Vail Town Council candidate Taylor Strickland: Youth is no barrier to public service
Taylor Strickland is one of 10 candidates — including three incumbents — running for Vail Town Council. The polling-place election is Nov. 7. The other candidates are:
• Dave Chapin
• Travis Coggin
• Mark Gordon
• Rodney Johnson
• Edward Padilla
• Brian Rodine
Editor’s note: There are 10 candidates this year for four seats on the Vail Town Council. For the next seven weekdays, the Vail Daily is publishing a profile of each candidate. Profiles are being published in no particular order, and previously published profiles can be found at http://www.vaildaily.com.
VAIL — Taylor Strickland will be the first to acknowledge her youth — she’s 24 — but is confident she can bring fresh ideas and leadership to Vail. She also believes she’s quickly tapped into issues important to Vail and the broader valley.
Strickland for the past two years has worked for ReComm Global, a public relations firm owned by longtime local Pat Peeples.
Like many locals, Strickland landed her job through a combination of her own skill and a bit of chance.
She was with her father at a golf event at the Red Sky Ranch and Golf Course in Wolcott a couple of summers ago, having recently graduated from the University of Texas. On the course, she met John Rizzi, the editor of Colorado Avid Golfer magazine. Rizzi introduced Strickland to Peeples. An interview and job offer followed within a few days. She moved to Vail in August of 2015.
She wanted to live in East Vail because she wanted to be where people are. She soon discovered that a lot of people near her age are already moving downvalley.
“I don’t see people my age that often,” she said.
Still, she enjoys living in Vail and wants to be part of the efforts to attract younger residents and keep them in town.
Part of keeping younger residents engaged with the town beyond its social life is giving those people a voice in the town government. That isn’t happening, she said.
Breaking through the old guard
“There’s an old guard of Vail — people who cycle through the council,” she said. “From an outsider’s perspective, it seems impossible to crack that.”
Strickland believes that her job gives her an advantage in making the contacts needed to break into town government.
“Working for (Peeples) gives you a direct line to the community, so it’s easy for me to visualize being in the (council) role,” Strickland said. “I’ve always been someone who enjoys being more engaged. I want to live here and be a part of the evolution of the town.”
Strickland — who grew up in the Denver area — hopes to continue her community service efforts from her days in college. As a senior, she was vice president in the student government. For that role at a college with 54,000 students, she had to earn more votes than the total of several Vail Town Council elections.
While looking at the town and its current projects, Strickland sees a need for better workforce housing.
The 32-unit Chamonix townhome neighborhood is a “small dent” in the town’s housing needs, although the sale prices “weren’t all that affordable,” she said.
Still, she added, the project will be good for the people who live there.
But more is needed, although that “won’t happen overnight,” she said.
Living in Vail and working in Edwards, Strickland said the town’s bus system is a good one but more coordination with the county’s ECO Transit system is needed.
“The bus from Vail to Edwards gets me there in 20 minutes,” she said. “But it’s expensive, and it’s not seen as a feasible option all the time.”
Solutions aren’t simple.
“It takes a conversation where we can figure out efficiencies,” she said. That could include finding more park-and-ride facilities outside of town, given the limited land available for new parking in Vail.
The goal of any valleywide project needs to start with pulling in “every possible commission and committee into every possible conversation.”
As an African-American living in a town with a predominantly white population, Strickland said if elected, she’ll work to make Vail as inclusive a community as possible.
“Creating an inclusive community is sometimes assumed,” she said, adding the town should do everything possible to “make sure everyone is welcome and safe.”
Given that there’s been a drop in Latin American visitors to Vail — a combination of a strong dollar and the election of President Donald Trump are both potential, if unverified, causes — “We don’t want people to think Vail isn’t inclusive,” Strickland said.
Strickland said her job and current commitments will still allow her plenty of time to fulfill her council duties, if she’s elected.
“I’m young, but I’m not inexperienced,” she said. “I’m used to working with government systems. I have time to serve.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.