Sipes: Why I’m running for Vail Town Council
I arrived in the Vail Valley in March of 1994, intending to practice architecture, but I was fully prepared to work ski jobs to stay in the mountains if architecture didn’t pan out. Fortunately, it did and I was able to buy a townhome back when they were in reach of typical salaries and weave myself into this wonderful community.
Almost immediately I tried to give back to this place that welcomed me, through service on the Avon Planning Commission and then two terms on the Avon Town Council, the Water Authority Board and then the Water District board. Along the way, I was married and had a son, who has been at Vail Mountain School since kindergarten. Living in Vail was always my dream, and so like a salmon swimming upstream, we began to slowly move upvalley as circumstances allowed — first to Minturn and then when the pandemic hit, to East Vail.
Mountain communities have always struggled with an influx of wealthy people, introducing a markedly skewed economic landscape. Local wages simply cannot compete with individuals who can effortlessly afford $5-8 million homes and second homes. And we don’t have the land to expand to meet the demand. This is a reality that makes solutions like the land use bill that was introduced in the 2023 legislative session completely unworkable in geographically constrained communities such as ours.
No amount of added housing density will cause a free-market correction bringing housing prices to an affordable level. The demand for housing is seemingly insatiable, and without zoning control, how can we fairly allocate the limited resource of water to sustainably support our community? The next Vail Town Council must become even more aggressive in establishing a more holistic locals-based housing economy. This is why I am running.
During our one and only candidate forum, we were posed with a question about describing the ideal council candidate. Here’s my response:
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The ideal candidate is someone who comprehends the physical character of the town, the intricacies of its neighborhoods, its climate, the living patterns of its residents, and their daily challenges. An ideal candidate approaches their constituents with open ears, listening attentively to their specific needs and aspirations. This candidate conducts research and studies the town’s nature, its residents, explores what other communities are doing, and seeks potential resources to understand how decisions might impact the town’s trajectory. The ideal candidate possesses a strong awareness of time and comprehends how choices made today will shape the future.
An ideal candidate demonstrates a profound sense of vision, capable of envisioning not just what exists but what could be, refining that vision while considering constraints like budget, functionality, sustainability, aesthetics and enduring value, all without compromising the core of the vision or the dreams of their constituents. This candidate also grasps the mechanisms of government and the technical processes and decisions needed to transform that vision into reality.
Change just a few words and this description also mirrors the perfect job profile for an architect. It is what I do each and every day.
The next several years will see the council tackle the civic center, the relocation of the municipal complex, the West Vail Plan and many other physical changes to our town, not to mention the housing issue that supersedes them all. I hope to bring my experience and unique architectural skills and vision to the town I’ve spent years working my way up to be a part of. Please share your vision with me at email@example.com and visit SipesForVail.com. I would be honored to have your vote.