Vail Town Council campaign signs get personal with ‘Vote No on Karen Perez’
Signs pulled from roundabouts after showing up over the weekend
This story has been corrected to more accurately reflect Vail Town Council member Kevin Foley’s position on the Booth Heights housing proposal.
VAIL — Campaign signs stating “Vail Vote No on Karen Perez Town Council” in the town’s roundabouts were taken down over the weekend.
Contacted Monday, Perez, who is one of seven candidates running for the four available council seats in November’s election, said she was shaken by the appearance of the signs around town. Perez said she suspects who might be responsible for the professionally-printed signs, but she doesn’t want to name that person until a police report has been filed naming them.
“I think it’s really awful that when people put themselves out there (for public service) they become targets,” Perez said.
Meanwhile, town crews removed the signs, in accordance with the town’s code.
Still, it isn’t every year that roundabout signs are pulled up.
Acting Vail Town Manager Patty McKenny has been the town clerk of both Vail and Avon. In an email, McKenny wrote that signs have appeared in the past in roundabouts in both towns, something she expects will happen again. But, she added, those signs are almost always removed. It’s a practice that spans McKenny’s local government career, which has included positions in Minturn and Silverthorne as well as Avon and Vail.
The picked-up campaign signs were all taken to the town’s shops. As of Monday at midday, only council candidates Kim Langmaid and Brian Stockmar had picked up their signs.
Vail Town Councilman Kevin Foley has lived in town roughly 40 years. Foley said he can’t remember signs urging voters to reject a specific candidate.
“I’ve never seen such a negative tactic (in Vail),” Foley said. “To attack her personally… this isn’t what I thought the citizens of Vail were all about.”
Perez is currently a member of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. She voted in the majority when that board, by one vote, approved the controversial Booth Heights housing proposal.
Foley on Sept. 3 voted in favor of a council review of that Aug. 26 decision — the motion failed — but said he hasn’t made up his mind about it. Perez “voted the way she felt after reviewing the criteria,” Foley said.
Vail resident Mark Gordon served on the council from 2005 through 2009. Gordon recalled that there were negative ads against him in that first run for office, and he was elected anyway, winning the most votes of any candidate in that election.
“The town has not responded well to negative ads,” Gordon said, adding that ultimately all Vail’s residents are neighbors.
“We need to coexist,” he said.
Perez said that if elected, she wants to use that position on council to try to heal some of the town’s current divisiveness.
Gordon called the anti-Perez signs “offensive.”
“I’ve seen divisiveness in town, but I’ve never seen the viciousness we’re seeing today,” he said.
National politics has given a kind of “green light for ugliness,” Gordon said. “I’d hoped Vail wouldn’t (follow suit).”
Gordon, a current member of the Vail Commission on Special Events, said there’s no way to monetize a town government position. People who serve on those boards do it “purely out of love for the town,” he said.
Gordon said he has ideas about who might have paid for, printed and distributed the signs, but he wouldn’t share those ideas on the record.
“These people are my neighbors,” he said.“But for a young attorney (Perez) who’s just trying to make a life in Vail to be called out like that is ridiculous. It’s depressing and sad.”
Wolves were a problem for ranchers when Kip Gates’ great-great-grandfather homesteaded in the area. He doesn’t want the problem to return.