Vail Town Council candidate profile: Brian Stockmar prefers to listen before taking action
- Barry Davis
- Kevin Foley (incumbent)
- Kim Langmaid (incumbent)
- Jen Mason (incumbent)
- Karen Perez
- Pete Seibert
- Brian Stockmar
VAIL — Brian Stockmar believes in careful listening before making a decision. Then, you’re going to know just what he thinks.
Stockmar, currently the chairman of the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission, is seeking a seat on the Vail Town Council this fall. It’s his first attempt at elective office.
Stockmar is a fairly recent full-time resident, but his Vail ties run deep. He bought his first Vail home, half of a duplex, in the early 1980s.
He eventually acquired the other side of the property and built a new home on the site.
Growing up in Denver, Stockmar’s family knew several of the initial investors in Vail Mountain. His family first came to the fledgling ski resort in early 1963.
Skiing with the family led Stockmar to look for seasonal work in town. While he was in law school, he noticed an advertisement for Vail’s ski school. He applied, got certified and went to work. That first season made him a few days late to law school. His smile telling the story indicates it was a good trade-off.
While Stockmar was first trained as an attorney, his subsequent education focused on economics. He built a 30-year career as a consulting economist — mostly for overseas companies.
He’s fully retired now, but his experience studying economics has Stockmar wary that the U.S. and rest of the world could be easing into a recession. With that in mind, Stockmar believes the town should keep its reserve accounts ready for possible emergencies in the next few years.
“We may or may not suffer dramatically” from a downturn, Stockmar said. “But that reserve could be one of the most valuable things we have.”
Stockmar said he watches almost every Vail Town Council meeting, either live via internet streaming or later on High Five Access Media.
“It’s important to the community to have that access,” he said.
That homework of watching the council has been yet another education, this time in the mechanics of Vail’s civic life.
His time watching the council and on the Planning and Environmental Commission has led to a couple of conclusions:
First, he said, the town needs a code of ethics more strict than what’s laid out in state law. There’s been controversy on the planning board that member John-Ryan Lockman, an employee of Vail Resorts, voted on the Booth Heights housing proposal.
A more-strict ethics code “doesn’t mean someone can be taken off the board,” Stockmar said. “But it puts the possibility of a conflict clearly in the (town) code. … It’s vitally important.”
And, he added, he has no business or personal conflicts that could hinder his decision-making.
Stockmar said a couple of “vitally important” issues prompted his application to the planning board: the environment and employee housing.
“I wanted to put the ‘E’ back in ‘PEC,’ he said of his interest in serving.
Much of Stockmar’s stated opposition to Booth Heights is based on environmental concerns.
On the housing front, Stockmar isn’t sure that the town taking on so much of the initiative is a good thing.
“Should the town be paying for everybody’s housing? I don’t think so, but we need housing,” he said.
If elected, Stockmar said he intends for his service to reflect his time on the planning board.
“I hope it’s evident that I listen,” he said. “I’ll speak at length, but mostly I’ll listen. … I want to know what people are thinking.”
Stockmar said there’s a wealth of information on virtually any subject the council discusses. It’s important to take in as much as possible.
People on the council also need to be attuned to the interests of both residents and the town’s business community.
That usually works.
“I’ve seen very few strident battles here,” he said. “People are generally fair to each other.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.