Vail incumbents undecided about election
With the next election a little more than two months away, Vail Town Council incumbents and Mayor Ludwig Kurz say they are uncertain about their futures in ski resort politics.
Councilman Rod Slifer, a former mayor, says he has not yet decided whether to run for reelection in November. He and Town Councilman Greg Moffet have until early next month to decide.
“You need a fire in the belly and the desire to do it,” says Slifer, who has lived in Vail since the earliest days of the resort in the early “60s.
At the end of his term in November, Slifer will have served 12 years in two separate stints on the Town Council. Town term limits prevent a council member from serving more than eight years in a row. A Town Council member may, however, serve eight years, sit out the two years until the next election and then run for a seat.
“I’ve got to make sure I’ll be elected,” Slifer joked. “What would happen if I didn’t get elected?”
Moffet, whose term also expires in November, was not available for comment Thursday.
But Councilman Chuck Ogilby has made his decision – he says he’s not going to seek a second term. He says he has accomplished many of the goals he set for himself when he was elected four years ago.
“I came in with a very definite platform and every one of the platform items I wanted to accomplish has been done or is in the pipeline,” Ogilby said. “I feel pretty satisfied – I’m a happy guy.”
Among those accomplishments are building Donovan Park and a pavilion in West Vail, the town’s purchase of employee housing at Timber Ridge, and the final approval of the large affordable housing complex in Middle Creek, which is now under construction across Interstate 70 from Vail Village.
The ski company
Improving the town’s relationship with Vail Resorts was another major accomplishment of the last four years, Ogilby said.
The ski company had spent much of its energy and money on the slopes while the village was falling into some disrepair and needed attention, Ogilby said.
“We’ve immensely improved our relationship, and that didn’t come without a lot of work on both sides,” he said. “But Vail Resorts has refocused its energies on Vail Village, instead of the mountain.”
Vail Resorts plans to renovate Lionshead extensively by building two new luxury hotels and a new plaza and ice rink at the base of the gondola. The company also is redesigning the base of Vail Mountain where it borders Vail Village.
Ogilby said he also is pleased a home has been found in Lionshead for Vail’s proposed – and somewhat controversial – conference center. Some expect the facility, narrowly approved by voters in November, will give the local economy a major boost by attracting large conferences and conventions throughout the year.
In the coming months, the town also should finalize funding for street renovations in both Lionshead and Vail Village, including installing snow-melting systems along Bridge Street and its cross streets, Ogilby said.
The town also has supported the operation of day care centers at City Market and at Middle Creek.
A final accomplishment Ogilby listed was opening the whitewater park along Gore Creek in Vail Village, which has hosted several kayaking competitions.
The park was once threatened by lawsuits in the state’s water court, which could have left the stretch of Gore Creek without enough water for kayaking. The case ended up at the state Supreme Court and Vail emerged with its whitewater park intact, Ogilby said.
“We’ve built the whitewater park and got the rights to run it, which was an absolutely huge accomplishment,” he said. “That was a major, major water battle that was won.”
Kurz does not have to run for reelection, but he has an unusual choice because his eight years on the council end in February. He can keep his seat until February, when an election would be held to replace him.
Kurz could also step down this fall, so residents could cast votes for all five open seats in November, instead of voting for four council members and then returning to the polls three months later to fill Kurz’s seat.
“I’m going to consult with a few people,” Kurz said earlier this week. “A number of people have said to me, “We elected you and we want you to stay as long as you can.’
“I’ll do a little soul-searching,” Kurz added.
Incumbent Councilman Bill Jewitt, who was elected to a two-year term in 2001, will run for reelection. He and retired businessman Kent Logan, who also intends to run, are attempting to form a pro-business slate and are looking for candidates to join them.
“If four people agree on a philosophy, they can move forward and get things done,” Jewitt says. “We’re looking for like-minded people to embrace our vision.”
Councilwoman Diana Donovan and Councilman Dick Cleveland have two years left in their current terms.
Council challengers emerging for fall race
Several Vail residents say they’re considering a run for Vail Town Council this fall, though few have declared their candidacy officially.
Either four or five seats will be up for grabs in November, depending on whether Mayor Ludwig Kurz decides to step down before the election or finish his term, which expires in February.
Two residents considering runs are Mark Gordon, a foreman at Vail’s communications center, and Stephen Connolly, the former director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association who is now an assistant manager for Vail Sports.
“If I choose to run I believe I can bring a fresh and innovative approach to governing and have a positive influence on the quality of life in the town of Vail,” Gordon says.
He says he would push a “pro-community platform” focused on business, full-time and part-time residents and tourists.
“My wife and I live here; we own a house here; we’re in process of adopting a child here,” Gordon says. “I want to make sure it’s the best possible place it can be.”
Connolly says his experience with the Vail Chamber is one reason he’s considering a bid for council.
“I wouldn’t say I’m running right now, but it’s been suggested that I should do it and I am exploring the possibilities,” Connolly says. “I enjoyed the work I did with the business community. I like trying to bring people together for the better of our community.”
Connolly also says he feels added responsibility to the people who’ve suggested he’d make a strong candidate.
“When people suggest that you should do something like this, you feel like you have a bit more civic duty at that point,” Connolly says.
Retired businessman Kent Logan says he intends to run in a coalition with incumbent councilman Bill Jewitt, who is running to keep his seat. The pair is looking to expand their coalition, Logan says.
“The council is criticized for trying to please everyone, rather than focusing on the important issues,” Logan says. “It takes a party that’s going to focus on five things and not spend time on 25 things.”
Nino Licciardi, the chairman of the Vail Recreation District, says he hasn’t decided not to run.
“I have not closed the door to any future political ambitions,” Licciardi says.
There has been speculation outspoken Vail businesswoman Kaye Ferry will run. But Ferry, who’s openly backing the coalition of Jewitt and Logan, says she’s “hoping not to” be a candidate.
“I’ve decided nothing,” Ferry says. “My choice is to not run and I’m going to try desperately to maintain that.”
She says she will stay out of the race if two or three qualified candidates join Jewitt and Logan’s platform.
“It’s not a very fun job and this council and the one prior have made it even less so. They’ve refused to take any decisive action,” Ferry says. “People think it’s a waste of time.”
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.