Vail Daily editorial: Best choices for Eagle |

Vail Daily editorial: Best choices for Eagle

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

As you’re no doubt aware, the Eagle Town Board over the past year and change has sailed stormy seas, due mostly to, well … it’s hard to say, really. The fact, though, is that the current board has almost tried to take a torch to the public’s trust.

Let’s start with the state ethics investigation of a developer-paid trip to Florida by two board members. Both those members violated state law and were forced to repay the cost of the trip. But the cost to their, and the board’s, credibility will be harder to repay.

The board also cost itself much public trust with the ham-handed way it mishandled the suspension, then demanded-resignation of, former Town Manager Jon Stavney. Really, wouldn’t it have been easier to wait a few months until the board’s bi-annual reappointment of town officials?

Following hot on the heels of that great moment in foot-shooting came the board’s ill-considered rush to replace Stavney. It looks like the next board will actually offer a contract to one of the current candidates, which would be the ideal path out of this mess, but not for lack of effort on the part of the current group. We’ll give the current board credit for starting the hiring process and being just wise enough to hire Chris Moffet as an able consultant. She and fellow consultant Angelo Fernandez have done a terrific job, no question.

While the field of candidates for the April 5 election thinned once the most troublesome board members declined to run, there are still some choices to be made.

Mayor-in-waiting Anne McKibbin will be a major upgrade from incumbent Yuri Kostick, who declined to seek another term in the seat. While McKibbin’s defense of the current board’s speed-dating style of town manager search is baffling, she’ll bring a steady hand on the gavel. Eagle’s mayor is more of a first among equals position, so she’ll be fine in the job.

It’s also relatively easy to pick four of the five remaining candidates.

Kevin Brubeck, the only incumbent running, stumbled with the rest of the board in its unanimous decision to suspend Stavney. But Brubeck voted against accepting Stavney’s resignation. It’s clear he wished the affair had been handled better.

Those who know Brubeck know he’s thoughtful and careful with his words and actions. He’s been a fixture in the community for decades and truly has the town’s best interests in mind — something that’s true of all these candidates.

We’d expect Mikel “Pappy” Kerst to be more vocal in his opinions. He’s not shy about sharing his views about the failures of the current board. We expect him to be a strong voice in issues ranging from the river park to pending future developments. His experience in town and on the board will be welcome.

Paul Witt, another former board member, has applied twice to fill vacancies on the board and finished just out of the running for an elected seat two years ago. We’re confident Witt would have shown more leadership to avoid the nonsense with Stavney had he been on the board the past two years.

Witt has kept himself informed about the issues facing the town and, like the other candidates we’re endorsing here, will bring solid knowledge about what residents should expect from developers, as well as the nuts-and-bolts details of the town’s infrastructure.

The town in the next few years will build a new water treatment near the confluence of Brush Creek and the Eagle River. It is also involved with the town of Gypsum in discussions about the best way to take control of U.S. Highway 6 from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Neither issue is sexy, but both are crucially important to the town’s future.

That brings us to the two true newcomers among the candidates, Max Schmidt and Matt Solomon.

Solomon impressed our editorial board with his grasp of both controversial and mundane issues. As the owner of a retail shop in town, Solomon is no fan of the proposed sales tax increase. But he seems to have a solid focus on the future, and is willing to accept the will of voters moving forward, and is willing to make the park a reality, no matter the fate of the sales tax proposal.

He’ll make a good trustee.

Schmidt was appointed to the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission in December and is still learning the finer points of the complexities of the town’s processes.

Schmidt speaks for those in town who believe that Eagle is unwise to seek more tourist dollars and worries that longtime residents won’t like what they see as the town moves toward a more recreation-based economy.

There’s always a constituency for “enough is enough,” and that’s fine, but, in our view Schmidt needs a little more time in town hall before he can express to voters what “enough” really is.

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