Vail Town Council candidate forum a chance to speak to town’s residents
Candidates talked about their backgrounds, ideas for housing, ice arena and other topics
The candidates are, in alphabetical order:
Kevin Foley (incumbent)
Kim Langmaid (incumbent)
Jen Mason (incumbent)
Voters on Nov. 5 will elect four candidates to the Vail Town Council.
VAIL — This year’s group of candidates for seats on the Vail Town Council Wednesday faced the public as a group.
In a forum sponsored by the Vail Board of Realtors and the Vail Chamber & Business Association, the candidates — seven people, including three incumbents, are running for four seats — answered questions from both the organizers and the public.
Candidates were asked about their backgrounds, maintaining a middle class in town and other topics.
The candidates are a diverse bunch.
Pete Seibert Jr. is a Realtor, and the son of the Vail ski area’s founder. Seibert said he believes “It’s my time to give back,” after a lifetime in the community.
Incumbent Jen Mason is the director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum, and spent many years with the Vail Valley Foundation running the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.
Karen Perez is an attorney and a member of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
Brian Stockmar is retired after a career as a consulting economist. He’s the chairman of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
Incumbent Kevin Foley is a 40-year resident, and has spent most of that time in the lodging and restaurant businesses.
Barry Davis is the co-owner of Yellowbelly Chicken and has started several businesses. He’s a member of the Vail Commission on Special Events.
Incumbent Kim Langmaid is the founder of Walking Mountains Science Center.
That experience gives the candidates different perspectives on various topics.
Answering a question about the need for a multi-purpose events center in town, six of the candidates offered support in various ways for a facility that could accommodate groups of between 800 and 1,200 people.
Stockmar said he’s “a bit of a naysayer” about the need for such a facility. Stockmar noted there’s vigorous competition for group business, adding that an events facility could compete with existing facilities at Vail’s hotels.
Stockmar instead said the town’s focus should be on Dobson Ice Arena, which is aging and in need of work.
The candidates had different ideas about how, or whether, to more tightly regulate short-term rentals in town.
Langmaid said it’s time for the town to impose more regulations on that business, noting that it’s “changed the dynamics of my neighborhood” in Intermountain.
Mason said the town needs to look at “communities that have been successful” in regulating the industry.
Seibert questioned whether tighter regulations might constitute a form of governmental “taking” from property owners.
Perez, who served on Denver’s planning commission, said it’s possible to find a “balance” between property rights and neighborhood character.
Stockmark said regulations that have been “properly and carefully developed” could avoid the problem of governmental taking.
Foley said short-term rentals are “turning residential neighborhoods into commercial neighborhoods,” and favored tigher regulations.
Davis said he and his family use short-term rentals when they travel.
“People who use (short term rentals) in Vail want a local flavor,” and said the town could be a leader in putting together regulations that benefit both travelers and residents.
How are they in public?
The forum was held in front of a fairly light crowd at Donovan Pavilion. Those who came said they were eager to see how the candidates reacted to questions in front of an audience.
For former council member Dick Cleveland, attending candidate events is a longtime habit.
“I like to hear (candidates) speaking in public, and thinking on their feet,” resident Pete Thompson said.
Diana Mathias said she came for an in-person opportunity to listen to the candidates had to say.
While the Booth Heights housing proposal has drawn most of the attention in town recently — although there was little discussion of it at the forum — Mathias said there are a lot of other issues facing the town and its leaders.
“We have new buildings, parking, safety,” Mathias said. She also took an optimistic view of all the candidates
“Everybody here has good intentions,” she said.
This town’s most controversial issue in years may be resolved Tuesday.