Vail Town Council candidate Brian Sipes in his own words

Candidate wants to prioritize housing, sustainability and community

The Vail Daily is running questionnaires with the 10 candidates running for four open seats on the Vail Town Council. The questionnaires will run in the order that the candidates appear on the ballot, which town staff selected via a blind drawing on Sept. 5.

The Town Council election is a nonpartisan race and will be conducted as part of the Tuesday, Nov. 7, coordinated election in Eagle County. Voters within the town of Vail will be able to select up to four candidates. The three candidates that receive the highest number of votes will serve four-year terms, and the candidate that receives the fourth-most votes will serve a two-year term.

Ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 16.   For more information on the Eagle County Coordinated Election — including how and where to vote — visit EagleCounty/US/CoordinatedElection.

Brian Sipes is one of 10 candidates running for Vail Town Council in the November 2023 election.
Courtesy Photo

Name: Brian Sipes
Occupation: Architect
Neighborhood you live in: East Vail
Length of residence in Eagle County and Vail: 30 years in Eagle County (this March) and three years in Vail

Have you served on any other boards/commissions/councils in Eagle County or otherwise? Tell us about your volunteer experiences, involvement and service to the community that you live. How will these experiences enable you to bring value to the board?
I served on the Avon Planning Commission, the Avon Town Council (two terms and was Mayor Pro-Tem during my second term), the Water Authority and the Water District boards. I am currently an advisory board member of Walking Mountains and serve on the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Government Affairs Committee.

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Being involved in community service is a mindset that requires an understanding of the mechanics of how decisions are made, an understanding of the issues, the ability to listen and the ability to work as a team to bring forth ideas and share goals to reach solutions.    

Why did you decide to run for Town Council?
Mountain communities have long witnessed a significant influx of wealthy people, markedly skewing our economic landscape. Local wages simply cannot compete with this outside wealth. The land use bill introduced in the 2023 legislative session would have made this problem so much worse. Finding a different solution is my primary motivation for seeking this office.

What are the top three things you’d seek to accomplish during your term if elected?

  • Housing: I hope to change the narrative and be more holistic in delivering a wide range of housing types (both rental and for sale). I want to think about how people can stay a part of our community when their life situations change. 
  • Sustainability: Vail has done a lot with the Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan. However, climate change is a worldwide issue. I believe Vail should actively lobby at the state and perhaps the national level and leverage our brand to cause policy that will protect our climate and environment and snowpack.
  • Community: For more years than I can remember we’ve been discussing the Civic Area Plan as a “village” for locals. It is time to stop finding reasons to not move forward on that plan and find ways to get it done. We are Vail; We can do anything we set our mind to.  

The town currently has more projects in the pipeline (bringing housing to West Middle Creek, Dowd Junction and other sites to revamping its municipal building and civic area, relocating the Children’s Garden of Learning, and other redevelopments) than revenue to pay for these projects.

What do you feel should be the town’s top three priorities and why?
The civic center is an important and more than a symbolic gesture that the community is equally important as the resort. The municipal building relocation is a critical part of the civic plan so although that is a separate project, I think it is part of the same solution.

Skier parking is also a perennial issue that is past time to resolve, and one where we can work together with Vail Resorts to enhance the visitor and local experience.

What additional sources of revenue do you think the town should consider and why?
A new lift ticket tax is a good idea, but I think we should dedicate the revenue to solving the parking issue. There is a better nexus between lift tickets and parking. 

The town has been in the midst of the condemnation proceedings with Vail Resorts over Booth Heights as Election Day approaches. How do you feel the town should move forward in repairing the relationship now that the town council voted to acquire the site?
We need to move past the zero-sum discussion — that we could have either housing or open space — we’ve been having. That thinking has divided us and doesn’t seem to be supported by the facts. The town and Vail Resorts need each other, we share a name, and we need to work together to preserve our position as a premier mountain resort and community.

Outside of affordable housing, what other workforce issues do you think the town needs to address and how do you propose it does so?
We need to work hard to regain our position as the number one ski resort. I remember when I first moved here, we all cheered when we were No. 1 in the ski magazine polls and were devastated when we dropped to No. 2 or 3. Being No. 1 touches on every aspect of our role as a resort and as a community and every decision I make on the council will to work toward regaining our leadership position.

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