Vail council race: Daly wants to fill leadership void |

Vail council race: Daly wants to fill leadership void

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyAndy Daly says his business experience will be valuable on Town Council as members with private-sector backgrounds leave the board.

VAIL ” Andy Daly has a cartoon in his office that depicts the Energizer bunny with the word “Category III” on it.

“It keeps going and going and going,” the cartoon reads.

The cartoon is a reminder of an episode ” both painful and triumphant ” that helped define Daly’s leadership, to date, in the community.

He was the face of Vail Resorts when eco-terrorists burned down Two Elk Lodge in protest of the Category III expansion, later known as Blue Sky Basin. That act came after years of study and contentious debate on the proposed expansion.

He rallied the company and the community after the fires, and Vail was ready for the 1999 World Championships just a few months later ” Blue Sky opened and was a huge success, he said.

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“It gave us an opportunity to bring the community together,” Daly said.

Just as Daly provided leadership then, he said, he can provide leadership as the town is losing veteran council members.

“It’s really a desire to contribute more to the community, and, second, I felt I could really add something to it based on the experience I’ve had over the years,” Daly said.

He is one of 10 Vail residents running for five open spots on Town Council.

Daly’s overarching goal is to retain the quality of life that Vail’s residents enjoy, he said. As part of that goal, he wants to create affordable housing so there’s a middle class in Vail.

“They are really invested in the success of the community,” he said.

Vail needs people living in town, running businesses, having their kids go to school here and helping with special events, Daly said.

Also, Daly said he has the financial expertise to help the town as it faces a projected budget shortfall of $25.8 million.

“I’ve been dealing with big numbers for a long time,” he said.

He advocates more environmental advocacy, perhaps using geothermal energy to heat the sidewalks.

Daly supports the $600 million proposal to renovate the Lionshead parking structure because it would bring more parking and a “critical mass” of stores and restaurants to Lionshead.

His tenure with Vail Resorts, which ended when his position as president of the company was eliminated, would help him as a councilman, he said.

“I think what it gives me is a unique insight into Vail Resorts’ and a much broader understanding of what their motivation is as a public company, and how we need to make sure that, as we do work and partner with Vail Resorts, we do it in a way that’s a win-win for both the community and Vail Resorts,” Daly said.

Daly grew up in Andover, Mass., and attended the University of Pennsylvania. With plans to eventually join the family pharmaceutical-distribution company after getting a few years of business experience, Daly headed West to find himself, planning to stay for a month.

He got a job at Aspen, working on the trail crew, and stayed. He later joined the ski patrol. He jumped to Copper Mountain when that resort opened in 1972, and swiftly rose through the ranks until he became president of Copper in the early ’80s.

He left Copper in 1987 and formed a company that bought Eldora, reopening the dormant Front Range ski resort. A couple of years later, Vail Associates bought a stake in Eldora and Daly became an executive at VA. In 1992, he became president and chief executive officer of Vail Associates.

The company was transformed during his tenure. When he joined Vail Associates, it was owned by the Gillett family. By the time he left in a reorganization in 2002, it had been bought by a Wall Street investment group, gone public and bought Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly.

Daly was later inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. He is now developing a neighborhood near Steamboat Springs.

Daly still skis 60 days a year. The sport has been a guiding force in Daly’s life.

“Skiing, in my experience, has attracted people that tend to be independent, free-spirited, have a lot of energy, have a lot of enthusiasm, and those are the people I’ve enjoyed relating to,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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