Vail Town Council candidate Samantha Biszantz in her own words
Candidate hopes to bring passion for local government and entrepreneurial mindset to council
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 will be 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: Samantha Biszantz
Occupation: Co-owner at Two Arrows and Root & Flower
Neighborhood you live in: Intermountain
Length of residence in Eagle County and Vail: 14 years
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?
There is no better preparation for municipal leadership than prior service in a municipal leadership position. Serving 6 years on Vail’s Commission on Special Events taught me how the town works, how to read a packet and evaluate criteria, and most importantly about the budgeting process. Additionally, I have volunteered at highway cleanups, the BB&B golf tournament, and the EVCF community market. I have created an entrepreneurship series with Mountain Careers, but most near and dear to my heart is creating @vailmentalwellness, a resource group I started last year to connect our service industry population with mental wellness resources.
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Why did you decide to run for Town Council?
I am passionate about local government. I love it, I pay attention and I participate – so I am up to speed on town business and ready to hit the ground running.
As a small business owner, I’ve created ownership opportunities, promotions, pay raises, culture, travel experiences, safety and support — to help make Vail attainable for my employees. I would like to lend this expertise to the community at large.
Additionally, I have proved you can foster and balance fiscal responsibility, success, visionary courage and cohesion — a mindset our town needs right now.
What are the top three things you’d seek to accomplish during your term if elected?
My top priority is to create a Vail that is livable, vibrant and sustainable.
Livable includes working on the West Vail Master Plan and short-term rental regulations. Vibrant includes Civic Area plan work, business protection, events as well as housing goals. Sustainability includes looking at social, economic and environmental needs.
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? What additional sources of revenue do you think the town should consider and why?
With a final number on Booth Heights, we need to rebuild Vail’s reserves and create additional revenue streams. I would propose re-examining the lift tax, Real Estate Transfer Tax and Construction Use Tax.
My other two project priorities would be Civic Area/Dobson because the TIF money expires in 2030 and the new council will need to use it.
Lastly, through a combination of responsible redevelopment incentives, smart planning for the commercial center, and regional transportation partnerships, working on the West Vail Master Plan could be the best thing we do as a community for our future community.
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?
I’ve already had conversations with Vail Resorts’ corporate and local employees, and I see the light. We need to understand its motivations and set our expectations based on that for our town’s mental and economic health. We are in the business of progress, not punishment.
Outside of affordable housing, what other workforce issues do you think the town needs to address and how do you propose it does so?
- Childcare: Children’s Garden is a fantastic facility, and I would love to expand it to include day care for kids under 5. Ideally, we would also be able to subsidize the price of care and provide teachers and staff with attainable housing options and quality salaries.
- Parking and transit: At a recent council meeting, it was noted that the parking structures need an update within 15 years. In this timeframe, I think the town should aim to end Frontage Road usage and increase capacity in the structures. I am eager to see what the EVTA brings. We need to think creatively about how to get Vail residents out of the parking garages in peak times, also understanding that driving also needs to remain a viable and reasonably priced option for many residents.