Vail Daily letter: My candidacy for county commissioner
August 6, 2010
As you know the primary election is Aug. 10. In the primary, my opponent and I are running unopposed in our respective political parties. By the general election, Nov. 2, the differences between us will be very clear.
I think it is necessary for you to know my political views and why I decided it was more important to me to run for Eagle County commissioner than to keep my job as property manager of Riverview Apartments. I also hope that you will agree to share your ideas on how I can improve Eagle County government. I believe in freedom of expression and the importance of honest debate in the political process. You have a right to know what I stand for and I want to know what is important to you.
Let me tell you a bit about myself. My name is Claudia Alexander. I am the grandchild of Italian immigrants who entered the United States legally at Ellis Island. Born and raised in northeastern Ohio, I grew up in the country, surrounded by woodlands, Amish farms and green rolling hills. When I was 16 my family moved to Michigan, where I finished high school and attended Eastern Michigan University. I have three married children, Brian, Todd and Heather; and three grandchildren, Skylar, Riley and Jakob. Our family is expecting the birth of our second grand-daughter in September. I live in Gypsum with my husband, Jeremiah Smith.
My career path has been both varied and interesting. Initially I trained as a real estate agent but soon found myself doing subdivision management. As such I handled all the sales, contracts and other complexities of several upscale residential projects. I worked with the purchasers and the architects revising the designs to meet each individual owner’s expectations while at the same time acting as the site manager.
In 1990, I took a new position as the director of the Global Office Network in Northfield, Ill. GON was a small network of independent American business centers, with three centers in Europe. I was invited to speak to the delegates at the yearly convention of the European Network in Frankfurt, Germany. The presentation resulted in a European tour of the business centers, meeting with the owners of these centers the European Network. Before I returned to the United States, I had expanded the company to an international organization with 150 members worldwide.
I have always loved senior citizens. The care and treatment of our seniors is a vitally important issue facing Eagle County and the United States today. After relocating to Florida in 1992, I accepted a job as the receptionist of a 97-apartment assisted-living facility. Three months later, I became the facility’s administrator managing the staff, the facility’s budget and the health care of the residents.
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I learned a great deal from the owner of this company. It was the beginning of my long and successful career in the management of assisted-care facilities. During my career I have managed in multi-million dollar facilities in Florida, Michigan and Washington state. I now have international recognition of my work and currently am advising a group of United Kingdom businessmen who are planning to build an assisted living village located on the southern edge of London.
Since 2005 I have been the property manager of various Eagle County apartment sites. My experience as an Eagle County employee led to my decision to seek election as your commissioner.
While I served as the site manager at the Golden Eagle Senior Apartments, I learned that Eagle County, which had purchased the complex in 2003, was subsidizing the operations of the complex with a hefty annual payment of $56,000 of your tax dollars. I did an analysis of the maintenance costs, reduced staff and in 2008 presented the first subsidy free budget to the Board of Directors.
As a result, I have saved Eagle County tax payers more than $150,000 over the last three years! Also in 2008 I was honored to be named Colorado’s “Site Manager of the Year” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Division. This award was based on various criteria including compliance with rural development property regulations, letters from the community and the residents of Golden Eagle.
My concerns: Eagle County has created sub-corporations, which in turn own the following apartment complexes: Riverview Apartments, Seniors on Broadway Apartments, Golden Eagle Senior Apartments and Lake Creek Apartments. Having managed three of these four properties, I have intimate insight into the operations and can say without reservation that Eagle County government should not be in the business of managing apartments!
When I left the employ of Eagle County on May 7 this year, the county had yet to develop any property management policies or procedures for staff to follow, except for one procedure implemented in January of this year. Furthermore, only a minimal amount of oversight is exercised by the county Housing Department. Despite that, the Housing Department extracts annual management fees from three apartment complexes. This money would be far better spent improving these assets.
As required, a county commissioner must be on the board of directors of each of the sub-corporations. However, our director of housing and director of finance also currently sit on the five-member board, along with two community members. I believe it is time for Eagle County government to reduce its size and scope of operation and return to basics to preserve our current reserves.
My political philosophy: I stand for less government on all levels from federal to local. I would like to see a return to the basic principles set out in the U.S. and Colorado constitutions.
I believe that the Eagle County government has acted incorrectly on a number of issues. It has exceeded its authority by acting as a lending institution in the down payment assistance.
The county has wasted $4.5 million of our tax dollars on the Stratton Flats development. The unfinished project became a liability when the developer walked away but Eagle County has officially deemed it an “asset.” The county government also loses important revenues by strangling growth with its burdensome building regulations and planning requirements.
I believe in the free market and encouraging private business and industry. Because small businesses in America create the majority of new employment, our county government must work to encourage new small businesses to develop locally.
I believe the county needs to go back to the basics outlined by the Colorado Constitution for county governance.
I believe that elected officials have a duty to the voters to provide prudent and responsible stewardship of public assets and tax dollars
What I will do when elected: With my management experience, coupled with my proven ability to make difficult decisions including serious budget cuts, I intend to bring the current spending spree to an end.
I will use my management skills to restructure the way the government operates; for instance, I will require each department to develop sound operational and fiscal policies and procedures. I will work hand in hand with the employees to identify waste by implementing employees’ ideas on saving money, then rewarding them for their ideas rather than pay outside “consultants” to tell us what we already know.
I believe that Eagle County employees should have the opportunity to advance within the county government. Most county department heads have been hired from outside while qualified and experienced long-term county employees are passed over or forced into early retirement. Additionally spouses and/or friends of department heads are hired to fill vacancies of trusted employees.
I believe that our county employees hold the key. I know how knowledgeable, talented and committed these professionals are. I will encourage and rely on their professionalism to make Eagle County government a responsive, cost effective operation.
I know that I can achieve this goal because over the past 17 years I have successfully turned around a number of failing operations. Your vote for me in November will bring a new vision, philosophy and positive energy to Eagle County government.
Please e-mail me at Claudia@electclaudia.com with your concerns and ideas.
Candidate for Eagle County Commissioner, 3rd District