Vail candidates want better relations with Vail Resorts
Vail CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – In long, drawn-out election seasons, issues from beneath the surface often emerge and become talkers among candidates.
Vail, Colorado’s election season officially began earlier this month, giving the nine candidates running for the Town Council’s four open seats about one month to campaign, debate and study up on what’s important to the town and its residents.
The Vail Daily and the Vail Homeowners Association hosted the second candidate forum Wednesday at the Donovan Pavilion with a list of questions that tried to find out the issues behind the issues. What emerged wasn’t much different from the candidate forum last week, but larger issues did become more apparent, and election distractions became very apparent.
Questions about annexing Eagle-Vail, global warming, retrofitting Dobson Ice Arena for health and wellness opportunities and buying the old Colorado Mountain College campus at the Cascade Resort were brushed aside by most candidates – they aren’t at the heart of what’s really important for the town right now, candidates said.
The economy is every candidate’s No. 1 priority and talking point – they talk of the unknown future, how to plan and prepare for it and how their ideas for trimming the budget would best serve the town and its guests. Those answers were obvious, but it was things like the town’s relationship with Vail Resorts and the town’s relationship with the community that became the talkers of the night.
Candidates mostly agreed that Vail Resorts and the town of Vail need to sit down and work together. Incumbent Kim Newbury said she thinks the relationship has improved in the past couple of years, but she agreed it could improve more.
“They’re people just like we are,” Newbury said.
From candidate Kerry Donovan suggesting sitting down over beers or “maybe some shots” to incumbent Kevin Foley’s thoughts on getting the company to release its Lionshead parking-structure deed restriction, the candidates had various ideas of relationship-improvement strategies.
“Respect is the foundation of all productive interaction,” candidate Scott Proper said.
The interaction among the candidates was full of respect – so much that the forum was slightly dull in that candidates’ answers weren’t all that different from one another. And other than three audience-submitted questions at the end of the forum, the candidates prepared their answers for 20 questions they knew ahead of time, taking out the element of surprise.
One of those prearranged questions asked candidates to criticize the previous Town Council for any faults it may have had. A few candidates played the question safe, while others revealed what they thought was wrong.
Candidate and former Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz said the previous council has done poorly in its dealings with constituents and the public. Incumbent Kevin Foley said the council could improve its demeanor and how it engages the public. Incumbent Mark Gordon said the town should do a better job setting its agendas so the public always has opportunities to comment.
Candidate Susie Tjossem took it one step further by saying the town needs to have public comment at its work-session meetings as well as its regular-session meetings.
Candidate Mike Charles said the town’s inability to improve its relationship with Vail Resorts was a fault, while Donovan said the town should do better in engaging people in the town process. Candidates Proper and Buddy Lazier commended the council and didn’t criticize it, and Newbury said the town should focus on the policy issues and not get bogged down with micromanaging everything.
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