Vail Town Council candidate Dave Chapin dedicated to guest experience, town’s ‘brand’
Dave Chapin is one of 10 candidates — including three incumbents — running for Vail Town Council. The polling-place election is Nov. 7. The other candidates are:
• Travis Coggin
• Rodney Johnson
• Brian Rodine
Editor’s note: There are 10 candidates this year for four seats on the Vail Town Council. For the next five weekdays, the Vail Daily is publishing a profile of each candidate. Profiles are being published in no particular order, and previously published profiles can be found at http://www.vail daily.com.
VAIL — Dave Chapin didn’t expect to be Vail’s mayor. Now that he is, he’d like to keep the job for a while.
Chapin was first elected to the Vail Town Council in 2013. When term limits ended former Mayor Andy Daly’s tenure in 2015, council members had to pick someone new for the first-among-equals position. Council members choose a mayor every two years, after the municipal election. In 2015, the council chose Chapin.
“It’s a very humbling position,” he said. But the job has also been an honor, he added.
Being the town’s mayor is a little different from the other six council positions. There are more demands on the mayor’s time, from dedications to being a representative of the town in various state and regional groups.
“And, when people want somebody to talk to, they go to the mayor,” Chapin said.
Chapin is part of the ownership group at Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village. A lot of locals stop by for a little mayor time with “Bone,” Chapin’s longtime nickname.
Chapin said he believes in an open-door policy, no matter where he is, but there are times a chat with a resident has to take a back seat to running a busy restaurant.
“The citizenry has been very respectful of my time,” Chapin said. “People may have something to talk about, and I may not be able to do it right then, but we’ll bring it up at a meeting, or personally, later on.”
A ski bum at heart
Despite the demands of his public and professional lives, Chapin still views himself as a ski bum at heart. That’s what brought him to Vail.
A native of upstate New York, Chapin came to Vail in the early 1980s. He’d studied hospitality and tourism management in college, and when an opportunity arose to come to Vail for a winter, he took it. He’s been here ever since.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I count my blessings every day. I try to every day go outside and say, ‘This is where I live.’”
Chapin’s experience on the front lines of Vail’s resort business has given him a focus on the council: keeping the guest experience, customer service and Vail’s brand awareness at high levels.
But maintaining the town’s brand requires great guest experiences, and those experiences depend on maintaining a great workforce.
The Lion’s Ridge apartments and the under-construction Chamonix townhome project have been successful in attracting 12-month residents, Chapin said. Other projects, from new pickleball courts to improvements at the town’s parks, also contribute.
The two-year project to build an underpass to link the town’s North and South frontage roads, now in its final weeks, is another way to help Vail’s guests and locals, he said.
A planned 160-space parking garage at Red Sandstone Elementary School will also benefit both locals and guests, he said.
Working with others
The guest experience also requires a solid relationship with Vail Resorts, Chapin said.
“The guest doesn’t see the separation (between the town and resort company),” Chapin said, adding that it’s been a good thing to have a resort company representative at virtually every evening council meeting for the past couple of years.
“We need to be cooperative partners, but holding each other accountable, and not run roughshod over one another,” he said. “That affects the guest experience.”
In addition to parking and housing, the valley’s transit systems are also important for locals and guests. Chapin said he’d like to see better cooperation from Eagle County’s ECO Transit bus system to beef up service into the town of Vail.
“If we can get the right people in the room, we can come up with equitable solutions,” Chapin said. “But we have to get a little bit better shake (from ECO).”
Looking Back on A Legacy
If re-elected to a four-year term, then Chapin would hit the eight-year limit on consecutive council terms. If that happens, Chapin said he’d like to look back on some significant town accomplishments.
“I’d like to see that we strengthened housing and the environment — those would be two things I’d be most proud of,” Chapin said.
But this council also hired the first new town manager in 13 years with the selection of Greg Clifton to succeed longtime manager Stan Zemler.
“That’s arguably the most important decision we made,” Chapin said.
With hard decisions made and hard decisions looming, Chapin said people on all sides of contentious issues have one thing in common.
“Everybody has high respect for Vail — that makes me proud,” Chapin said. “And at the end of the day, we’re still going to be friends.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.