Vail Town Council Candidate: Susie Tjossem
From a variety of work experiences, I have cultivated leadership and organizational skills. I am not afraid to speak my mind and am known as a consensus builder.
My family and I love Vail and want it to retain the character that attracted us 34 years ago. As the executive director of the Colorado Ski Museum, I am running a small nonprofit business and share many challenges merchants in Vail and Lionshead face.
With so many longtime locals relocating down valley, Vail needs to have willing and able residents who are not afraid to step up and lead.
The 2007 community survey indicated affordable or employee housing was the highest concern to town residents; followed by a combined category of development, growth and construction. In order to attract and retain quality employees we need to address the hierarchy of their needs, housing being the most important.
Vail has the opportunity to dramatically increase seasonal employee housing with the redevelopment of Timber Ridge. Council needs to ensure the chosen developer maximizes the number of seasonal employee beds in this project.
Additionally, council must continue to find creative and innovative ways to mitigate the negative impacts of redevelopment.
I appreciate their work ensuring that more employees will have the advantage of living in Vail as dictated by the inclusionary zoning ordinance. Also the new streetscape in the Vail Village is well done, especially in that our restaurants and retail shops are more accessible.
You are constantly scrutinized while serving on council and making difficult decisions, but I am not sure this council has listened to the people who elected them, indicated by their drop in ratings of satisfaction on the 2007 community survey.
I support that Vail needs more parking spaces, more affordable housing and more hot beds (hotel rooms), but I’m concerned about the timing of this proposal. This project cannot move forward until Ever Vail and its parking structure are approved.
Have we considered enough that once Ever Vail is built the town’s needs may have changed? The town could be wasting the Lionshead parking structure’s developer’s time and money making him jump through hoops at this stage in the game.
We don’t have a choice, redevelopment is in the works. To stay competitive and attract guests who will spend top-dollar on lodging, retail and dining, the town’s businesses and amenities need to be continually upgraded. The town’s job is to mitigate the negative impacts major construction projects may cause.
We need to work hard to bring business and events to town so the merchants can be successful. The town requires each redevelopment to include community benefits that both residents and guests can use and enjoy. Council needs to stay on top of extracting public benefits with each new development proposal.
Vail needs affordable employee housing so that it does not become a ghost town, and so that our businesses become the employers of choice. Employees living in town add energy.
Whistler is a very good example; their village is vibrant even during off season because so many employees live “on campus.” With jobs so plentiful, employees are able to choose jobs that are convenient and close to home.
It’s not necessarily the town’s responsibility to buy or build employee housing but it can give incentives to businesses, homeowners and developers to encourage more is made available through remodels or buy-downs.
Wind power, solar power, recycling and green building initiatives are starting to take hold. The fact that people have really started paying attention to the negative effects of global warming is encouraging.
Right now at the Ski Museum I am working with a company called ChicoBag. They make reusable nylon grocery bags. Our goal with this fundraising effort is to eliminate the use of plastic and paper bags at the grocery store.
I hope to encourage more grassroots ideas like this while on council, as well as examine how bigger development projects can incorporate green building aspects.
Because this tax will be decided by the voters at the same time they elect five council members, I encourage everyone to do their homework, learn the facts and vote.
The new council’s job will be to ensure they are fiscally responsible with the new found money if it passes and to investigate alternate funding sources if it doesn’t.
No matter the outcome, we will all need to work together, make compromises and conciliations to ensure the town’s infrastructure and recreational amenities are well maintained.
Q: Are you crazy?
A: This is the first question I hear from people. Representing the residents of the country’s premier resort community is a serious undertaking. Good listening skills, which I have, are a prerequisite for the job because community input is essential.
Council has to work for those who have chosen to live here. We won’t always agree and not everyone will like every decision but I hope to help build consensus and move forward.
Bottom line, I am a hard working mom and businesswoman who is passionate about Vail and who has decided to carve out time to represent you.