Vail Town Council candidate profile: Karen Perez needs to be involved in community
- Barry Davis
- Kevin Foley (incumbent)
- Kim Langmaid (incumbent)
- Jen Mason (incumbent)
- Karen Perez
- Pete Seibert
- Brian Stockmar
VAIL — Wherever she is, Karen Perez needs to be involved in her community. She hopes to continue that practice in Vail.
Perez grew up in Denver but moved to Vail about four years ago. It didn’t take long for her to get involved, first in her condo building’s homeowner association, then with an appointment to the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
Perez has skied at Vail for much of her life and decided several years ago she needed to move there. Her job — she’s local counsel for a couple of national firms — allows her to work just about anywhere with good internet service.
Most of Perez’s family lives in the Denver area, and she said she’d tried to move to Vail a couple of times over the past several years. But a family member’s health problems kept her in the city before her mother finally said, “You’re going to move to Vail.”
After settling into town, Perez started her community involvement.
“If I live in a community, I have to get involved,” she said. Besides, she added with a laugh, if she’s working from home and not involved, “I could go for days without seeing people.”
Her community involvement in Denver included six-year stints on both the Denver Planning Board and the Lowry Redevelopment Authority. Both were mayoral appointments.
“You have to meet people, so you get involved,” Perez said.
Perez’s time on the planning board has included hearings on the controversial Booth Heights workforce housing proposal. Perez was in the 4-3 majority that approved the proposal. That approval has been appealed to the Vail Town Council.
“Our role on the (planning board) is not to advocate, but to listen, read the reports and rule on the criteria,” she said. “Some of us had one perspective, and some of us had another.”
Perez said her run from council springs directly from her time on the planning board.
“I found myself more and more sending messages to the council — consider this change, or consider modifying this policy,” she said. Being on council, she added, is “an opportunity to stop sending messages and act.”
Perez’s ideas of action mirror just about the entire field in this year’s election, with housing, transportation and parking at the top of the council’s to-do list.
Perez said the town needs to be “intentional” about housing.
There’s room to build on the west half of the Timber Ridge property, she said. But “we only have so much real estate,” she added.
While some in town are advocating for a dedicated tax for the town’s housing fund, Perez isn’t so sure.
“There’s a way to get funding sources without raising taxes,” she said.
Perez said she thinks it’s time for the town to launch another community outreach effort similar to the “Vail Tomorrow” effort several years ago. Planning for that effort is in the 2020 budget.
The current divisiveness in town has to be solved by residents, she said.
“We need to treat people with respect,” she said. “At the end of the day we’re on the same team.”
Beyond the big items, Perez said she’d like Vail to look at more ways it can distinguish itself from other towns working with Vail Resorts.
It may be time again to look at why Vail doesn’t have a community recreation center, she said.
Ultimately, though, Perez said Vail’s priority list will be set by its residents. And, she said, she intends to listen.
“This isn’t about me,” she said. “It’s about what the community wants.”
Eagle County Schools added six mental health counselors and the district will add two more school resource officers, according to the school district’s 2019-2020 budget book. The district also aised starting pay and gave staffers a 2.3% cost-of-living raise.