Our View: For Vail council: Bruno, Chapin, Moffet, Tjossem
A “controversy” in Vail often looks a little different than it does elsewhere. This fall, the seven candidates running for four seats on the Vail Town Council have been asked an inordinate number of questions about the “controversy” surrounding plans for the clubhouse and 18th hole at the Vail Golf Club.
We expect that most voters will take this “controversy” for what it is — much ado about very little, a tempest not in a teapot, but a teaspoon. After all, Vail is enjoying record sales tax collections, is debt-free and has millions in the bank. In addition, the 2011 ballot question to free up funds to rebuild the clubhouse passed overwhelmingly — with roughly 87 percent of the vote. Opposition to plans for the clubhouse and changes to the suddenly “iconic” 18th hole at the golf course didn’t crop up in earnest until a relative handful of people started complaining last year.
We believe the council didn’t do a good job presenting plans for the project in the beginning, but we also think the current plan is a good one, and, if it passes its final court challenge, should be pursued as quickly as possible.
With that as prelude, we believe the best people running for council this year are incumbents Greg Moffet and Susie Tjossem, and newcomers Jenn Bruno and Dave Chapin. Interestingly, all these candidates believe the council must do a better job of not just talking to, but listening to, the town’s residents, homeowners and business community.
We’ll start with Bruno, who frankly is one of the most impressive first-time candidates we’ve met in a while. Bruno has put in her time on the town’s Commission on Special Events, a group that in the past couple of years has put a new and, we believe, more effective spin on event funding in town. Experience on the events board has also given Bruno a good bit of insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of the town government.
We’re also impressed that Bruno and her husband, Luca, have decided to stay in Vail to raise their two children. That means Bruno is involved in both the day-to-day business of Vail Village as well as the workings of Red Sandstone Elementary School and the community life of parents and kids in town.
Bruno is sharp, well-spoken and, importantly, on the sunny side of 50 years old. Vail’s civic life needs Bruno and others like her if the town is to thrive in years to come.
The other newcomer we’re endorsing, Dave Chapin, is on the “more Advil, please” side of 50, but, like Bruno, promises to be an energetic new voice on the council. Chapin has also put in his time on various town boards and commissions, including the special events board. Like Bruno, he sees life in Vail Village up close and personal every day at Vendetta’s, the restaurant in which he’s a partner.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate advocate for a customer-focused town government than Chapin. We’re also impressed by his commitment to listening before acting, as well as his enthusiasm for what Vail is — a place people come to have fun, and a place people quickly come to love, no matter where they’re from.
Greg Moffet is also a passionate advocate for Vail, and is probably the best-qualified incumbent we’ve seen in some time. Moffet adores his adopted home, but his service on the Eagle County Planning Commission is also a solid testament to his belief that Vail is best served when its representatives work closely with residents on the other side of Dowd Junction.
Moffet has vowed to move to the front burner plans for improving Red Sandstone Elementary School and, perhaps, changing the school’s mission so it might attract more families to town. He has also promised that, if possible, he’ll move plans for new housing in the Chamonix neighborhood to the top of the town’s to-do list. Both those projects need to be pursued, no matter who is on the next council.
Susie Tjossem was uncertain about running for a second term due to family commitments. But we’re confident that if she believes she can do the job, she will.
Tjossem, like all the candidates, loves Vail, and has long experience, and demonstrated success, in jobs from the ski school to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum. That time as the curator of the state’s ski heritage has given her valuable insight into the spirit it took to create a new industry from, basically, nothing. That insight helps when planning the town’s future.
This is actually Tjossem’s third campaign for a seat on the council. Her first, unsuccessful, run was followed by a term on the town’s planning commission, which gave her the knowledge of the town’s processes needed to be an effective member of the council. It’s knowledge that’s served her, and the town, well.
We’d recommend that path for newcomer Sounia Nejad Chaney. Her enthusiasm for Vail is infectious, but we believe she needs a bit more understanding of the town’s inner workings to be an effective advocate for residents. Candidate Meighen Lovelace would also be well served to pursue the path of service on town boards before making the jump to Town Council.
That leaves Dale Bugby, one of the most persistent critics of the council’s path on the golf course. This was our closest endorsement call. We like Bugby, and appreciate his passion for, and knowledge about, Vail. We believe he’d soon become an effective council member if elected, but the four candidates we’ve endorsed are the best people to help pilot the town during the next four years.