Water election draws record voters
VAIL ” Waiting for election results is like sitting around waiting for your first date, said Debbie Buckley. But the date finally arrived, and it was a winner.
The Avon councilwoman was elected the newest member of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation board of directors, along with Ludwig Kurz, Darell Wegert, Rick Pylman and Chuck Ogilby, who ran unopposed.
While these are only preliminary numbers, the 14 provisional ballots yet to be counted won’t change any of the results, said Leslie Isom, who coordinated the election for the water and sanitation district.
With a record number of candidates “11 ” more voters than ever before turned up to cast their votes. Including 287 absentee ballots, 895 of the 14,289 eligible voters elected the five new directors who will join David Viele and Bob Warner on the board.
At the top of the new candidates wish list is fairness and cooperation, Wegert said.
“We needed to get rid of politics, and I think we did that today with this new board,” Wegert said. “It’ll be a nice fresh start.”
As a longtime Minturn resident and past Minturn councilman, Wegert weathered rumors that he was running for the water and sanitation district to be vindictive.
“That was never, never on my mind,” he said.
Minturn and the district have had a less than perfect relationship in the past, which may be further strained now that both are looking to build a sewer plant in the Dowd Junction area between Vail and Minturn. But Wegert and Buckley only see the positive possibilities, they said.
“I think it’s time that we buried that hatchet and work at it together,” Buckley said. “I think a joint venture could benefit all of us, and save all the taxpayers money.”
The new directors are also all interested in exploring the possibility of at least one new reservoir, though Wegert would like to see several. A reservoir would be one step toward protecting local water rights, a top priority, said Pylman.
“My position will be to ensure that the district continues to provide water and wastewater in an efficient manner, but also to make sure we protect our water from Denver and the Front Range,” he said.
An avid fisherman in a family who loves to spend time on the river, Pylman also wants to ensure enough water for recreational purposes, as does Kurz, whose livelihood hinges on the Vail Valley’s recreational opportunities.
Like Pylman, Kurz believes water needs to be kept on this side of the Continental Divide to ensure the valley’s viability.
“There needs to be a balance so that we don’t, 20 years down the road, find that we’ve sold ourselves too cheap,” Kurz said.
Although everyone getting along is ideal, water has always been an issue that people fought over vigorously, and the new directors accept their new positions may not be easy.
“We can’t have a water war, because that won’t work ” maybe a battle,” Plyman said. “But ultimately, there needs to be negotiation that will come to some conclusion that will benefit us.”
Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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