Recreation district election is Tuesday |

Recreation district election is Tuesday

VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Recreation District has two of the five seats on its board of directors up for election this year, and five people are seeking the positions.

Four of the five candidates responded to a request for information about their ideas for the district. Their answers are printed below.

Stephen Connolly

Age: 54

Occupation: Sales and marketing and event management

• Why do you want this job? I would like to serve on the VRD board because I am always up to the challenge of helping to make life better for the residents of Vail and our community throughout the valley. I have worked on behalf of VRD user groups in the past and would like to take this commitment to the next level.

• What is the district doing well right now? The district is doing many things well right now. While it is currently on the right course, the board needs to make sure this continues, while fine-tuning operations for maximum efficiency.

• What’s the first thing you’d like to get to work on if you’re elected? While I have no agenda per se, the budget and the new clubhouse look to be top priorities. The economy is still not as strong as we would all like to see it. This necessitates exploring new ideas for revenue sources.

A few years ago, I did an evaluation of sponsorship opportunities for the district. I would like to see if we can generate any revenue from that study. The clubhouse can be a great asset to the district and the community. There will be challenges throughout the construction phase. I look forward to playing a role in finding solutions to those challenges.

Susan Bird

Age: 57

Occupation: Real estate broker

• Why do you want this job? I feel it is time for me to give back to the community that I have lived in since 1976. I have enjoyed all the VRD programs such as nordic skiing, running races, golf, tennis, softball, mountain bike races, ice skating and all the wonderful free concerts that VRD has helped sponsor.

My son was born and raised here in Vail and participated in many of the summer camps, tennis programs, played in our wonderful parks, soccer programs, T-ball and hockey. I would like to see these programs to be continued and grow for children and families. And also I think as a mother and a female, I will be a great asset to an all male board.

• What is the district doing well right now? The VRD is doing a terrific job with the planning and renovations of the new Vail clubhouse/Nordic center, Ford Park sports fields, and entry to the Betty Ford Gardens. This year the VRD expanded their venue of the spring Teva Games to include the Winter Teva games to promote adventure activities year round for all ages.

The new facility at the Lionshead parking structure includes the VRD Kids Imagination Center, which is another facility that is creating more activities for our kids and visitors to participate in year round. The VRD is doing a fantastic job with the gymnastic program at the new Vail gymnastic center which supports open gym time for other activities besides gymnastics.

The Vail Nature Center is also a great venue for our guests and locals to learn about our wonderful mountain environment via lectures, hikes, or even fly fishing/ stream ecology lessons.

• What’s the first thing you’d like to get to work on if you’re elected? I have owned and operated my own businesses in Vail since 1981. I am very concerned about being on track with the current VRD budget, project planning, and creating new revenue-contributing venues. I think it’s important to keep a watchful eye on our costs and stay within the current budget so not to have additional costs to our taxpayers and at the same time achieve our goals.

Ross Davis, Jr.

Age: 63

Occupation: Attorney

• Why do you want this job? I have previously served two terms on the board between 1994 and 2002, and after a 10-year break I feel that I am ready to serve again. My prior experience means that I will be able to get quickly up to speed on budgetary and governance responsibilities.

Although there has been some staff turnover, many of the fine people I previously worked with remain and I have become acquainted with the new staff in many cases. As a board member I have always felt that it is my responsibility to learn what each employee feels his or her job responsibility entails and their goals and aspirations for their job position, and then to do my best to help them reach those goals and do their jobs. Additionally it is my responsibility to serve as a filter and sounding board for taxpayer and customer opinions, complaints and desires, and serve as a shield or buffer for staff when necessary.

• What’s the district doing well right now? The greatest strength of the district has always been its staff. My job as a board member is to continue to foster the best possible work environment and level of customer service. The district is responsible for the management and operation of many great facilities and their continuing maintenance and upkeep is our greatest challenge, the budgetary challenges created by the loss of substantial property tax revenue, approximately $500,000 last year and up to $750,000 annually in upcoming years, will require the district to continue to strive to give our taxpayers the greatest value for their tax dollar.

• What’s the first thing you’d like to get to work on if you’re elected? The largest matter facing the board in the near future is the planning and implementation of the upcoming improvements and modifications and upgrades to the golf course clubhouse to fulfill the voters’ mandate when they entrusted the district with conventions center funds. Preserving the character of the course and the clubhouse as a golfing facility, while trying to expand to accommodate an expanded non-golfing guest role.

Jeff Wiles

Wiles sent the following while he was traveling:

Born in Pittsburg Kansas, I went to University of Kansas, getting a degree in speech communications. I’ve lived in Vail since 1982, opening the Westin Hotel in 1982. I started working for Vail Associates in 1986. I also worked summers at the Vail Golf Club for about 18 years as a starter/ranger.

I’ve been on the rec board for the last four years, directly involved with many of the projects we’ve done recently, including: New Irrigation system, new lightning shelters, new bridges for Holes 11 and 17 and the reconfiguration on Holes 3 and 7 tee box; a new Sno-cat for the Nordic center; a new Zamboni for Dobson Ice Arena.

Our board’s biggest success story is the new lease for the golf course with the town of Vail. I think what I’m most proud of is the ongoing cooperation we’ve had working with both the town and Vail Resorts the last four years.

The fact the voters decided to let the rec district use some of the conference center funds to upgrade the clubhouse/Nordic center at the Golf Course and to make necessary improvements to the Ford Park fields is one of the main reasons I’ve decided to run again for the board.

Candidate Bill Suarez didn’t return an e-mailed request for information.