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Vail candidates rank economy high

Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@vaildaily.com
Vail CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – One thing apparent at the Vail, Colorado, Chamber and Business Association’s candidate forum Wednesday is that the new Vail, Colorado, Town Council will have plenty to do as new members take office in November.

The economy stood out as the underlying theme of the evening. Whether it was the town’s need to cut salaries or the need to invest more in marketing, everything related back to the economy.

“In uncertain economic times, and with sales tax revenues stagnant, we have to keep a good eye on those (things) and respond and make sure we’re steering the economic ship in the right direction,” said candidate and incumbent Kevin Foley.



The way to steer that ship is through a variety of ways, and all nine candidates seemed to agree on at least one thing – marketing and special events.

One of the first questions of the evening was how the town can act as a stimulus for its economic recovery.



Obvious answers were to continue marketing campaigns, like Vail All the Love, the town claims worked in 2009. Many candidates said the town should host more events to attract people to Vail.

The town’s ability to put “more feet on the streets,” as candidate Susie Tjossem put it, heavily relies on its events, she said.

“Energy, vitality – that’s what events do for us,” Tjossem said.



Vision

Looking ahead, Vail Town Council candidates had many similar and different ideas of what the most pressing Vail issues are in 2010. Candidates who plan to pay close attention to the economy and plan to listen closely to constituents’ concerns were obvious answers, but candidates differed on things like parking and capital projects.

Tjossem and Ludwig Kurz, a current candidate and former Vail mayor, said cars parking along the Frontage Road aren’t necessarily a bad thing because it shows people are in town and spending money.

“To me, parking is not necessarily a problem,” Kurz said. “If we don’t have people on the Frontage Road, I think that would be somewhat of a failure on our part.”

The current council has been talking about prioritizing its capital projects wish list recently, and Town Manager Stan Zemler told candidates Tuesday night that it would be one of the new council’s first major tasks.

Candidate and incumbent Kim Newbury said one of a town government’s main roles is to provide infrastructure, so completing capital projects in the order in which the town prioritizes them is a goal she’d like to accomplish.

Newbury said the town shouldn’t cut service levels to where guests would notice a difference from the services in town five years ago.

That topic related to the overall idea that the town is going from a real estate-based economy to a tourist-based economy.

Candidate and Vail native Buddy Lazier said the town is in a competition now to not only get back to its number one position as a resort town, but the town is also competing for guests and their discretionary dollars, Lazier said.

The town can’t compete for those dollars without things like employee housing, which candidates Newbury, Scott Proper, Tjossem, Foley and Mark Gordon all put in their top three priorities for 2010.

There are four open seats for the Vail Town Council with nine candidates running for the election, which is Nov. 3.


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