Meet the Candidates

Town Council Candidates

 

Guy Ciulla

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
I have witnessed first hand many great members of the community having to leave the valley due to the economic instability of the area. The first step the council can take is to ease some of the restrictions already placed on the current businesses (such as the cost of ghost parking spaces). The next most important step would be teamwork. Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte, CB South, Almont, and Gunnison have to work together. Instead of separating ourselves, we have to think of ourselves as entity.

 

 

Jay Harris

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
I believe the town council should look at green building initiatives that could stimulate green remodels and building in Crested Butte. This along with an examination of the new zoning laws and the payment in lieu of parking rules could have a positive effect on the economy of Crested Butte. To open a new restaurant in Crested Butte is often feasible until the parking laws take their shot at prospective new restaurant spaces. Expansion of an existing restaurant, or restaurant kitchen, leads to huge payments to the town for parking. These costs prevent the creation of new jobs. They are often viewed by the business people of this town as counterproductive. We can’t have unregulated growth, but it is time to re-examine the regulations as they stand today.

 

Don Haver

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
As background, the town of Crested Butte’s sales tax revenue for 2009, which is 56 percent of the town’s total revenue, as estimated will be down 11 percent from last year. 
We first need to develop a vision of what we want Crested Butte to be (or continue to be) in the future. Next we need to develop a long-range plan to insure this vision is reached.  An important part of this plan should be directed toward guaranteeing that Crested Butte continues to be an economically sustainable community.
The council should begin working closer with Mt. Crested Butte, the TA, CBMR (where appropriate), the chamber of commerce and our local businesses to increase our town’s tourism revenues and local jobs.
The council should be actively studying how to increase tourism in the off seasons such as possible mountain biking events in October, concerts in June, etc. In a couple of years, after the Music Festival moves to the planned larger performance facility on the mountain, the Center for the Arts should be available for concerts and events during the June-August high tourism season.
When the town is in the financial position, it should add a part-time economic development position to investigate what clean industries (software design, internet-related, medical well being, high altitude activities, etc) would be a fit for our valley.  There may also be the opportunity to work with RMBL, WSC, GVH and others to determine mutual opportunities where we could bring jobs and/or visitors to the Valley.

 

Brian Kilkelly

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
It would be a huge boost to the diversity and vitality of our economy if programs were created that would offer more education and training in technical skills for our local workforce. A possibility could be training workshops offered by local business owners where non-employees could attend and receive information and basic education about specific skills needed in that field and possibly where to receive it. Another possibility could come in the form of a partnership with Western State where such training and education can be provided in preparation for future employment. With all this in mind, I feel the most important source for this education would obviously lie in our own schools. Investing more in programs that focuses on sciences and technologies, which are constantly expanding, would be the most important thing we as a community could do to increase and maintain our vitality.   

 

Roland Mason


In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?

The town council needs to be very interactive with the community on coming up with ways to get tourist to come here, stay longer, and come back. The council should provide support to the local businesses in the form of transportation, recreational growth, and advertisement. 
 We all know that tourism is the engine that drives our local economy. The RTA program has been very successful in moving people up and down the valley, but due to the budget cuts the service has been paired back. I feel we need to increase the service even if it means people buying bus passes, charging a small fee per ride, or issuing a tax subsidy. 
 We need to draw people here during the off season and more importantly we need an alternative to skiing in the winter. I suggest a facility where people can enjoy warm activities for a few days of their winter vacation. 
 I am in full support of 5A. Marketing Crested Butte is going to be crucial in the next few years. The competition just got a lot tougher. Everyone is trying to find new ways to get the vacationers to choose their location. Our success lies in getting the people who have never been here to come.  Once those first timers are here it is likely they will return.

 

Jim Schmidt

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
Unfortunately, the economy of Crested Butte is overwhelmingly controlled by outside influences. Diversification of the economy in the valley is tricky, impractical, and has been tried before with no success here or in other ski towns. Bringing in McMartin Electronics cost Gunnison County a lot of money and went belly-up within a couple of years. The hay pelletitizing plant never got off the ground. Our location, cost of living, weather, and transportation realities make it very difficult to compete in attracting people to move here.
We need to focus on enhancing what we already have. Adding another five hundred students to Western State would be a great help. More tournaments, softball and soccer in the summer, hockey in the winter; races, both in the summer and winter; and small festivals all help. Can we enhance Fat Tire Bike Week? We need to work to get Ride the Rockies and the Bicycle Tour of Colorado to make CB a regular stop.
I would ask everyone who lives here to invite a few more friends to stay with you this year. Do you belong to any kind of group? Try to get them to hold their annual meeting here? Got a high school reunion coming up? What better place than Crested Butte! I get notices about bridge tourneys all the time. CB in June, late August, or September is a much better place to come than almost anywhere else. I’ll get on that one.
Every little bit will help.
 

Phoebe Wilson

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
If elected, my role as a council member–as well as small business owner and concerned citizen–would be to pursue an economic renaissance in our region. Given our picturesque surroundings and historic identity, tourism is our most natural industry. And while our summer is arguably more substantial, Crested Butte continues to be largely defined by our winter activities. On this level I feel it is essential that we diversify our scope and appeal so as to become a more year-round destination. 
 I spent a number of years in Portland, Oregon. During those years Portland was re-inventing itself. The transformation made me an admirer of Portland’s unique breed of city planning. The city, businesses and citizens together have effectively fostered an economic, architectural, and social revival that stimulates creative design, sustainability, and unique quasi-non-traditional business plans. These tenets have produced a subculture that locals embrace and pride while also attracting, maintaining, and increasing a healthy visitor base. In a similar vein, I would like to encourage a renewed focus on projects that couple our rich, unique historic character and appreciation of our surroundings with business concepts that reflect the nature of our creative and funky community.

 

John Wirsing

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
Now more than ever we need to be looking at ways of attracting tourists and businesses to Crested Butte. The town council should be openly looking at reasons why someone would want to locate their business here. I am not talking about another restaurant or bar but a business that hires locals and creates good jobs. Some of these businesses might be internet based or professionals that can work remotely. I have had great experience working with an internet retail business that employed up to 8 people and was growing. It had a national customer base that provided jobs here. There are many businesses like this that would rather be in a cool mountain town instead of an office building in a city. We need to find a way to get them here so they can fill houses and offices and spend their paychecks in our restaurants and shops daily.
 We should also be looking for new events and attractions to bring in tourists during the slower seasons. One restaurant owner asked why we didn’t have anything but the town garage sale on Labor Day weekend. His suggestion was that Elk Ave should be closed with a live band playing on Friday and Saturday nights. Maybe a bike race or some other event could bring people here for the three-day weekend. I think the town council should be open and encouraging to all ideas like this that can create some excitement in town.

 

 

Mayoral Candidate

 

Leah Williams

In a shaky tourist economy and with some people leaving the valley, what role if any, should the Crested Butte council take to enhance the economic vitality of the area?
As a council we need to be open to explore possibilities and implement those ideas that will benefit our businesses, non-profits and community as a whole. Yes, we are a tourism-based economy susceptible to economic downturns since we are dependent on sales tax for much of what we do. We owe it to our 1,700 residents including our families who want to stay and raise their kids in ”paradise” to be open to building a sustainable economic future.
We as a council can facilitate discussions among our business owners, non-profits, Elk Avenue property owners, the Chamber, SBDC at Western State, CBMR, Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte. We have abundant local resources to draw on. Government can’t do everything, but we can facilitate interaction with these groups to come up with solutions that work for us all. With vacancies on Elk Avenue the council can play a role in working on partnerships with non-profits and for profit businesses. There are synergies we all benefit from: the programming from the Center for the Arts, Mountain Theatre, the Museum, Trailhead Museum enhance the restaurants and shopping experience and create a downtown we all benefit from: locals, tourists and second homeowners.
We do engage in our own small scale stimulus funding. We initiated a Butte Bucks program this summer. Every year we contribute to non-profits through our service grants and our Venture Fund. Many of these have direct economic benefit.
 

 

Correction
 

The rest of Phoebe’s answer

In last week’s question to the candidates concerning the relationship of the town council with CBMR, part of Phoebe Wilson’s answer was inadvertently left out. We apologize for the error. Here is the rest of her response:

“As to the proper relationship between town and CBMR, the lives of Cheng and Eng Bunker (first recorded Siamese twins) comes to mind. Both men had individual personalities, homes, and even sizable families. Yet one could not survive independent of the other, and to exist and thrive took great cooperation. This is how I view this relationship, where our mutual welfare depends on our ability to effectively co-exist. Town must understand CBMR’s position as a business (and the largest employer in the upper-valley), in turn CBMR must address legitimate community concerns with regards to long-term impacts and viability given underlying changes in the overall industry.”

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