Bergey: Why I’m running for Vail Town Council
I decided to run for Vail Town Council to keep our town vibrant and sustainable. There are some very important decisions that need to be made in the near future.
Most importantly, how do we go about providing workforce housing? Where do we build workforce housing? Do we focus on small affordable units for workers without families? How many family-style units do we need and where do we build them?
Families are the cornerstone of a community, but most people don’t want to raise a family in an apartment-style condo building. Many of the homes and buildings in Vail are now reaching the end of their useful life and are becoming expensive to heat, maintain, do not have proper egress, and have many design deficiencies. Anything that is rebuilt will be built at today’s costs and therefore may be out of reach to local families.
This is where the town needs to be proactive and explore new and innovative approaches and opportunities to partner with the private sector. Now is the time to work with stakeholders in the West Vail commercial center to come up with viable solutions to start implementing our adopted West Vail Master Plan. I’m committed to not just employee housing, but more importantly to affordable housing for both longtime residents and seasonal employees.
It’s one thing to deed restrict properties. It’s another thing to make housing affordable. The town of Vail’s current deed restriction policy is a step in the right direction, but there may be areas that can be improved upon. We need new people to come up with new ideas and creative solutions to this critical situation.
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I want to focus on disaster and wildfire preparedness. The recent Interstate 70 closures due to wildfires and flooding are stark reminders of the very real importance of disaster and wildfire preparedness. Most of our homes were built with construction products not engineered to withstand an approaching fire.
Identifying fire-resistant building materials that are also eco-friendly and encouraging their use in building codes should be a cornerstone of the town of Vail’s building code. Vail’s Fire Chief has proposed a “Fire Free Five” campaign that is being implemented and it needs to be fully embraced.
We should listen to our local experts. Now with the passing of the new West Vail overlay district, there is an opportunity for new buildings to be built that will be more fire-resistant, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly. The last thing we want to see is what happened in Lahaina.
I would expand availability and outreach for mental health services. While Eagle County and Vail Health have greatly increased access to mental health services in the last three years, both suicide and dependence/addiction rates are still greater here than in Colorado as a state. When someone finally admits that they need help with addictions there can be a very short time between asking for help and it being too late to get help. Education regarding services available to address depression, alcohol and drug dependence, and addiction through print, radio and social media must become more focused.
Holding office is an act of service to the public that is service to all the residents of Vail, not just those who share your views or those who vote for you. As elected officials, we set the tone for civic life in our community.
The mark of leadership is the ability to handle differences in ways that move the agenda forward, build trust, and create a civic culture of mutual respect that makes progress possible. We face a broad array of challenges.
Developing goals and plans, and working together with my colleagues and constituents to enact the local policies and laws that will ultimately lead to accomplishment … that is my vision. We must rise above the fray and reach beyond our comfort zones and be capable of working closely with those with whom we do not always agree.
I can rise to that challenge. That is what makes Democracy work. It’s what makes shaping our shared values possible. And it’s what will ultimately make Vail a place of which we can all be proud. I’m asking for your support in this race and look forward to serving you as a Town Council member.