Rediker: Why I’m running for Vail Town Council
The focus of my candidacy is strengthening our community. When I moved to Colorado in 1994, I settled in a small ski town working two jobs and playing hard in my free time. I was 22 years old and had left all my friends and family behind — but I was buoyed by a lifestyle that was underpinned by a close-knit community. Thirty years later, all ski towns, Vail included, have lost many of the aspects that give it a strong sense of community.
Vail can only be as great as the will of the people who live here. A strongly connected community can effectively work together for the benefit of the community. Currently, relationships are fractured and must be repaired. I believe we all have more in common than our differences.
As a Vail Town Council member, I would encourage a new focus on two general areas to rebuild the sense of community that has been lost. First, Town Council must improve operationally. Second, Town Council needs to pursue the correct policies that strengthen our community.
Procedurally, it begins with all seven members being prepared and fully engaged to make informed decisions. Rebuilding community involves better public engagement and increasing transparency to assuage the public’s concerns about the competency of the decision-making surrounding the town’s leadership.
We can’t afford to elect local leaders and then sit back and hope for the best. To that end, our leaders can no longer be given blank checks with taxpayer funds; it is critical that council members are capable of and careful about managing our taxpayer dollars in uncertain economic times.
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In terms of policies, we need to aggressively pursue changes that will strengthen community. First and foremost, we need to shift our housing focus to provide ownership opportunities that are affordable. You can’t have a community without people who are building lives here. While much of the rental housing we are bringing online is necessary to boost the short-term employment needs of businesses, without more people building their lives in Vail through home ownership, our sense of community will be further eroded. I see affordable home ownership as the most vital component to the survival of our community.
Many local businesses are currently losing revenue due to inflation. While visitor numbers are good, spending by those visitors has tightened. The council must work with the business community to identify areas where it can assist in increasing revenue for businesses. In addition, we need to work with regional partners to make health care and child care more affordable and accessible.
Finally, we need to increase lobbying efforts with state and federal legislators regarding climate change. Many of us moved to the mountains to get away from urbanization and mankind’s destruction of the natural world, only to be faced with the reality that we are now on the front lines of climate change. If we choose not to pursue such efforts, we will live with the future reality of limited snowpack and a dying ski industry.
I have experienced how difficult it is to make a life in a ski town. What it’s like to struggle to find and pay for housing. What it’s like to struggle to pay the bills and raise a family in challenging economic circumstances. To survive as a community Vail needs thoughtful leadership from individuals who understand people’s needs and who have the strength and ability to implement the change needed for the Town’s future.