Vail Town Manager candidates meet the public |

Vail Town Manager candidates meet the public


The candidates

Michael Kovacs

Jay Harrington

David Buckingham

Learn more about all three Vail Town Manager candidates at

VAIL — Community members got a chance to interview the man who will become Vail’s new town manager on Tuesday in a meet-and-greet session. However, who the next manager is will require some more deliberation.

Town Judge Buck Allen started his conversations with the candidates with an obvious question: “Do you ski?”

All three candidates do.

A group of 30 or so residents turned out to enjoy casual conversations with the candidates over snacks and soft drinks throughout the two-hour event at Donovan Pavilion.

“Part of it is getting back to the mountain town lifestyle … part of it is economics, to be able to put kids in college and things like that, and then trying to work for a really good city council.”Michael KovacsVail town manager candidate

“I like this format,” candidate Michael Kovacs said. “Good camaraderie.”

There was a fair turnout of town of employees, who often stand to be the most affected by a change in the town manager position. For some of those employees, it would be the only chance to question the candidates before one of them is hired.

The town is hiring a new manager — the town’s top administrator — after the recent departure of Stan Zemler. Zemler was the longest-serving town manager in Vail’s 51-year history, staying 13 years in the job.


Environmental Manager Kristen Bertuglia asked candidates about sustainability issues. Vail Public Library Director Lori Barnes asked about the importance of public libraries in this day and age. Kathleen Halloran of the finance department asked about budgeting.

A frequent question from community members was, “Why (come to) Vail?”

Candidate Jay Harrington, who is currently the town manager in Carbondale, said location was the first reason he wants to come to Vail.

“To get back into the resort from the support community,” he said.

Candidate David Buckingham said he, his wife and their five children are a mountain family.

“We are intending to relocate to the mountains as soon as we can,” he said.

Kovacs, conscientious of who is doing the hiring — the Vail Town Council — said first he wants to go to work for a good elected body.

“Part of it is getting back to the mountain town lifestyle … part of it is economics, to be able to put kids in college and things like that, and then trying to work for a really good city council,” Kovacs said.


Longtime resident Summer Holm walked to the meeting from her residence on West Gore Creek Drive. She said she had to bring a powerful flashlight for the walk home because the streets lights aren’t sufficient in places.

“I plan on mentioning that to the candidates” she said as the meeting was starting.

Vail native Bob Ruder, who has watched the town evolve since the 1960s, said whomever the council picks, the town of Vail will be in good shape.

“I thought they were all good choices,” Ruder said.

Attendees were asked to fill out comment cards about the candidates, which the council then examined.

In addition to Wednesday’s community meeting, the candidates are also undergoing a series of interviews with the Vail Town Council, as well as representatives of the community and town staff.

The council has a three-hour executive session — closed to the public — scheduled to start at 9 a.m. this morning, for the purposes of conducting town manager interviews. The council also met in closed session Wednesday afternoon.

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