Our View: Andrade, Erickson, Golembiewski for Avon Town Council
It’s time for a change in Avon. The Town Council needs new voices in the room, and there are certainly qualified newcomers on this year’s ballot who would bring fresh perspectives and help the town turn the page from previous boondoggles that have rankled voters.
At the top of that list is Russell “RJ” Andrade, who we endorsed two years ago for the same job. Andrade, the general manager at Agave, a popular restaurant in town, exudes passion for the role and, as a longtime local, knows the issues that the town’s business community faces. Those challenges include being able to hire workers and house them as well as finding ways to keep local businesses afloat in the COVID-19 economy.
Andrade said his top priority as a councilmember will be taking care of taxpayer money and making sure that every dollar spent is used on needed capital improvement projects, not passion projects like the Hahnewald Barn move, which voters overwhelmingly rejected after forcing a special vote.
We also think Missy Erickson, another longtime local who has lived in Avon for nearly three decades and runs her own clothing line, would make a great councilmember. Erickson is passionate about helping turn Avon into a regional creative district, like Santa Fe, to attract artists, designers and other entrepreneurs who could, in turn, attract visitors and other private businesses.
Martin Golembiewski, an engineer who currently serves on the town’s planning and zoning commission, is the other candidate we’re recommending to Avon voters. Golembiewski’s credentials make him a trusted voice when he says the town needs to do a better job understanding the full scope of projects and avoiding cost overruns that have created mistrust among taxpayers and the council in the past.
If there’s a common theme among these three candidates, it’s a dedication to fiscal responsibility and transparency. All three said that the council needs to do a better job of community outreach — certainly a challenge in a pandemic — instead of expecting the community to come to town hall.
Kevin Hyatt and Lindsay Hardy, in our estimation, would also make great councilmembers, if elected. Hardy, like Golembiewski, currently serves on the town’s P&Z committee and, as an architect, has experience in vetting projects and guiding development. She’s also the only person in the race who represents renters who are outside the housing market and looking to get in. Hyatt is a small business owner who’d be a respectable, reasonable voice for the local business community.
As for Amy Phillips, who has previously served three terms on the council, and is seeking a fourth, we feel that it’s time for a new direction. And that’s acknowledging that some of the charges directed at Phillips in the recent recall campaign that failed to garner enough voter signatures are wholly undeserved.
To be clear, Phillips wasn’t on the council when the stage in Nottingham Park was approved and built, and she certainly wasn’t on the council, 40 years ago, when the town approved its real estate transfer tax. To Phillips’ credit, in a recent candidate forum, she candidly stated that more could be done to improve the exemption from the RETT for locals looking to get into market, claiming that raising the exemption from $160,000 to $240,000 was “paltry” and that the number needed to go higher to better approach the purchase price of an average two-bedroom townhome in Avon.
Avon residents certainly saw this recall stunt for what it was. A recall should be used as a last resort to removed elected officials guilty of gross misconduct — not over policy disputes or sour grapes based on how the last council election shook out.
That said, Phillips did vote for the barn move, which may be a moot point after voters had their say and rebuked the council, but that decision shows a disconnect with constituents. Voters rejected that 4-3 council vote to the tune of nearly 9-1.
And in a bizarre scene at the most recent council meeting, after current councilmember Jennie Fancher, a previous mayor, castigated one of the leaders of the recall effort with a profane insult, Phillips decided that was the opportune time to swoop in and campaign for herself. It was an awkward scene that resembled bad reality TV, not a public meeting in a prosperous town that sits between two of the world’s great ski resorts.
Avon can do better. Vote for Russell “RJ” Andrade, Missy Erickson and Martin Golembiewski for Avon Town Council.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Digital Engagement Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller, Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd and Advertising Director Holli Snyder.
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