Special election now looms on Vail’s horizon
With the dust still settling in Vail after elections Nov. 4, one candidate has made it obvious he’s still eying public office.Mark Gordon, who just unsuccessfully ran for Town Council, has announced his intentions to run again in a special election on Jan. 27 to replace Councilman Ludwig Kurz, Vail’s mayor since 1999.”I’m looking forward to continuing the dialogue with voters I started with my first campaign,” says Gordon, 40, a Vailite for three years, having moved from Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Tracy. “I think my message was right on.””Issues haven’t changed’On Election Day, Gordon, who works for Vail Resorts as lead foreman at the company’s communications center in Lionshead, was just 85 votes shy of incumbent Greg Moffet, the fourth-highest vote-getter, who returned to the council with a two-year term. Between those two candidates was Bill Jewitt, another incumbent who had served on the council since 2001. In the evening after of the recent election, upon hearing he’d not been elected, the self-described “optimist” said he’d keep trying. Now, three weeks before he can even pick up a nominating petition, he’s made his intentions clear, having already submitted letters to the editors of local newspapers.”The issues haven’t changed in the past two weeks,” he wrote in a letter that appeared Friday, repeating what’s become his campaign slogan. “So I’m still going to run on my belief that we have to put the town back in Vail.”Obviously, the campaign is in its early stages, with nominating petitions not even available until Dec. 8 – for another three weeks. But Gordon’s non-stop efforts have many people asking who’s going to face him.”A voice of reason’Jewitt, owner of Bart & Yeti’s bar and restaurant in Lionshead, is considered a likely candidate. The 55-year-old, who has lived here since 1976, said during the recent campaign he’s “closer to the business community” than the rest of the candidates for Town Council. Despite indications over the weekend the former councilman is interested in seeking another term, as of Monday he remained undecided.However, one of Jewitt’s ardent supporters, former councilman Kevin Foley, says Jewitt would be the logical choice to fill Kurz’s seat – if he decides to seek public office again.”Bill’s a voice of reason,” Foley says.Speaking for himself, however, Foley – who served on the Town Council from 1995-2001 – seeks to dispel any rumor he’s interested in returning to Vail’s highest authority.”I think everybody should jump in the water, and I wish them all well,” says Foley. “But six years was enough for me.”Others out thereAnother man who expressed interest in running for council before the Nov. 4 election was Peter Cook, a member of the Vail Recreation District’s board of directors. The East Vail resident bowed out before submitting a nominating petition, however, and he says he’s not thought much about it since then.”I’m keeping my options open again,” Cook says, calling the chances of his declaring himself a candidate “remote.”Then there’s Paul Rondeau, 69, a fixture at Town Council meetings over the years. With 291 votes, Rondeau finished seventh in the gang of eight candidates on Nov. 4. He says it would be good if Jewitt does decide to run again, and that Jewitt has “been there before and knows the ropes.” And the fact that Jewitt owns a business in Lionshead, which is slated for a multi-million-dollar face lift in the next few years, makes him especially valuable as a public servant,” Rondeau adds.”Bill’s got skin in the game, and that’s extremely important,” Rondeau says. “I’m hoping we have at least two candidates. I’m sure somebody’s going to run.”Need a reason to run?Council members receive a salary of $500 a month; the mayor receives a salary of $1,000. The mayor and the mayor pro-tem are elected to two-year terms from among the council members at the first regular meeting after the election. Candidates for Vail Town Council must be:- U.S. citizens.- Registered to vote in Vail.- At least 21 years old.- A Vail resident for two years immediately preceding the election.The history of an oddball termIn September, amid rabid speculation on whether he would step down before or on Election Day, Nov. 4, Vail’s mayor at the time, Ludwig Kurz, announced he would stay on and complete his term.”I feel very strongly it’s the right thing to do,” said Kurz, a member of the Town Council since 1996, who is term-limited and cannot run for council unless he sits out for two years.Now it’s up to the voters to decide who replaces Kurz, who after last week’s selection of Rod Slifer as the town’s next mayor, is now a regular member of the council until Feb. 3, when his replacement is sworn in for a four-year term.The following is a timeline on just why there’s another election on Jan. 27:- 1996 – Ludwig Kurz, a native of Austria who moved to Vail decades ago to work as a ski instructor, was elected in a special election held Jan. 30, 1996, to fill a mid-year term on the Town Council following the Nov. 27, 1995, resignation of Peggy Osterfoss. Kurz received 221 votes; a second candidate, E.B. Chester received 141. Kurz was sworn in on Feb. 6, 1996. His term of office ran to Nov. 1997.- 1997 – The next year, in the regular elections of November 1997, Kurz was the second-highest vote-getter, winning a four-year seat on the council.Meanwhile, Rob Ford, the top vote-getter was elected to a four-year term and was named mayor for two years by the Town Council.- 1999 – Two years later, in November 1999, Ford resigned, fulfilling his two-year term as mayor but leaving his four-year term uncompleted. The November regular elections, in which four seats normally would have been up for grabs, also was used to fill Ford’s, and the council voted to name Kurz as mayor for two years, with then-Councilwoman Sybill Navas to serve two years as mayor pro-tem.- 2001 – As Kurz’s four-year term on the council expired, he again ran for re-election in the regular election of November 2001, earning enough votes as third-highest vote-getter for yet another four-year term on council, and the council again elects him as mayor for the next two years, with Slifer as mayor pro-tem.However, because Kurz was first elected Jan. 30, 1996, to fill the unexpired term of Osterfoss – and because the Town Charter says a council member can only serve eight consecutive years at a time – Kurz can serve only until the eighth anniversary of the day he first took office.Vail election information- Dec. 8 – First day for circulation of nominating petitions to Town Council candidates.- Dec. 26 – Last day for candidates to file nominating petitions with the Town Clerk’s Office.- Jan. 15 – Early voting and absentee balloting begins.- Jan. 27 – Election Day. Polls at the Donovan Pavilion are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.- Feb. 3 – Winner sworn in for a four-year term.To be eligible to vote in the Vail elections, a person must be:- A full-time resident with a current, legal address in the town of Vail for at least six months.- 18 years old or older.- A U.S. citizen.- Registered to vote in Eagle County.The special election this year are not coordinated with any other election.For more information, contact the Vail Town Clerk’s Office at 479-2136 or the Eagle County Clerk’s Office at 328-8710.