Vail Daily letter: Time to go, Avon councilmen
Chris Evans and Todd Goulding are the Doublemint twins of bad government, and they need to resign. They were both elected to the Avon Town Council in November 2010, and shortly after their election, Todd Goulding joined Chris Evans at Evans Chaffee Construction.
They generally vote in lockstep to approve development projects (such as Walgreens and Wyndham Vacation Resorts) that hire Evans Chaffee, in some capacity, shortly after receiving the green light.
In 2012, they both conspired with two other Avon Town Council members to fire the Avon town manager without discussing it through the appropriate channels. The costs for this inappropriate action are still mounting.
They both bought “investment properties” outside of Avon in the past year, while retaining property in Avon. They have both moved their families out of Avon into their “investment properties.” However, they both refused to resign their Avon Town Council seats by pushing loopholes in the residency code to an unprecedented extreme.
In my opinion, they both have repeatedly violated the Avon code of ethics for almost three years.
The code of ethics says, “The proper operation of democratic government requires that public officers be independent, impartial and responsible to the people; that government decisions and policy be made within the proper channels of the governmental structure; that public office not be used for personal gain; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government.”
Are councilmen Evans and Goulding smart businessmen who take care of their families? Yes, they are. Are they independent, impartial and responsible to the people? Not in my opinion. Have Evans and Goulding used their public office for personal gain? In my opinion, they most certainly have. Has the public lost confidence in the integrity of Avon’s government? This member of the public has. For the reasons listed below, I call for councilmen Evans and Goulding to resign immediately.
Let’s start with independent and impartial. Although they didn’t disclose any potential business relationship while campaigning, after they were sworn in, they disclosed a relationship to the council, but initially portrayed it as an office sharing and collaboration arrangement, in which Todd Goulding still had his own company.
In January 2011, Goulding sent a letter to the Colorado secretary of state which disclosed that he recently had became an employee of Evans Chaffee Construction, less than two months after Evans and Goulding were elected. Currently, Goulding’s bio on the Avon town website does not reveal his employment status with Evans Chaffee.
Would the citizens of Avon have elected two council members with identical business interests? I think not. Evans and Goulding were complicit in this ruse, which has given them the audacity to try their latest residency scam.
Are they still residents of Avon? Not in my opinion.
In November 2012, Evans purchased a home in east Vail. In January 2013, Evans disclosed to the Avon Town Council that he had moved his family to their recently purchased “investment property” in east Vail.
His rationale for moving was understandable — to be closer to his children’s school. However, it seems to me that he values reducing car-pooling time over actually living in the community that he governs. Evans maintains that his “legal residence” is still in Avon because he maintains ownership of both residential and commercial property in Avon, his driver’s license has an Avon address, and he has not changed his voter registration. This rationale was accepted by the Avon Town Council.
This strategy worked for Evans, so Goulding followed his lead when he moved out of Avon. Goulding used a slightly different approach to retain his Town Council seat, at least for one year.
On May 20, Goulding informed the Avon Town Council that he had lost his lease in Wildridge and had been unsuccessful in purchasing a suitable home for his family in Avon. The Eagle County records reveal that Goulding had closed on a home in Edwards on April 12.
According to Goulding’s letter to the Town Council, he used the one-year loophole and plans to designate his Avon townhome as his place of abode when the current tenant’s lease is up for renewal on Sept. 1.
If Goulding’s family wasn’t willing to live in their townhome for the past few years while they rented a home in Wildridge, it seems unlikely that his family would be willing to move back into the townhome now that they have purchased a home in Homestead. Goulding will maintain that his “legal residence” will once again be Avon because he maintains ownership of residential property in Avon, his driver’s license has an Avon address, and he has not changed his voter registration.
According to the Chapter 2.30 of the Avon Municipal Code: “Principal or primary home or place of abode is that home or place in which his or her habitation is fixed and to which a person, whenever he or she is absent, has the present intention of returning after a departure or absence therefrom. A person shall not be considered to have lost his or her residence if he or she leaves his or her home in the town to go out of town merely for temporary purposes with an intention of returning. If the person moves out of town with the intention of making it his or her permanent residence, he or she shall be considered to have lost his or her residence in the town.”
The purpose of the section is to avoid the loss of residency if an Avon Town Council member has to go out of town for an extended period of time for work or travel or to take care of an ailing family member, as long as the council member does not establish a permanent residence outside of Avon. Several past council members have appropriately used this provision.
In the case of Evans and Goulding, they are abusing this provision for personal gain, having purchased homes within a few miles of Avon, and it is apparent that they have established those homes as their permanent family residences. While Evans and Goulding are relying on the difficulty of proving “intention,” I doubt Evans has spent many nights in his home in Avon in 2013, and I doubt Goulding will move back into his townhome in September.
In a Vail Daily campaign article on Oct. 28, 2010, Evans said he would like to “see the town stay family-friendly.” As a candidate, Goulding discussed his vision for Avon in the Aug. 10, 2010, edition of the Vail Daily: “I want Avon to be more than a second-home owner community.”
In just over two years, Evans’ and Goulding’s commitment to making Avon “family friendly” and “more than a second-home community” has resulted in both of their families moving out of Avon. Fortunately, they have each been successful enough, even during this downturn in the construction industry, to become second homeowners in Avon.
In my opinion, Evans and Goulding need to resign their Town Council seats immediately, as they are no longer residents of Avon and because they prioritize their business interests over the interests of the citizens of Avon.
I encourage Avon citizens, residents and taxpayers who also believe that councilmen Evans and Goulding are no longer appropriately representing them to send a letter or email to Avon Mayor Rich Carroll (email@example.com) or any of the Avon Town Council members to request that they both resign immediately.
Amy Cramer Phillips
Avon Town Councilwoman (2004-12)