Vail council race: Cleveland wants more smiles
VAIL ” It’s his experience, above all, that makes him a good candidate for the Vail Town Council, Dick Cleveland said.
“It’s important to have an experienced council at this time,” Cleveland said. “It’s good to have people that have a sense of history as to how we got where we are today.”
Seasoned leaders ” Rod Slifer, Greg Moffet and Kent Logan ” are leaving the board in November.
Cleveland was elected to a four-year term on council in 2001, but was not re-elected in 2005. He called that a disappointment, and thought about abandoning his civic involvement.
“I certainly thought about walking away and being done with it,” Cleveland said. “But I’m not a quitter.”
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So he dove back into work with other town boards. He was on the liquor board and is now the chairman of the town’s planning commission.
“I’ve been as involved as I was when I was on the council,” he said.
With large projects ahead for the council, including the Lionshead parking structure, Ever Vail and Timber Ridge, it’s an important time for the town, he said. And he can get results, he said.
“I’m used to getting things done,” he said. “I think the public has a right to expect results.”
When Cleveland was a child in California, his father instilled a strong work ethic in him. Cleveland had to mow the lawn twice ” once each direction ” to make sure it was neat and tidy.
“When I was growing up, you did it right or you didn’t do it at all,” he said.
That’s an ethic that Cleveland carries with himself still. When he was last on council, he was a frequent volunteer for the auxiliary committees that council members serve on. He served on the parking task force, the ECO Transit board, the executive committee of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, the town’s open space committee and the West Vail master plan committee.
After going to college at UCLA, Cleveland went to graduate school to study architecture for a while, but decided to become a police officer. He was a policeman for several years in California, and then answered a classified ad in the San Francisco Chronicle for a job as a policeman in Vail.
He loved the small-town atmosphere he found here.
“You pretty much knew everyone in town,” he said.
That sense of the community has remained over the years, he said, despite the downvalley exodus of many people.
He worked for the Vail Police for about 10 years. After working in construction for a few years, he returned to law enforcement, running a drug task force in the District Attorney’s Office. He later became chief investigator for the office.
He was chairman of the Eagle Valley Trails Committee for more than a decade, and still serves on its board.
A huge issue facing Vail now is finding enough workers, he said.
“I think that’s our biggest liability,” he said.
The answer to that problem lies not only in creating affordable housing but also in parking and transportation, primarily the local bus systems, Cleveland said.
One solution is looking at ways the town can work with private businesses to create more affordable housing, with the town providing land for housing.
“The town has to look at every piece of property it owns,” he said.
And because of the lack of available land in town, Vail needs to look beyond its borders for housing solutions, too, he said.
Cleveland also said he wants the town to do more to be an environmental leader. That includes encouraging green building and buying more hybrid buses, he said.
He questioned some of the spending of the current town council, including the windmill art installation this year on the Vail golf course.
“It was poorly executed and it wasn’t thought through,” he said. “We need to be more prudent in how we spend money.”
If he’s elected, this time on council is going to be different, Cleveland said.
“We need to laugh more,” he said. “We take ourselves way too seriously.”
People told him he needs to smile more, and they were right, he said.
The end of his last term was marked by an intense debate over the Crossroads proposal, a condo-movie theater-bowling alley project in Vail Village. He opposed it, and ” along with Diana Donovan, another councilwoman who opposed the project ” was voted off the board at election time.
“I got caught on the losing side of a populist uprising,” he said, adding that he is not anti-development and approved many large projects while on council.
The Crossroads project, now called Solaris, was approved by voters in July 2006.
He’s certain that he would have been re-elected had he changed his vote and supported Crossroads. But he said he would vote the same way today.
“I say what I mean and I mean what I say,” and that whole episode was proof of that, he said.
But, in this campaign, he doesn’t want to talk about Crossroads.
“I’m not looking back,” he said. “I’m looking forward.”
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.