So long to Vail council "coalition’
A week before election season in Vail officially gets started, two men who had declared their intentions to run for the Town Council as part of a pro-business “coalition” have decided to go it alone.Incumbent Town Councilman Bill Jewitt and retired businessman Kent Logan say they worked hard to build a slate of qualified candidates with a common philosophy to join them in running for office in the upcoming elections – but since late last month, when the pair announced their intentions, nobody has joined them.”Basically, we decided to disband the coalition due to lack of interest,” says Jewitt, co-owner of Bart & Yeti’s bar in Lionshead, who’s running for re-election after a two-year term. “We looked for like-minded people, but it’s difficult to get people to raise their hands.”Pivotal electionThe election Nov. 4 is pivotal, as four of seven seats on the council are up for grabs. Then, on Jan. 27, the mayor’s seat, now occupied by Ludwig Kurz, also becomes available. Jewitt and Logan reasoned a four- or five-member coalition on the council – in theory, much like a group of three candidates who ran successfully for seats on the Vail Recreation District’s board of directors last year – would achieve more than a council of seven members with diverse philosophies and agendas.The common philosophy Jewitt and Logan hoped would take hold was based on making it easier for merchants to do business in Vail, they say. Specific ideas included launching more-aggressive marketing campaigns, resurrecting the idea of forming a business improvement district, ridding the town of out-dated regulations and even changing the way the mayor is elected.”We were looking for a slate to help break a deadlock that’s held the council back for years,” says Logan, 59, who’s running for public office for the first time. “It was time, and we tried. But we just couldn’t get it done.”Their decision comes on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement by another incumbent, Greg Moffet, that he would seek re-election, perhaps changing whatever dynamic such a coalition may have been building. Moffet said he believes he’s been “the most pro-business vote on Town Council, contrary to popular opinion.””Strangely quiet’Disbanding the coalition also comes during a relative lull in the election process. Monday is the first day potential candidates for Vail Town Council can pick up petitions at the town clerk’s office, and so far only Moffet, Logan and Jewitt have officially declared their candidacy. Town Councilman Chuck Ogilby, elected to a four-year term in 1999, has bowed out of running for re-election, and Rod Slifer, a long-time councilman and a former Vail mayor, has yet to state his intentions.”It does seem strangely quiet. Usually there’s at least a few by now,” says Slifer, adding he doesn’t believe in coalitions, especially in a town without distinct districts. “You really need to represent everybody in Vail. … I think you are who you are, and you need to run on your own vision.”Jewitt and Logan, however, say even though they’re now running as individuals, the coalition’s basic philosophy remains intact.”It’s a little different with seven visions. We tend to be reactive, not proactive,” says Jewitt. “(But) I don’t believe (disbanding the coalition) changes my interest. It won’t change what I’m talking about.”I ran originally because I’d been chastised for not raising my hand and giving back to the community,” adds the long-time Vail merchant. “If my ideas haven’t resonated, I guess I won’t be re-elected.”Logan, meanwhile, says while he believes in the now-defunct coalition’s pro-business platform, he realizes he needs “to position myself as an individual,” too. Vail politics, he says, have become too divided, with definitions far too narrow, such as “pro-business” or “anti-Vail Resorts.” A former investment banker with 40 years of business experience, he says he believes he can be the “unification candidate” – “pro-business, pro-community and pro-Vail Resorts,” all at the same time.”We were making too many compromises,” says Logan. “Now I can run on my own.”
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