Vail council race: Tjossem says she’s pro-business
VAIL ” It was love at first sight for Susie Tjossem and Vail. She came here with her high-school ski club in the late ’60s.
“I absolutely fell in love with it and knew that’s where I wanted to spend a lot of time,” he said.
She moved here a few years later and got a job at Pepi Sports. Originally, she was going to stay in Vail for a year.
“Here I am, 34 years later,” she said.
Tjossem, now the executive director of the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum, is one of 10 residents running for Vail Town Council in the Nov. 6 election.
She says she’s a pro-business, pro-development candidate who can build consensus and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
After traveling a lot over the last few years for business, she wants to reimmerse herself in the community, she said.
She has broad business experience, she said, from working with Vail Resorts to working at other ski resorts to working for the nonprofit ski museum.
Tjossem is originally from Denver, and her mother grew up in Leadville. Tjossem recalls using her mom’s old 10th Mountain Division skis when she went on a school ski trip as an 8-year-old. The tips broke before she could actually ski, to her great embarrassment.
Nonetheless, Tjossem developed a love of skiing. That was part of the reason why she moved to Vail after attending the University of Colorado. She was also really intrigued by the European flair of the town, she said.
A few years later, she was hired to be a ski instructor. She rose through the ranks at the ski school, developing the resort’s teaching program for young children. She’s proud of that accomplishment.
“It’s one of the reasons that Vail and Beaver Creek have the reputation of being a family resort,” she said.
She eventually became director of the ski school and, then, vice president of sports and recreation for Vail and Beaver Creek.
After that position was eliminated, she jumped to George Gillett’s Booth Creek Ski Holdings, serving as vice president of product development for the company. She traveled to ski resorts around the country, studying how they ran their mountains.
That experience gave her a great perspective on how other resorts attack problems that Vail has, too, she said.
Earlier this year, she took the job with the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum.
Tjossem said there’s no one issue that she wants to advocate above others.
“I’m not a one-burning-issue candidate,” she said.
She does wants to make sure that businesses have enough workers.
“When you think about attracting and retaining quality employees, what do they need? It’s the hierarchy of need. They need affordable housing. They need wages. They need benefits. They need transportation.”
Tjossem also said she’s pro-development.
“We have to keep moving ahead,” she said. “As soon as we stop, people are going to catch up with us, and we have to stay competitive.”
Vail needs to slow down when it comes to approving the Lionshead parking structure, even though the project has a lot of benefits for Vail, she said.
The timing of the project is problematic, she said, because it can’t be started until the Ever Vail parking garage is completed.
“What is the rush?” she said. “I think there’s a lot of great, beneficial attributes to it, but it’s kind of getting the cart before the horse.”
Tjossem said she’ll be a good listener, but also outspoken.
“I am definitely not afraid to speak my mind,” she said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.