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Our four for Avon council

Don Rogers

Whether their candidacies are fueled by a post-Sept. 11 calling to serve community or disaffection symbolized by the long-planned Village at Avon at last moving dirt, this is an impressive group. There’s plenty of brainpower, energy and commitment in these 12; the trick is sorting out the candidates who have the best combination of talents and will be able to work collectively with the full council.

Three candidates stand out for us:

n Incumbent Mac McDevitt, a retired high tech executive. He’s not the most showy of the council members, but observers see him as perhaps the most effective current member of the council. He’s more than earned his chance to continue as an asset to Avon.

n Appointed incumbent Brian Sipes is an architect and land use planner who cut his teeth on the town Planning and Zoning Commission before being appointed to the council half a year ago. His insights and ideas about town governance impress rivals and supporters alike. He’s well into that inevitable learning curve on the council, well-versed in the breadth of town issues and poised to make a solid contribution to town leadership in the coming years.

n Ron Wolfe, a retired business executive who serves on the town Planning and Zoning Commission. He shows a strong understanding of budgetary realities and the focus to set and execute high but attainable goals for the town.

In our view while looking at the field of those we’d consider recommending, these three show the greatest combination of knowledge of the issues, grasp of the council’s role, ability to communicate and work effectively with the rest of the council, leadership talent, listening skills, and commitment.

The fourth spot, for us anyway, is less clear cut. This is a strong field of candidates, after all, each of whom is ready to contribute very positively to Avon’s future.

At this point, we should remark on two whom we will not recommend only on principle, rather than on an assessment of their considerable skills.

First, as we stated in the 2000 election when Councilwoman Debbie Buckley’s husband, now-Councilman Peter Buckley, ran for election, we believe that the Town Council should not have two members of the same family serving in the same capacity.Debbie Buckley has served capably, even admirably, and should consider further government service, only not at the Avon council level while her husband serves. We note they do not always vote alike, but our view nonetheless holds.

Candidate Robert Angel is employed by this newspaper as an advertising salesperson. Even though he does not work in the newsroom or have an effect on news decisions, we don’t feel it is proper for us to endorse one of the paper’s employees. Angel, a former executive with big-box retailer Petsmart, offers expertise in dealing with big-box development in the town.

Bobby Banks is the personable, outspoken advocate for the Eagle Bend neighborhood across the street from the Village at Avon. Eagle Bend has the dubious honor of paying taxes to Avon and the Eagle-Vail Metro District, leaving perhaps the biggest tax critic running for office in the highest-taxed residential neighborhood by far in Eagle County. He would benefit from some seasoning on an appointed body.

Tab Bonidy, an architect and land planner, offers a set of problem-solving skills well suited to a town facing numerous issues related to development. He also offers the insights of a business owner in town, always a valuable commodity. He has not done as much homework on town issues as the other architect-land use planner running for the office, Sipes.

Rene Martinez, the first Hispanic candidate in Avon’s history, is well-versed in the issues of a significant minority population in town that is often overlooked. He would serve well as a bridge to that crucial community, but we don’t find him as conversant in other town issues and recommend he serve in an advisory capacity in town government before taking on a council role. We do believe that someday he would be an outstanding town councilman.

Mike McClinton, an internal auditor for Vail Resorts, would bring valuable budgeting skills to the council, and he is knowledgeable about town business in his role as a town planning and zoning commissioner. He also brings the understanding of young families trying to make a go of it in resort land. He shows good listening skills, but has shown difficulty in communicating effectively in group settings. This will change with practice.

Steve Miller, who served on the council in the ’80s, brings the perspective of the longtimer who continues to keep up with the town’s issues. He is bright, well-spoken and shows a commitment to Avon that is heartening indeed.

Chico Thuon is the most personable of the candidates, and would be a great bridge to young residents who don’t pay nearly as much attention to their community as they ought to. He, too, would benefit from service in an appointed capacity before serving on the Town Council.

Ron Neville, another of the young family men seeking office, administrates homeowners associations in Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch. He shows a clear-eyed understanding of Avon’s issues and challenges in the future, is well-spoken and brings an even-handed, logical approach to dealing with issues. We believe he’d work very well with the rest of the council, and so recommend him – by a nose ahead of other fine candidates – as our fourth endorsement.

We’re confident other combinations of the office seekers would serve capably, but we think the very best group would be McDevitt, Sipes, Wolfe and Neville.

Nonetheless, we wish all these candidates well, and hope the ones who finish fifth through 12th in this election find ways to serve this fine community that they’ve already done proud by their willingness to undergo the gantlet of campaigning.

Good luck to each of them.


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