Vail Town Council candidate Jonathan Staufer in his own words
Incumbent wants to protect and improve upon Vail’s original vision
The Vail Daily is running Q&A’s 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 were mailed out on Oct. 16. For more information on the Eagle County Coordinated Election — including how and where to vote —visit EagleCounty/US/CoordinatedElection.
Name: Jonathan Staufer
Occupation: Store owner, Grappa Fine Wines & Spirits
Neighborhood you live in: Intermountain
Length of residence in Eagle County and Vail: Lifelong
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 have been honored to serve on the Vail Town Council for the past two years.
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I’ve been a community and conservation activist my entire adult life. I’ve volunteered with Rocky Mountain Wild, Wilderness Workshop and the Headwaters Group of the Sierra Club. Locally, I was involved with the Vail Arts Council, co-founded Trees for Vail and co-founded the Vail Farmers’ Market, now Vail’s largest economic driver during the summer season.
My activism has brought me into contact with people from widely varied backgrounds. I have learned to seek and find commonalities with those people, commonalities that can be built on, something that has served me well in getting things accomplished on Town Council.
Why did you decide to run for Town Council?
There are great opportunities ahead for Vail and significant challenges. We have an amazing foundation due to the foresight of the people who created this place.
Part of what has enabled Vail’s success was looking beyond crises, remembering how we weathered previous problems, and trying to build a desired future. I grew up in a remarkable place, and I want to protect and improve that for my daughter and her generation.
What are the top three things you’d seek to accomplish during your term if elected?
As I have for the past two years, I will continue advocating for community, open space, wildlife and the environment, and supporting housing and facilities that build community.
We must recognize that there are limits; overcrowding doesn’t benefit anyone and our resources — particularly water — are finite, and becoming more so. We are a very climate-dependent destination. We need to discuss what that means and what to do about it.
While we have taken steps to save the native bighorn sheep herd in Vail, the town should also be leading the way in addressing the slaughter of deer, elk and other wildlife on Interstate 70 — as well as the danger this poses to the public — with better wildlife crossings including at Dowd Canyon.
Lastly, it’s past time to visit the Vail Comprehensive Plan and evaluate where we are and who and what we want to be in 30 years. We’ve been nibbling at the edges with the West Vail Master Plan and the Destination Stewardship Roadmap, which is important, but looking at the entire town would show which regulations are outmoded and which need to be strengthened.
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 concentration should always be toward making Vail a stronger community and a better place to live and visit. Planning is well underway for Dobson, a hugely important asset to locals and visitors. That is a major piece of the Civic Area plan, with the rest offering multiple opportunities for creativity and private investment.
Likewise, planning for West Middle Creek is well underway and likely in line to be the next major housing project after Timber Ridge, though there will hopefully be an opportunity to diversify housing opportunities with recent CDOT acquisitions in East Vail.
What additional sources of revenue do you think the town should consider and why?
The number of vacant storefronts, particularly in West Vail and Cascade Crossing, is a concern. These should be generating vitality for the community and sales tax revenue for the town. The reasons for these vacancies need to be examined and addressed.
In addition, the Town Council recently reviewed lift tax receipts. This revenue is not in line with the number of skiers and does not even come close to paying for the public transit system as was originally intended.
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?
The question is how is Vail Resorts going to work to repair the relationships with all the communities in which they operate, not only Vail.
Looking at Vail’s history would be a good lesson for the people in Broomfield. The community and mountain company didn’t always agree, but they managed to hammer out a consensus, and Vail was a better place for the effort. As we proved during last winter’s National Brotherhood of Skiers visit, Vail Resorts, the town and the community can do incredible things together. It has always taken all of us.
Outside of affordable housing, what other workforce issues do you think the town needs to address and how do you propose it does so?
These are the people who will not only work in Vail in the future but hopefully open businesses of their own and have families here. In addition to a variety of housing opportunities, we need to seed economic opportunities. It would do Vail’s future well to have a program to assist young would-be entrepreneurs getting started in Vail.