Vail council race: Newbury helps workers find homes
VAIL ” Every once in a while at a Vail Town Council meeting, the door opens behind the council bench and a small head, barely rising over the table, floats toward Kim Newbury.
The kid’s cameo among the sober politicians is a reminder of what Newbury is: A mother of two young children who’s working and raising her family in Vail.
“I’ve been the only woman on council for two years,” Newbury said. “I’ve been the youngest person on council for four years, and I bring that viewpoint of someone in affordable housing, someone trying to raise their family here, working hard, working full-time, but still interested in making sure it’s the best community it can be.”
Newbury, who has served on Town Council for four years, is seeking re-election as one of 10 candidates in the Nov. 6 election.
The Georgia native readily admits she wouldn’t still be in Vail if not for affordable housing. In fact, she’s lived in some kind of affordable housing for all of her 16 years in Vail.
And when it comes to listing her accomplishments over her last four years as a councilwoman, she starts with housing.
“I really think, even if I’m not re-elected, that I’ve been hugely successful in helping our council realize the importance of (affordable housing), which, I think, in turn, has helped the community realize the importance of it,” she said.
Indeed, housing has risen to the top of the town’s agenda over the last four years. Newbury helped the council pass strict requirements for developers to build affordable housing. The town also recently bought land in West Vail for a complex that is supposed to include worker housing.
Businesses need workers close by, she said. And, affordable housing creates lively, livable neighborhoods, she said.
“I like having neighbors that I know I can go knock on their door and ask them for a cup of sugar,” she said. “That I can say, ‘Hey, can you watch my kids at the park for 10 minutes when I go run down to the store?’ I don’t want to live somewhere where there are lights off all around me.”
Newbury touts other accomplishments by the council. On the environmental front, it has removed pine-beetle infested trees from the forest surrounding the town. It has bought hybrid buses for the town’s fleet. It banned wood roofs that could be more easily ignitable by fire. It passed a law that required bear-proof or bear-resistant trash cans in the town.
And Newbury supports the concept of the Lionshead parking structure redevelopment, citing benefits such as new hotel rooms, new stores, more parking and a new transit center.
“I think it’s a good thing for the town,” she said.
And as an incumbent councilwoman, she brings experience, having served on the council for four years. That experience is even more important with three current councilman leaving the board in November, she said.
“There’s a huge learning curve for council,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have some experience and continuity.”
A graduate of the University of Georgia, Newbury is an spirited fan of Southeastern Conference football, especially her Georgia Bulldogs. She loves the jam band Widespread Panic, too, and enjoys going to their concerts.
She’s also a certified etiquette consultant, and has taught manners classes at local schools. She gives the current council’s manners an A-.
“Every now and then someone will get a wild hair,” she said.
Newbury moved to Vail 16 years ago. She worked at Arrowhead for eight years, and has worked at the Tivoli Lodge in Vail Village for the last five years.
Newbury repudiates any criticism that she doesn’t have enough time as a single mother. She makes time for her duties as a councilwoman, and she’s setting a good example of civic involvement for her children, she said.
“I think it’s important for them to see it’s important to contribute to the community,” she said. “It’s not like I’m taking time away from my kids from being on council. They don’t remember a time when I wasn’t on council.”
And they like that Mom’s a councilwoman, too, she said.
“We like it that everybody knows you,” her kids told her, she said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.