Vail Town Council candidate Bart Longworth hopes to help keep town a ‘shining star’
Bart Longworth is one of 10 candidates — including three incumbents — running this fall for seats on the Vail Town Council. The polling-place election is Nov. 7. The other candidates are:
• Jenn Bruno
• Dave Chapin
• Travis Coggin
• Mark Gordon
• Rodney Johnson
• Greg Moffet
• Edward Padilla
• Brian Rodine
• Taylor Strickland
For more information, go to http://www.vailgov.com.
Editor’s note: There are 10 candidates this year for four seats on the Vail Town Council. For the next 10 weekdays, the Vail Daily is publishing a profile of each candidates. Profiles are being published in no particular order.
VAIL — Go to virtually any community event in Vail, and you’ll notice the crowds tend to be predominantly older residents. Bart Longworth wants to help change that.
Longworth is in his early 40s, and a relatively recent Vail resident — he moved to town about four years ago. For much of that time, he was one of the managers at 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co.
He landed the job through sheer persistence. Longworth was working at La Bottega restaurant in Vail Village at the time, and 10th Mountain co-founder Christian Avignon was a regular for lunch. Longworth emailed Avignon a resume, then another.
After a few days, Longworth told his future boss, “You’re either going to block my email or you’re going to hire me.” Longworth soon had a new job.
More recently, Longworth earned his real estate license. He’s now working with Bart and Andrew Cuomo at Vail Realty. He’s also still at 10th Mountain.
Longworth believes he’ll have the time to devote to a town council job.
Busier in his 40s
“I had a nice routine going,” he said. “When I turned 40, I decided to get busier.”
While this is Longworth’s first serious run at elective office, he’s currently a member of the Vail Local Licensing Authority, which reviews liquor license applications in the town. He also recently interviewed for a spot on the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
“The liquor board is fun — I really enjoy it,” Longworth said. “It’s been nice to see some of the inner workings of the town.”
Longworth decided to run for council this year for a couple of big reasons. He’s been interested in running for office since he was a child — “I wanted to be president,” he said.
More important, though, is his desire to keep Vail a vital place in the years to come.
“Vail needs an influx of youth and energy at this point,” Longworth said. “It’s pretty horrifying when you look at voter participation — the last (council) election only 900-some people voted.”
The reason, he believes, is that younger voters don’t have any motivation to participate in town politics. That’s going to prevent those younger people from putting down roots in town, he said.
Longworth believes he can be a connection between the town’s younger and older residents, adding that the town may “stagnate” without new, younger people getting involved with the town’s leadership.
Seeking to be a new voice
“We’ve been recycling the same people for a while,” he said. “It would be nice to get a new voice, a new perspective.”
Longworth’s platform includes driving the town toward more earnest sustainability efforts.
“It’s about switching people’s mentalities,” Longworth said. “The mountain, the river and (Gore) creek are our greatest resources. People have the ability, with the Epic Pass, to go anywhere. Vail needs to focus on being that shining star.”
Longworth said he’s been impressed by the town’s recent efforts regarding housing. On the other hand, he said, the Chamonix townhomes aren’t particularly affordable.
And, he added, for-sale, deed-restricted homes “shouldn’t be a retirement property — what’s the motivation to upgrade?”
In Longworth’s view, one of the town’s biggest challenges is to “lower the price of admission” for newcomers, whether it’s residents or new business owners.
“We need to make it easier for young business owners to take hold in Vail,” he said. Acknowledging that commercial-space rent is beyond the town government’s control, he said “there’s got to be ways for young business owners to get a foothold.”
If elected, then Longworth said he hopes he can look back at the end of his first term — whether two years or four — and see progress on a long-term “action plan” for the town, what he called a “clear vision” of where the town and valley are headed over the next 20 years or so.
Longworth said he wants to see Vail continue to be the “shining star” among mountain resorts, a place that still attracts newcomers among both visitors and residents.
That’s all hard work. But, Longworth said, learning about the town’s personalities and processes is fun, too.
“Some stuff seems like it should be easy,” he said. “But you can’t just ram stuff home.”