Several seeking office in Red Cliff |

Several seeking office in Red Cliff

Tamara Miller
Red Cliff Bridge 9-5/ Mk edit Vail Daily/ Melinda Kruse The Colorado Department of Transportation has plans to fix up the Red Cliff bridge in order to make it safer for drivers and cyclists.

The Town of Red Cliff may be small, but the candidate list will be long this spring in the race for open seats on the town’s Board of Trustees.

Julie Sturt and Town Trustee Ramon Montoya are vying for the mayor’s slot and seven people are running for four open trustee seats.

Not bad for a town of 350 people.

In contrast, the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District just canceled their election for two seats on the board of directors. The only two candidates were automatically appointed to serve four-year terms.

“I’m just delighted that we have such interest,” said Sydney Summers, a longtime Red Cliff resident. “I don’t know if there is any one thing that has sparked that much interest.”

Candidates for the trustee seats are: Valarie Blevins, Jim Bradford, Eric Cregon, Debbie Fabor, incumbent Walter Fox, Duane Nelson and Betty Sandoval, who is finishing up her most recent term as mayor. Fox was elected to a two-year term in 2002. The seats are nonpartisan.

The top three vote-getters will serve a four-year term. The fourth trustee will serve a two-year term. The election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., April 6, in the Town of Red Cliff Town Hall, 400 Pine Street.

No one seems to know exactly what has sparked the new interest in public service.

Summers, who resigned from her trustee seat two weeks ago – “I thought it was time for somebody else to do it” – doesn’t necessarily characterize Red Cliff residents as politically active.

The tiny hamlet doesn’t have a recent history of competitive elections, either, said former Town Clerk Bob Slagle, who served from 1997 to 2003. But that doesn’t mean the residents of Red Cliff haven’t had concerns.

For more than two years, the town has battled on-again, off-again safety orders to boil all municipal water before drinking. When the water plant is not operating properly, town water mains fill with untreated water from Turkey Creek, which can carry bacteria and parasites, such as giardia. The town was released from the most recent boil order last month.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will close the Red Cliff bridge next month to begin a 170-day, $3.5 million repair project. The closure will force daily traffic along U.S. Highway 24 to detour through the town. An estimated 2,500 vehicles travel along the highway each day and a majority of the drivers are commuters going from Leadville and Red Cliff to Vail and places downvalley.

The sudden interest in political office maybe a sign of the times for this old mining town.

“I think this is indicative of the changing in the overall culture of the community of Red Cliff,” Slagle said. “Houses are being improved, new houses are coming in that would fit anywhere in the valley. Utilities and substructures are being improved. Slowly, but they are improving.”

Despite recent difficulties, the outlook in Red Cliff is positive, Summers said. The community has a new town administrator – Guy Patterson – who is helping the town deal with the challenges ahead, she said.

Red Cliff residents may not be politically active by default, but they do carry a special sort of pride in their hometown, Summers said.

“There aren’t many places left in the world where you can make a difference in your town, but this is one of them,” Summers said. “If you are either the mayor, or a town trustee, you can really direct the course of the town.

“We’ve got a town of a lot of people who are very individualistic here,” she said. “This election shows that some of them are getting more involved.”

Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.

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