Minturn Town Council candidates in their own words | VailDaily.com
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Minturn Town Council candidates in their own words

Minturn is holding a town council election April 7

When is the election? Minturn is holding a town council election April 7. The format has changed to an absentee ballot vote, and voters will select four council members and the mayor. In addition to mayor, voters will select three council members for four-year terms and one council member for a two-year term. Incumbent mayor John K. Widerman IV is being challenged by former mayor Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty. Incumbent council members Terry Armistead, George Brodin and Eric Gotthelf are running for re-election. Challengers Darin Tucholke, Spence Neubauer and Gusty Kanakis are seeking seats on the board.
John Widerman

John Widerman

Profession: MBA Graduate student (final semester!) and FirstBank Employee.

Why are you running? As a 10-plus year resident of Minturn, I am still considered a newcomer by some, but I assure you I have devoted myself to being as Minturn as they get. I have enjoyed the last four years on this council (the last year as your mayor), and I am excited to see the progress we have made continue with such an amazing group of leaders.

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? Our water infrastructure has aged in place and is now in need of replacement. We need leadership that is willing to address these concerns through data-driven solutions, not fighting to keep it the same for future generations to deal with.

What should the future hold for the rail line through town and the property near the rail yard? I would like to see the railroad parcel reasonably developed, and the current proposal has, so far, received unanimous support from our council. The area is well suited for development compared to other areas in town, and, quite frankly, with our current Water Capital Infrastructure plan, we forecasted pricing around a growth scenario. I believe this is a good opportunity to see what’s possible in that space. 

As far as the rail line is concerned, I believe it’s going to take a real visionary to make anything happen on the tracks. I’ve seen several concepts, the rehabilitation cost of the tracks is just so high. If it was to ever be abandoned, I would look to the community for direction, but I can imagine open space would be high on that list. 

Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty

Gordon “Hawkeye” Flaherty

Profession: Public works employee for the town of Vail.  I work in the street department as a front line supervisor.

Why are you running? I am the former mayor of many years.  I don’t see the current council having any viable solution for the many issues currently facing the town. I believe I can help solve some of these issues. 

 What’s the biggest issue facing the town?  Growth and the issues it presents to the current residents. 

What should the future hold for the rail line and the property near the rail yard? The railroad is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.  They (Union Pacific Railroad) will do what they want to do. Hopefully they will work with the town on any problems the reactivation of the line will bring, but in the end they will have the final say in what they want to do.

Terry Armistead

Terry Armistead

Profession: Musician, ski instructor, mom.

Why are you running? I like to be involved in my town. I am the founder and producer of the Minturn Concert Series and have seen first-hand what giving back to the community can involve and the rewards it brings. I am running for my second term and I have learned so much. I want to continue to serve. 

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? What a difference four years makes. I believe the last time I answered this question, I said the land swap. Now we are faced with so many issues. 

We have decided to invest in our water infrastructure. The rising cost to residents and businesses is a big concern. The new 100 Block will change the face of Minturn and I want to ensure it’s for the better. We have such a fun character to our town that I would love to keep unique. The Holy Cross power line through town is another change that needs to preserve the character of our town and our scenic byway view corridor. Battle Mountain is still here and we need to make sure that the growth that occurs is beneficial to residents. That’s four issues, I know. Welcome to Minturn.

What should the future hold for the rail line through town and the property near the rail yard? The railroad itself remains private property. We’ve all heard rumors of new buyers. Ultimately I would love a bike path but that is a long shot. If the trains start rolling again, I think I’m OK with it. The land along Taylor Street is probably going to be developed. I hope the density is something that current residents and the road can handle. Residents in that neighborhood have done a good job of getting their voices heard. Now it’s the town’s job to listen.  

George Brodin

George Brodin

Profession: Retired business owner; full-time grandpa.

Why are you running? Minturn is my home for the last 34 years. I have raised my family here and I am deeply committed to keeping it a small, sturdy, independent mountain town where people can live, know their neighbors, raise families, and have a voice in the town’s future. 

I have participated in town government since 2003. I am stable, effective, and able to look at and explore many different viewpoints before making a decision. I am independent-minded, but able to work on a team.

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? The biggest challenge currently facing Minturn is upgrading and improving our water system in the most affordable manner. It will require planning, grants, funding, higher water bills, and out of the box thinking and solutions to get this done. The Town of Minturn is made up of just the right people to get this done. I mean all the citizens that make up the population of the Town.

 What should the future hold for the rail line through town and the property near the rail yard? I have never seen anything happen fast that concerns the railroad. Looking ahead, I could see an economic boom in the rail yard, a transit hub, commuter workforce gain, increased tourism, train car loads of recyclable freight to Denver, a Holy Cross electric line buried along the tracks that could also power the electric trains that will be used. I could also see residents with pitchforks and tar and feathers who have houses along the tracks that are not enamored with the noise and commotion.

Eric Gotthelf

Eric Gotthelf

Profession: Vice President of Sales at Rhino Networks.

Why are you running? I was born and raised in the Vail Valley and want to preserve what makes Minturn unique. I enjoy serving my community and will be running for re-election on Minturn Town Council.

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? Currently the biggest issue facing the town is water and how we can plan for growth while maintaining Minturn’s independence.  

What should the future hold for the rail line through town and the property near the rail yard? My preference would be for the line and adjacent property to be used as open space and recreation including bike paths and hiking trails. However if the rail line were to re-open I’d love to see a commuter train for tourism and alternate transportation.

Gusty Kanakis

Gusty Kanakis

Profession: I am recently retired. Before retirement I worked as the Fleet & Facilities Supervisor for Eagle River Water & Sanitation District. 

Why are you running? I have lived in Minturn all my life except for four years that I lived in Avon. I would like to be a part of the future of Minturn. I care about Minturn and am proud to live here. I have the time to devote to council and would be committed to making the best decisions possible to represent the town and it’s the citizens. 

What is the biggest issue facing the town? The deteriorating water system is one of the biggest issues. The town needs to prioritize what steps need to be taken to upgrade and increase the capacity of the system. The other part of the issue is how to cover the costs for the upgrades.

What should the future hold for the rail line and the property near the rail yard? There is always the possibility that the rail line could be used again. There was talk about using the rail line to transport grain to the West Coast. I would like to see the rail line be used for transportation from Leadville to down valley. If the property is sold and developed I would like to see some commercial zoning be incorporated within the parcel. The rail yard is the entrance to our town and the development would have to fit into the town’s character.

Spence Neubauer

Spence Neubauer

Profession: Stay-at-home dad.

Why are you running? For a small town, our government does an incredible job of dealing with the issues facing Minturn. I want to help be a part of the decision process and keep Minturn moving forward. 

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? Growth is on everyone’s mind. Minturn is a wonderful small town in a bustling tourist destination. Nobody wants it to be only second homes and short-term rentals. However, economic stability in volatile times is hard with a small full-time population. Responsible growth to boost revenue and long-term viability is an issue that requires compromises from both sides for Minturn to continue thriving and flourish in the future.

What should the future hold for the rail line and the property near the rail yard? Union Pacific owns the line and has two potential buyers while the fed has final approval, previously stopping a sale to turn it into a trail. I’m not sure Minturn has much say in the matter, but some homes on the available property and a trail would be nice. 

Darin Tucholke

Darin Tucholke

Profession: Small business owner.

Why are you running? To make sure the town’s government is working for the citizens, protect the town’s assets and create more community involvement.

What’s the biggest issue facing the town? The town’s economic portfolio, smart growth initiatives, preservation of small town life, domestic water supply, and river quality.

What should the future hold for the rail line through town and the property near the rail yard? The future of the railroad is firmly held by the Union Pacific. In a perfect world I would like to see it turned into a recreational gem. From a business perspective it will lay idle or the trains will be put back in service.


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