Vail candidates face the public
VAIL, Colorado – Seven people will usually have a lot of different opinions, but this fall’s batch of Vail Town Council were unanimous about a couple of things: Town voters need to pass Ballot Question 1, and the economy is the biggest issue facing the community.The seven candidates gathered at Donovan Pavilion Thursday to answer a series of questions from both forum organizers and the public. And, while all seven were quick to endorse the ballot question, all echoed many of the same basic themes.Former council members Ludwig Kurz, Farrow Hitt and Greg Moffet all cited their experience and willingness to work for the community. Incumbents Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers talked about the town’s successes during the nation’s economic slump. And newcomers Stephen Connolly and Rayla Kundolf talked about their eagerness to work for the betterment of the town.Rogers repeatedly talked about the need for Vail to establish a “third leg” of its economy in addition to tourism and real estate. In Rogers’ mind, that means focusing bringing more medical business to Vail. More “health and wellness” business would help create a more stable, 12-month economy, Rogers said, and would also bring good jobs to town.While health and wellness is a priority for Rogers, all seven candidates also said they support the idea of a partnership with Vail Valley Medical Center, the Steadman Clinic and other partners to redevelop the town’s municipal buildings.Asked about Vail’s relationship with other local governments in the valley, most said they believe Vail is a pretty good neighbor. But Moffet, a member of the Eagle County Planning and Zoning Commission, said the town’s relationship with county officials needs both work and constant attention. “The county needs us at the table asking questions,” Moffet said.All the candidates said Vail has done a good job of weathering the current economy, but had different ideas about how to keep the town and resort in a leadership position in the industry.Kurz said the town could help local businesses by doing less micromanaging. Daly and Rogers said the town could streamline its regulations for small businesses. Kundolf and Hitt stressed special events. Both Moffet and Connolly said the council should be more open in the way it deals with the public.After the candidates answered questions from forum organizers – The Vail Chamber & Business Association, KZYR, the Vail Board of Realtors and the Vail Daily – the group fielded written questions from the audience, including one about how friendly the council would be to local families if no council members had kids at home.”You don’t need to have kids at home to understand how valuable they are to the community – you can’t be a community without kids,” Rogers said.That led to some discussion about what might happen to Red Sandstone Elementary School if the Eagle County School District doesn’t pass its tax increase this fall.Rogers said there would be “bodies in front of bulldozers” if the district proposed closing the school. Moffet said the town might own the property the school sits on, which could lead to other opportunities.After the debate, relatively new Vail resident Cali Adkisson said the forum made her decision who to vote for more difficult.”All of them were really well-spoken,” Adkisson said.Residents Pete Fiestmann and John Mueller said their opinions of the candidates didn’t change much from the start of the forum until it ended.”But we have seven very good candidates,” Fiestmann said.And, Mueller added, “It always helps out to hear them.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.