Candidates for Tourism Association Board of Directors Announced

The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (GCBTA) is pleased to announce a slate of 12 board of director candidates for six open positions. A ballot will be emailed to Gunnison Country Chamber of Commerce and Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce members on Feb. 23. Chamber members without email can receive a ballot in the mail by calling the Tourism Association office at 641-7992. Voting closes on March 12 at 5 p.m.


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The candidates were asked two questions: 1) What prompted you to run for a position on the board? and 2) What experience do you bring to the table?  
Lodging south of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff  
Jim Valenzuela, M.D., Water Wheel Inn, Gunnison
1)  I am running for a second term; my reasons are many.  Initially, I followed those that have served before me, Joellen Fonken, Mark Schumacher and Mike Busse to name a few.  They still inspire.  Secondly, GCBTA is truly an example of valleywide interaction from snow fields to Blue Mesa.  The people involved get along well.  Perhaps most importantly, GCBTA is an extraordinary group of professionals making certain our valley’s tourism voice stands out among the many competing communities.  This association is crucial for our economy.

2) I was trained as a physician, which probably explains why I struggle in business (ho, ho).  On the other hand, I love the area and the folks here.  I serve on the hospital and art center boards, and I learned much on my first term for GCBTA.  I hope that is a good start.
 Restaurant south of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff

Carolyn Riggs, Brick Cellar, Gunnison
1) Being that tourism is in the top three of economic drivers for our valley, GCBTA is an integral part of private and public business success.  As a restaurant/bar owner in Gunnison, I have seen the results of effective tourism campaigns and believe that the GCBTA continues to create and implement strong programs that bring new people to our valley and keep them coming back for more.  A large part of what our visitors experience is in our dining rooms and sitting at our bars; while they’ll remember the best snow they’ve ever skied, they remember the people, the music, the great food and drinks that created the best vacation experience they’ve had!  I also believe that the north and south ends of the valley need to work together more closely to continue to provide that unique and impressionable experience to visitors.
2) I have worked in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years in numerous roles and now own my own restaurant/bar in Gunnison and serve on the GCBTA board.  I have lived here in the valley for more than 9 1/2 years and truly love the experience we provide our visitors.  My background is in marketing and public relations, and I have tremendous passion in ad design and event planning.
Christopher Scriminger, Flying B Bistro & Bar, Gunnison 1) Factors that motivate me to run for a GCBTA position include a passion and commitment to provide a unique and enjoyable dining experience for everyone who visits our great city.  My goal is for our tourists to leave Gunnison with a well-rounded and positive experience, which includes their dining experience.  Understanding that there is no such thing as perfection, I am always looking for ways to better my business and my community.  Just like San Francisco and Las Vegas are known for their great dining experiences, I too want our guests n to leave here with words of praise.  I am committed to exceeding our tourists’ expectations, and I feel that all the restaurants in Gunnison should share that same passion.
2) My expertise comes from opening a restaurant in Gunnison.  I moved to Gunnison originally because I visited the valley and loved it.  I moved away from all my family and friends in Oklahoma to start my business here in Gunnison.  I know what it is like to be a tourist in Gunnison, and I know how difficult it is to operate a restaurant here as well.  I have an executive chef who is on call to no only to help me with any issues that may arise but to assist in my restaurant’s continued development.  I’ve gone to extremes to provide great food, great pricing points, and I offer extended hours of service and live entertainment for the guests of Gunnison.

Finally, my restaurant The Flying B Bistro & Bar has never been about me.  My restaurant has been all about my employees and its guests.  I am driven to better my business and this community, and I would be eager to assist in helping other restaurateurs in sharing this same passion.

Nonprofit south of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff
Rev. William Waltz, All Saints in the Mountains & Good Samaritan Episcopal Churches, Gunnison & Crested Butte
1) I have been in the Gunnison Valley for about four years now.  During that time I have been falling in love with this area and feel that it is the responsibility of all residents and professionals to give their time to promote the economic health of the Gunnison River Valley.  Tourism affects the attendance of both congregations, and I have a vested interest having the number of tourists remaining high during the year.  
2) I have been involved in nonprofit organizations for more than 40 years and would bring to the table planning and development skills, nonprofit management, fund-raising, and grant writing skills that perhaps may be of some use to the GCBTA board.  I am presently sitting on the resort ministry planning and development board for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.  

David Wiens, Gunnison Trails, Gunnison
1) Stephen Pierotti and I were talking and he mentioned an opening on the board for someone from a nonprofit.  
2) Being immersed in certain aspects of our tourism economy and living in the valley since the 1980s has given me a unique perspective. This, combined with a good bit of travel to numerous destination areas across the United States and abroad, leads me to believe that I may be able to add value and experience as a member of the GCBTA board.
Real estate/property management north of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff
Molly Eldridge, Red Lady Realty, Crested Butte
1) GCBTA is the only countywide organization whose entire focus is marketing the area for the good of all businesses.  Before GCBTA was founded, each hotel, restaurant and retail store had to try to market themselves as their budget allowed, and the entire county really depended on Crested Butte Mountain Resort to do the marketing for us.  GCBTA provides a way for all businesses to reach a wider audience then they could on their own.  It is very important that everyone living in the county knows what GCBTA does for them by providing extensive marketing for the entire county during all seasons.  I have enjoyed being a part of the organization for the last three years and hope to continue the work we have started.
2) I have been on the board for the last three years and currently serve as the vice president.  I have lived in the Crested Butte area for almost 13 years.  For the first six years, we managed the Irwin Lodge, and then I worked in property management and have been a realtor for almost four years.  My entire adult life has been spent working in the tourism industry, including waitressing at Snowbird, selling vacation packages in Utah, selling trips to the Himalaya and all of the various jobs I have held in Crested Butte.  The realities of the seasonality and the ebbs and flows that happen in the mountains are second nature to me.
At-large north of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff

Chris Ladoulis, Django’s, Mt. Crested Butte
1) Tourism shapes our community both financially and culturally. Our local economy has long been closely tied to the flow of visitors who spend their vacation time and money in the area, and the experiences we all share with these guests has become a part of life in the Gunnison Valley. I moved to the valley 10 years ago for the same reasons that so many others want to visit. I’m one of the lucky ones who get to stay and call it home.

Issues discussed at the north end of the valley often generate lively discussion.  While we all benefit from tourism economically, many are opposed to being considered a “tourist town.”  While opposition to a revived local mining industry is passionate, we promote and celebrate our mining history.  While we depend on the area’s largest employer to generate tourist traffic, we’re often quick to disagree with their methods or blame them when the numbers aren’t big enough.

Until the valley has a more diverse economic base, we all have to recognize how important tourism is to our economy, we have to leverage our strengths as a unique draw for tourists, and we have to work together to make that happen. I’d like to be a part of the process and help answer the question: how can we continue to attract and retain visitors to the Gunnison Valley and preserve what makes the area so special?

2) My prior experience should enable me to provide insight and contribute to the discussion. After earning degrees in economics and business administration, I worked in and consulted for a variety of companies, from start-ups to multinational corporations facing challenges in their operations, strategy and marketing.  The tourism industry in the Gunnison Valley has similarities since we compete with other destinations for a share of visitors with a limited budget in a tough market.

My current experience also brings a valuable and relevant perspective to the board. My wife and I own a small restaurant in Mt. Crested Butte at the base of the ski area. A significant number of our customers do live full-time in the Gunnison Valley, but our location is ideal for attracting short-term guests to the mountain. This makes the restaurant particularly vulnerable to the ups and downs of visitor traffic. Consequently, we have a strong vested interest in making our area an attractive tourist destination.

Ken Lodovico, Custom Property Management, Crested Butte
1) Owning and operating a small business and watching my wife do the same, brings to the forefront the importance of showing the Gunnison/Crested Butte area to the world.  Our economy’s health and success is dependent on people coming here.  I feel that the GCBTA’s mission emphasizes this realization.  The possibility of serving side-by-side with a group of  individuals who are all driven to assist in this goal will be exciting and educational.
2) I am fortunate to have attended Western State in the mid ‘90s.  That is how I discovered the Gunnison/Crested Butte area.  Following graduation and a brief stint in southern New England, I returned to Crested Butte.  Similar to many of us, there was a variety of employment prior to the start of a small property management business in 1999.  As my wife and I now attempt to raise our three daughters here, I am seeing the importance of a stable and consistent revenue stream.  Times are not easy right now.  I am constantly discussing this matter with other parents, business owners and the part-time residents who I help caretake their properties.  A positive portrayal of our treasured area needs to be marketed.  This is critical.

Craig Maestro, Izzy’s, Crested Butte
1) The success and prosperity of our community as a visitor based economy prompted me to run. This is an exceptionally special and unique community from Highway 50 to Paradise Divide. Our valley has a wide variety of experiences to offer our guests to make sure they have a wonderful time and an interest in returning. It would be an honor to play a part in enhancing and expanding our visitor base.  

2) Other than owning and operating Izzy’s Restaurant, I don’t have a lot of experience. But, I do love and care about our community and the people of this community. I would like to see us all have the opportunity to live and work here and to make Gunnison and Crested Butte a place that our guests cannot wait to return to. We sell fun!
 Retail/commercial/recreation north of Jack’s Cabin Cutoff

Andy Elfin, Peak Sports, Mt. Crested Butte
1) I felt that it would be good to get the voice of another Mt. Crested Butte business member on the GCBTA board. Certainly in the summer, Mt. Crested Butte can use all the help it can get.  I feel that there are more things we can be doing to generate a prosperous economy in our county. I see others working hard for the benefit of the community and felt it was my turn to help once again.
2) I was born and raised in Crested Butte and went to high school in Gunnison. I later graduated from Fort Lewis College with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration. After college, I managed a ski shop in Steamboat Springs for five years. When an opportunity arose, I went into partnership with my father and we and started Eflin Sports at the ski area base in Mt. Crested Butte in the spring of 1990.  I operated and ran the day-to-day business of Eflin Sports for 11 years.  During that time, I served on the Mt. Crested Business Association and acted as president for two or three years.  I have lived in Gunnison more than 20 years and really have a good perspective of the local tourism trade in our valley.
Craig McManus, Crested Butte MacTrout LLC, Crested Butte
1) Tourism should be the most important engine to power Gunnison County’s economy. Tourism is sustainable, less subject to economic cycles and environmentally friendly.  As the only countywide, year-round marketing organization in Gunnison County, GCBTA is in a unique position to draw together all assets of our local tourist industry and nationally market to targeted groups.  I would like to maximize our return on the advertising dollar.

I am a fly fisherman by occupation and by avocation. When I cast a fly out, I expect a fish in return.  That does not always happen.  To increase the fish/cast ratio, I only target where I feel I would find fish I would like to catch.  I only use flies that would be attractive to those fish that I target.  I feel GCBTA would benefit from that formula. The Internet has exploded as a source of information in everybody’s life. I feel GCBTA should have the singular, user-friendly website for tourists to access the information necessary to bring them into Gunnison Country.

2) I have been directly involved with the tourist industry in Gunnison County for 20 years as a hunting, fishing and rafting guide, chef, transit operator and now business owner in the outdoor recreation industry.  Prior to coming to Gunnison County, I spent 20 years in sales and finance, beginning with a degree in financial management from Clemson University.  To our table, I bring financial experience, fiscal responsibility, expertise in sales and marketing, a knowledge of our local assets and tourists, and the desire to use all of those attributes to bring tourism back as the driving force in our economy.

Jason White, Crested Butte Angler, Crested Butte
1) I am running for a position on the board to help promote Gunnison County and market our area as a year-round destination.

2) After graduating from Western State in 1996 and living in Gunnison, Skyland, Crested Butte, Mt Crested Butte and currently CB South, I have a firm understanding of our qualities as a tourist destination.  I hope to bring my experiences of running my own business, Crested Butte Angler, to the board and work with the people, businesses and communities of Gunnison County to attract more visitors.

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