Richard DeClark – – candidate for Eagle County BOCC, Dist. 1 | VailDaily.com
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Richard DeClark – – candidate for Eagle County BOCC, Dist. 1

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Richard DeClark
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EDWARDS – You could call Richard De Clark a self-made man. A flavor chemist who first learned the science in his father’s lab – not in a textbook – DeClark has become a profitable businessman with clients whose brand names line the inside of most American refrigerator doors.Just about a decade after he moved to Eagle County, De Clark is a well-recognized figure in the community. He has held positions in several local organizations, including serving on the board of directors for the Jimmy Heuga Foundation and the Eagle County Youth Foundation. De Clark has also built and sold buildings. He at one time was involved in the Two River Village project in Dotsero until an outside developer bought out him and partner Gerald Gallegos.Since announcing his candidacy for a seat on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, the Republican De Clark has raised nearly twice as much money as his competitor, Democrat Peter Runyon. And as he inches toward $30,000 in campaign funds – about half of which have come out of his own pocket – De Clark appears on track to beat fund-raising records for the county.His success is obvious, but he doesn’t appear to spend a lot of time sitting in a chair with his feet up. Instead, during a recent afternoon in his Edwards office, De Clark was tinkering in his lab, trying to come up with the perfect cherry flavor for a chewable vitamin. De Clark won’t let you in on the secrets behind his flavors. As for the secret for his success?”I’m a quick learner,” he said. From the ground upDe Clark grew up in Southern California, a region full of industry, opportunity and people. He was the sixth of seven children. His father, who worked as a salesman for a flavor company, lost his job while De Clark was a child.”He made too much money,” De Clark said. Unstymied, his father used the opportunity to start a flavor company of his own. His family – including De Clark and his older brother – were immediately given jobs. De Clark was 12.”It was just the three of us,” De Clark said. “We did everything. We didn’t have the money to hire employees.”His afternoons after school were spoken for from then on. De Clark would ride his bike to his father’s plant, work, do his homework and go to bed. Because of the demand, De Clark couldn’t play sports or participate in many after-school activities. After high school, he never went to college.”I couldn’t,” he said. “I was working 60, 80 hours a week.”But he loved the business. He and his brother eventually bought out his father’s investment and the company, Continental Flavors, eventually grew to have factories in California, Washington, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. He spent much of his time traveling to meet with clients, pulling him away from his wife, Janet, and his children. One day, his brother asked De Clark an interesting question after a typically long day of work.”He asked, ‘Are you tired?'” De Clark recalled. “And I said, ‘Of course I’m tired. I’ve been working all day.”He said, ‘No. I mean, are you tired of this?'”And then my brother said, ‘Let’s sell,'” De Clark said. In 1990, the brothers did just that. He and Janet began considering what to do next.”I had been working for over 20 years,” De Clark said. “My wife and I had a place out here. Our kids were young and we started thinking, do we want to raise our kids in Southern California?”The answer to that question was no. The De Clarks packed their bags and relocated to Eagle County. Becoming part of the communityThe De Clark’s settled in Edwards and quickly adjusted to a more rural lifestyle.He doesn’t miss Southern California at all, while he still has family there and visits them regularly. Eagle County is a better, safer place to raise a family, he said. “If my kid acts up in a movie theater, I’m going to know about it,” he said. “I’m also going to know that if he gets a flat tire, someone is going to help him with it”. He’s working again, though on a much smaller scale. He has a plant in California, run by his brother-in-law. When De Clark comes up with a flavor for a client, he calls his brother with the recipe.There are other changes, too. Faced with more free time than ever before, DeClark started volunteering for community groups. He joined the Eagle Valley Rotary, he volunteered for the Salvation Army and joined the board at the Heuga Center. He now serves on the Eagle County Youth Advisory Board. His wife also became involved with her children’s school and now spends a few hours a week at the Heuga Center working as a speech pathologist. Unlike Southern California, where the population is in the millions, De Clark feels he really can make a difference in Eagle County, a community of about 44,000.”I didn’t have time for this before,” he said, and then pauses. He knows this sounds cliche, but it’s the truth.”I felt it was time to give back,” he said. Running for county commissioner seemed like the next step, he said. He sees loads of things he would like to improve, he said. He’d like to see better opportunities for kids, such as a community center that would give them a place to hang out – supervised – but on their own accord, he said. The county has done a good job of improving the local economy in the best way Eagle County can : By promoting recreation and tourism. He’d like to see more, he said. “I’d like to see us become the recreation capital of the world,” he said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or tmiller@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

Tamara MillerDaily Staff WriterQ. Is affordable housing as pressing an issue now as it was 10 years ago? As the county continues to grow, do you think the county’s housing policies should change, and if so, how? Is there enough housing priced affordably for Eagle County’s middle-class families? Is there enough housing priced affordably for Eagle County’s low-income families?A. While affordable housing may not be as pressing an issue as it was 10 years ago, I have concerns that, as the real estate market heats up, middle-class families may be left with fewer “affordable” options. I have immediate concerns that options for lower-income families are already beginning to evaporate. The county, therefore, should remain vigilant and maintain a long-range vision with regards to affordable housing. The commissioners have recently passed new guidelines and incentives for creation of affordable housing and I think we should wait to see how they work before exploring new policies. I would not hesitate to create new policies should these guidelines prove insufficient. We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball when it comes to this issue.Q. As county commissioner, how would you balance the desire for open space with finding land for housing? What areas of the county do you see fit for housing? What areas would be better left as open space?A. I believe that housing should be centralized around town/community centers and that we should make every effort to keep remote areas as open space. I have reservations about the sprawl of housing spreading too far north or south of the valley corridor, as such movement could create serious transportation, wildlife and environmental issues. The county should take a leadership role in working with the towns tackling these issues and in planning where housing developments should best be placed.With regards to open space, I strongly favor the concept of using the county’s open space committee to create an inventory of possible opportunities for purchase of open space in the future. I would like to then see them prioritize these opportunities as they relate to the viability and feasibility for preservation and purchase. The county should explore public/private partnerships with regards to open space, such as the recent cooperation on the Eaton Ranch parcel. Therefore, the county can become less reactive and more proactive in response to open space proposals.Q. Would the Board of County Commissioners operate more democratically if there were five board members, rather than three? Would you consider turning Eagle County into a home-rule county to accomplish this goal? What are the obstacles and benefits of such a move?A. Going from three to five commissioners is less a question of the board functioning democratically as much as it is a question of logic. There are several advantages to increasing the number of commissioners from three to five, such as creating a broader range of perspectives and opinions on the board, letting the commissioners share the workload, allowing the board to function more efficiently if a member is unavailable, and giving representation to the underrepresented Eagle County residents in Basalt and El Jebel.The question of increasing the number of commissioners and the issue of home rule are, while related, really separate issues. Converting to home rule is a process and not an event, and is a greater task than just changing the number of commissioners. The researching and drafting of a home rule charter takes place over a significant period of time and involves debating rules by which the county will govern itself. Many topics need to be discussed, such as salaries, partisanship, redrawing of district lines, and appointments versus election of other county officials such as sheriff, clerk and recorder, assessor, etc.The time is right to form a citizens’ committee to do a feasibility study on home rule. Forming a strong opinion on home rule would be premature until this research as been done. Q. Does Edwards take up more than its fair share of the county’s resources and funds? Should the county return more of the sales tax revenue collected from towns back to the towns? Should Edwards incorporate?A. When spending county funds, the county first needs to fulfill its obligations as an entity. If there are excess funds available, the county should participate in projects with the towns if they benefit the county and its residents as a whole. For example, the county should contribute towards a West Vail fire station because such a project would enhance the continuity of emergency services throughout the county. Furthermore, the county should look towards contributing to open space opportunities available in towns, as such preservation efforts would be of benefit to the entire county.Personally, I do not see a big advantage to Edwards’ incorporating. The level of services currently available in Edwards is sufficient and I think incorporation at this stage of the game would be redundant.Q. What one thing would you do to ensure the future viability of our water supply?A. The one thing I would do to ensure the viability of our water supply would be to exercise the county’s powers to grant environmental permits and use this as leverage to retain water in future proposed reservoirs. I would want to ensure that Eagle County residents get their fair share of any water from any proposed storage projects built in the county. I would not hesitate to withhold granting of permits if a project did not meet those expectations or if the environmental impact on the local watershed was too great.Q. A significant percentage of the middle-class wage jobs in this county are connected to the local construction industry. These jobs include not only construction workers and contractors, but architects and engineers, just to mention a few. Are you concerned about what would happen to these jobs as the county becomes completely built out? What should Eagle County do to diversify its economy?A. Eagle County’s economic base is already in a state of change. Therefore, we need to diversify our economy with clean, environmentally friendly industry. Most immediately, we should continue to do what we do well by expanding our recreational opportunities. Eagle County has great potential to become more of a year-round destination, and tourism is a “clean” industry, which contributes significant revenue and potential job growth with minimal environmental impact. We should look towards expanding service into the Eagle County Airport to accommodate tourism and increased convention and meeting business. I believe that the county would also be a very attractive place for educational entities to locate, which could further enhance the profile and diversity of our county while providing jobs and having minimal environmental impact.Q. What recreation needs do you feel are still not being met in Eagle County? Is it time to consolidate the county’s recreation districts?A. The recreation districts are working well together with programming. We must first encourage a “coalition of the willing” in bringing the districts together, such as the fire districts have already done. Eventually, we may then be able to consolidate the recreation districts. The districts, working together, should come up with a plan outlining what needs they feel are not being met. Let the recreation experts, along with the citizens, decide what amenities need to be built, and where.Q. What is the most significant issue facing the county today?A. It is imperative that the county and towns improve cooperation and communication with each other to achieve a more comprehensive vision of how the county will look and operate in 20 years. Over half of the people in the county live in towns where the commissioners have no say on land use and growth issues. The county should facilitate cooperation on land use and promote Eagle County as a whole county – not just separate towns. The county needs to take the lead in this cooperation and should institute regularly scheduled liaison meetings with town officials to keep the lines of communication open.Tamara Miller can be reached at tmiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado

Edwards flavor chemist sees a need for even more recreation promotionBy Tamara MillerDaily Staff WriterEDWARDS You could call Richard De Clark a self-made man. A flavor chemist who first learned the science in his fathers lab not in a textbook De Clark has become a prolific businessman with clients whose brand names line the insides of most American refrigerator doors.Just about a decade after he moved to Eagle County, De Clark is a well-recognized figure in the community. He has held positions in several local organizations, including serving on the board of directors for the Jimmy Heuga Foundation and the Eagle County Youth Foundation. De Clark has also built and sold buildings. He at one time was involved in the Two River Village project in Dotsero until an outside developer bought out him and partner Gerald Gallegos.Since announcing his candidacy for a seat on the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, the Republican De Clark has raised nearly twice as much money as his competitor, Democrat Peter Runyon. And as he inches toward $30,000 in campaign funds about half of which has come out of his own pocket De Clark appears on track to beat fund-raising records for the county.His success is obvious, but he doesnt appear to spend a lot of time sitting in a chair with his feet up. Instead, during a recent afternoon in his Edwards office, De Clark was tinkering in his lab, trying to come up with the perfect cherry flavor for a chewable vitamin. De Clark wont let you in on the secrets behind his flavors. As for the secret for his success?Im a quick learner, he said. From the ground upDe Clark grew up in Southern California, a region full of industry, opportunity and people. He was the sixth of seven children. His father, who worked as a salesman for a flavor company, lost his job while De Clark was a child.He made too much money, De Clark said. Unstymied, his father used the opportunity to start a flavor company of his own. His family including De Clark and his older brother were immediately given jobs. De Clark was 12.It was just the three of us, De Clark said. We did everything. We didnt have the money to hire employees.His afternoons after school were spoken for from then on. De Clark would ride his bike to his fathers plant, work, do his homework and go to bed. Because of the demand, De Clark couldnt play sports or participate in many after-school activities. After high school, he never went to college.I couldnt, he said. I was working 60, 80 hours a week.But he loved the business. He and his brother eventually bought out his fathers investment, and the company, Continental Flavors, eventually grew to have factories in California, Washington, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. He spent much of his time traveling to meet with clients, pulling him away from his wife, Janet, and his children. One day, his brother asked De Clark an interesting question after a typically long day of work.He asked, Are you tired? De Clark recalled. And I said, Of course Im tired. Ive been working all day.He said, No. I mean, are you tired of this?And then my brother said, Lets sell, De Clark said. In 1990, the brothers did just that. He and Janet began considering what to do next.I had been working for over 20 years, De Clark said. My wife and I had a place out here. Our kids were young, and we started thinking, do we want to raise our kids in Southern California?The answer to that question was no. The De Clarks packed their bags and relocated to Eagle County. Becoming part of the communityThe De Clarks settled in Edwards and quickly adjusted to a more rural lifestyle.He doesnt miss Southern California at all, while he still has family there and visits them regularly. Eagle County is a better, safer place to raise a family, he said. If my kid acts up in a movie theater, Im going to know about it, he said. Im also going to know that if he gets a flat tire, someone is going to help him with it. Hes working again, though on a much smaller scale. He has a plant in California, run by his brother-in-law. When De Clark comes up with a flavor for a client, he calls his brother with the recipe.There are other changes, too. Faced with more free time than ever before, De Clark started volunteering for community groups. He joined the Eagle Valley Rotary, volunteered for the Salvation Army and joined the board at the Heuga Center. He now serves on the Eagle County Youth Advisory Board. His wife also became involved with her childrens school and now spends a few hours a week at the Heuga Center working as a speech pathologist. Unlike Southern California, where the population is in the millions, De Clark feels he really can make a difference in Eagle County, a community of about 44,000.I didnt have time for this before, he said, and then paused. He knows this sounds cliche, he said, but its the truth: I felt it was time to give back, he said. Running for county commissioner seemed like the next step, he said. He sees loads of things he would like to improve, he said. Hed like to see better opportunities for kids, such as a community center that would give them a place to hang out supervised but on their own accord, he said. The county has done a good job of improving the local economy in the best way Eagle County can: By promoting recreation and tourism. Hed like to see more, he said. Id like to see us become the recreation capital of the world, he said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or tmiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily


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