SUMMIT ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
BRECKENRIDGE TOWN COUNCIL CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
In order to ensure REALTORS® are educated and prepared for the upcoming Town Council elections in Breckenridge, SAR has asked the candidates to answer questions important to the real estate community. 6 candidates are running for three open seats and mayor. Jeffrey Bergeron & Eric Mamula are term-limited.
The elections will be held on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012.
The CANDIDATES are: Peter Joyce (incumbent), John Warner (incumbent, Mayor), Gary Gallagher, Amy Perchick, Wendy Wolfe, & Ben Brewer
- What are you promoting in your campaign that differs from the existing council’s past approach? How do your qualifications support your capacity to address those issues? If you are a sitting member, is there anything you will promote differently, if re-elected?
WENDY WOLFE: Basic services are a priority. Those services include snow and sidewalk plowing, street lighting, maintenance and public safety. The Town has cut back some services in part to endure the recent economic downturn and in part for sustainability. I believe the town must provide an equitable level of service to all of its residents before moving on to fund other discretionary projects. I support sustainability, but, not at all costs. It has to make common sense for our community and be held to the same standards as other initiatives. Our safety, the long respected aesthetic codes, and a healthy respect for ever-changing technologies needs to apply to sustainability discussions. Transportation and parking is key to our economic vitality and critical to the guest experience in our Town. We need to become more forward thinking and aggressive in partnering with the Ski Area to create and execute a long- term vision for transportation and parking. I have a business background working for a large resort company. I understand resort dynamics. I also understand how to partner with large companies and create win/win strategies for the benefit of our community and the guests who contribute to the economy of our Town.
BEN BREWER: I am a realtor… the only realtor among all of the current members of town council and all of the candidates. I think it’s important to have a realtor’s voice on town council to advocate for and communicate our industry’s perspective on town issues. We make up a large part of the local economy, not just considering the money we make and spend here, but the money we bring here. In addition, I’m a strong advocate of using local businesses for town projects. I am also a strong advocate for the little guy, the small business owner and the middle class in Breckenridge. My qualifications support this because I am all of these things. I am a flooring rep for Carpet Direct on the side, which has given me great insight into the building trades and home improvement areas as well.
AMY PERCHICK: I believe that the Town of Breckenridge needs to continue to support early childhood education; however there needs to be either an identified source of funding and/or the criteria to qualify for the scholarships needs to be reviewed and restricted. As an occupational therapist I have worked with children with developmental disabilities in their homes, at school and in rehabilitation. I have hands-on experience with the importance of quality early childhood education to the cognitive, physical and emotional development of a child. My role as a mother of child in a Breckenridge early childhood education center, as well as my business education and experience provide a balanced perspective on this issue
PETER JOYCE: I am a sitting member and look forward to continuing our work on the parking and transit solutions in town and with the ski area that will last in perpetuity. I also believe in furthering the progress of sustainability with a balanced and sensible approach to the availability of solar gardens for business, residential and town use. In addition, continuing the fiscally responsible management of our Town budget which has resulted in a very balanced and secure financial position despite declining revenues.
GARY GALLAGHER: Town Council developed a compelling vision of the town’s future, based on affordability, controlled growth, open space and a great guest experience. I have no business interests in Breckenridge that could bias my actions on this vision. My career in financial services qualifies me by giving me a logical, analytical approach to decision making and problem solving. I also have experience in public service to the community. I now serve on the board of the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District, the Summit Combined Housing Authority and the Summit County Wildfire Council. I have served previously on the board of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and the Highlands Park Property Owners Association.
- Typically homeownership requires a job within our community, aside from recreation and tourism, where do you believe the greatest potential for growth and new job creation exists?
WENDY WOLFE: We are a small community driven by a recreation and tourism economy with little diversity to fall back on for jobs. I believe that it is best to “fish where the fish are.” There is still demand for our product. The recession has caused a re-set to our way of doing business and that has been a challenge for all of us. But our come-back will be in the same businesses that serve the recreation and tourism customer. With creative ideas and ever-changing technologies there is always room for a new twist on how to serve our recreation and tourism industry better. The Town needs to be supportive of start-up businesses and keep the barriers to entry at a minimum.
BEN BREWER: Small businesses in every industry will be the drivers of new job growth in Breckenridge. This includes jobs in the building trades and real estate offices. Many of my neighbors in the Wellington Neighborhood are construction managers, realtors and small business owners of every sort.
AMY PERCHICK: The population of this country, county and town are aging. Families that bought second homes here are choosing to retire and stay in our community. There are opportunities in the service, retail and healthcare industries to meet the needs of this growing population.
PETER JOYCE: As a body, all of us on council embrace the concept that we live in a tourist based community. Many ideas have been explored looking for new economic engines and the reality is we have a terrific engine in place right now. We have the luxury of being able to improve on a strong model by adding to marketing dollars, partnerships with the ski area on events and marketing, continuing to support our own events like The international Snow Sculpture Championships and the Pro Cycling Challenge. Creating a vibrant Town will enhance other sectors of our economy by bringing people to Town to build and buy housing and participate in Heritage tourism.
GARY GALLAGHER: Recreation and tourism have been and will continue to be the mainstay of the local economy. However, incremental opportunities in new construction, both housing and perhaps commercial ( Lowes, Whole Foods, F Lot ) could add to the job base. However these jobs, often providing lower wages would only exacerbate the need for additional workforce housing and child care assistance. Be careful what you wish for.
3. What impact, if any, do you feel you can make upon economic growth and sustainability in Breckenridge?
WENDY WOLFE: The success of small business in Town is a priority. It is also imperative to our community that Vail Resorts is successful in their business. In order for our community to succeed, our businesses of all size must succeed. Each entity must do their part and be held accountable. If we treat our guests right, they will return. I have a marketing background in the resort business. I believe I can add value to our marketing and Town operations discussions to the ultimate economic growth and sustainability of Breckenridge.
BEN BREWER: To answer this question directly, no single person can make much of an impact on economic growth and sustainability, by acting alone. My strength is in finding ways where the major players in our economy can work together, and helping to forge agreement on what measures will produce the best results. In practice, this means showing how the town and the ski area can work together to solve a problem like our transportation grid-lock on peak days. When you really break it down to the basics, long-term economic sustainability in Breckenridge comes down to two factors: the reasons why people come here in the first place, and the reasons why they stay. The reasons why they come here are simple: the mountains, the air, the skiing, the lifestyle. The reasons why they stay have a great deal to do with the real estate and building trades. In short, can people find a suitable place to live, and friends with whom to share our amazing quality of life. Understanding our economy is the first step towards making it more sustainable into the future. The future of Breckenridge is changing rapidly towards quality over quantity… and this is a big deal for our local economy. Future economic growth will come largely from jobs created by this phase change. For the building industry this means more re-development projects than new ones. For the real estate industry, it means more re-sales than new project sales. I’ve been in Breckenridge long enough to have seen three severe economic downturns over the course of my lifetime. I approach every decision with the long-term benefit to Breckenridge in mind. I am mindful of the need for balance in our approach. I’m well known as a strong advocate for open space and our natural environment. It is essential that we keep our area beautiful because that is one of the main reasons why people come here in the first place. I feel that we can do this AND have a thriving local economy based in large part on the activity created by the building and real estate sales industries, as they adapt to these new realities.
AMY PERCHICK: An effective transportation and parking system would make a huge impact on the continued growth and sustainability of Breckenridge. Breckenridge needs to encourage those who live within town and the county, as well as those who work and play here, to spend time and money within town. The council needs to ensure that visitors who park in the free lots find it just as convenient to spend their money in Breckenridge as they do to drive back towards I-70.
GARY GALLAGHER: To be honest, one voice on council does not create economic growth, but I do feel strongly that collectively our existing council did make good progress in this area through the addition of new marketing dollars to attract visitors. We are a tourist based economy. Stdy after study has shown this to be a reality, and by embracing this concept we will continue to have our best chance of economic success.
- Other mountain towns are considering or have approved moratoriums or building incentives on affordable housing requirements to help get construction going again. Would you consider incentives, such as a moratorium on affordable housing requirements to help kick start construction in Breckenridge? Why or why not?
WENDY WOLFE: I would consider a moratorium to help with construction and jobs. It would be important to monitor the impacts and make sure the outcomes are positive and balanced. If such a moratorium were passed I would want to revisit the topic within a reasonable span of time to determine if the moratorium should be continued or lifted.
BEN BREWER: Every business owner understands the need for attainable housing in our community. This is because finding stable, productive people to run our businesses can be a challenge in our seasonal, somewhat transient area. The role of the town council is to look broadly at our town, our economy and our community to figure out what’s best for us as a whole. In the past, this has included a variety of efforts directed towards making home ownership in Breckenridge attainable for the folks of average means. This effort was largely successful. Myself and my family currently reside in a deed restricted, Wellington Neighborhood home. When our home was built, our local economy was booming. The environment was one of optimism, very rapid economic growth locally and nationally and there was a sense that if the town did not do something to make home ownership attainable, our social structure and economic diversity would be lost, much as it was in other mountain resort areas of Colorado and elsewhere. But, as we have seen, economic conditions can change very rapidly. The recent economic downturn has shown us some amazing things and has narrowed the gap between the value of our deed restricted housing and the market housing in our area. So, to answer the question directly, I would not support a moratorium on attainable housing. But, I think that we would look very, very closely at any proposal to ensure that attainable housing continues to be available in Breckenridge, whether it is actually deed restricted by the town or not. In the future I believe that we will pursue affordable rental properties more-so than attainable home ownership options.
AMY PERCHICK: There are affordable homes currently being built in Breckenridge and Frisco. It does not appear that there is list of people waiting for affordable homes to be built. Incentives to encourage construction and jobs may be better placed on remodels and new construction in general versus affordable housing. Additionally creating incentives to build more homes in a market that has been stagnant may further de-value those homes that are already on the market or waiting to go on the market.
PETER JOYCE: I don’t believe a moratorium is necessary. Until our transfer tax revenues ( especially the numbers for existing housing stock excluding commercial ) improve there is no logic for moving forward with new affordable housing.
GARY GALLAGHER: No. I am not in favor of government trying to time/influence the markets by considering moratoriums or business incentives. To encourage construction and jobs during these difficult times, I’d rather have the town consider moving forward to accelerate for instance, build out of the arts district and/or rehabbing the downtown CMC building to house town staff and/or building an additional water treatment facility which the town will need to address in the future. Doing these projects now will invigorate the local economy.
- What is your view of a 2022 Denver Olympic bid? Would you support or oppose efforts to bring Olympic events, and necessary infrastructure, to Breckenridge and Summit County? Why or why not?
WENDY WOLFE: I support the bid to go after the 2022 Olympics with the hope of attracting some events to Breckenridge and Summit County. It will require additional infrastructure to be built which will cause inconvenience. However, I believe the economic boost to our community will have lasting effects and far outweigh the downside.
BEN BREWER: I whole-heartedly support pursuing an Olympic bid and I believe it would infuse our area with wonderful energy and new visitors from around the world. This is precisely the kind of exposure and publicity that could propel our local economy into the future. This is because our future visitor will stay longer, come from further away and spend more money in our town than the visitor of today. This must be so if we are to compete in the decades to come. By it’s nature this would be a cooperative venture for our entire region, and I believe that we could compete for and host an Olympics in our community as well as anyone in the world.
AMY PERCHICK: I would definitely support a Denver Olympic bid because of the many opportunities to enrich our infrastructure and showcase our community. It would also bring to the forefront transportation and parking issues that should be addressed.
PETER JOYCE: This is an intriguing idea especially from an infrastructure improvement perspective but the amount of information available at this time is just too small to understand the pros and cons of how it might effect our Town.
GARY GALLAGHER: Hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics is certainly interesting, but Denver chose not to pursue such a bid in 1972 over voter concerns about high costs to taxpayers and potential environmental impact. I’d want to study the short and long term plusses and minuses that other host communities such as ParkCity and Whistler/Blackcomb have experienced.
- What actions need to be taken to address our extreme fire danger with our deteriorated forests? How can Breckenridge further partner with the Forest Service and residents?
WENDY WOLFE: The Forest Service is planning for the creation of firebreaks and some forest clearing to try to reduce the danger to our Town. I support the need to take prudent action for public safety; however, I would prefer that our forests not be clear-cut to achieve the goals. As important as it is to be prepared with the condition of our forests, I think it is equally important that every resident and to the extent possible, our guests, be aware of their personal evacuation plan.
BEN BREWER: I read a very compelling and optimistic article about how the mountain pine beetle epidemic is now waning. While it’s impacts will be felt for generations, the acuteness of the problem is perhaps less severe now that the long term extent and effects of the epidemic are becoming more clear. As a member of “The Pine Beatles” band, we worked with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District to raise money for and educate people about the epidemic and it’s effects on our forests. More of this kind of out-reach and education can and should be done to help our community deal with the aftermath, including increased fire danger. My approach would be heavy on the education and outreach, and light on the punitive requirements except where safety is concerned.
AMY PERCHICK: There is conflicting evidence on the effect that forests affected by beetle killed trees increase and/or decrease the fire hazard. A study at Yellowstone indicates that “rather than increasing the wildfire risk, beetle attacks reduce it by thinning tree crowns.” (LA Times 9/26/10) A conflicting report by ABC News on May 11, 2011 indicates that beetle killed trees can ignite more quickly, burn more intensely and carry embers farther than live trees. The residents of Breckenridge are emotionally tied to the trees on their property as well as the trees in the surrounding open spaces. If areas are clear cut or thinned there are effects on the wildlife and regrowth that will be not be known for generation. The community needs assistance and direction from the Forest Service and local Fire Department in order to make decisions that affect their property and the environment in which they live. I believe open education forums with information provided by the National Forest Service and the Red-White and Blue Fire Department will assist in bringing the community together in choosing how to address this issue.
PETER JOYCE: I was the Towns rep on the FireWise committee and after a somewhat tenuous start, I believe all members left feeling we set in motion the basis of a realistic voluntary Town program and a clear path for Town staff to partner with the Forest Service on their programs as well. Very good progress has been made within the Town with respect to the removal of dead trees both on public and private land and HOA participation has been very high thanks to interactive board members and the generally positive view toward solving this problem. As many of you know, the Forest Service has started some programs and has plans to work on approximately 4500 acres in all. The hope is to begin several projects this summer and the scoping process is in the works with Town, County and near by residents to finalize agreements. Our US Senator, State Representative, and County Commissioners have all been lobbying for continued State and Federal monies with good success.
GARY GALLAGHER: Actually, many positive actions have and will be taken place in the area which address our extreme fire danger. Summit Council Wildfire Council ( which I am a member of ) provides annual grants to communities to create defensible space. Also, The US Forest Service has begun mapping and clearing areas in Breckenridge ( specifically in the Golden Horseshoe ) to mitigate the risk of wildfire. In addition, Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District ( of which I am a member ) has in their Cap Ex budget, the purchase of additional apparatus to fight fires in those areas that don’t have readily accessible sources of water.
- If elected, how will you work to address the I-70 “parking lot” situation that puts Summit County at a disadvantage to other ski resort areas, such as in Utah?
WENDY WOLFE: I don’t believe there is one “ah-hah” solution to the problem. We must approach it with short-term and long-term ideas. We should attack it with product incentive ideas as well as infrastructure and traffic alternative flow ideas. Product ideas could include aggressive packaging of lodging and recreation that would require the guest to come at a time when I-70 has capacity. With the current “App” technology, I believe it possible to find a way to keep our guests in town, incent them to shop and dine while they monitor I-70 with an app and wait for an efficient window to make their way down the hill.
BEN BREWER: This is an intractable problem that requires cooperation across all of the governmental and private sector entities of our region to solve. While we can’t solve the problem alone, we can do our part to lesson our impact on the I-70 corridor for the short term. Measures meant to address the I-70 parking lot, which also help to reduce the load on our own transportation infrastructure should be aggressively pursued. This includes measures such as ski busses from park & ride locations on the front range, directly to our ski area and downtown areas. In addition, marketing effectively to lure long-term visitors to our town help to increase revenue while reducing the load on our transportation systems. This is because visitors who stay three days or longer, take fewer trips on our local roads, and produce only one trip up and one trip down the I-70 corridor. If the town and the ski area can work together to help address these issues, we will ultimately be much more successful.
AMY PERCHICK: The Town of Breckenridge needs to continue to work with the I-70 Coalition. Partnerships with private organizations to encourage mass transportation should also be pursued.
PETER JOYCE: Sustainable transit systems are an important component for our future. I support the concept and the continued presence of our Town Manager on the Coalition that is helping to shape that possibility.
GARY GALLAGHER: In the short term, I believe that private sector solutions can make a significant reduction in I-70 congestion. We’ve seen many new start-ups recently that provide van and bus service between Denver and the high country which reduces the number of vehicles on the highway. Additional solutions might involve asking Vail Resorts to offer ticket discounts for those who car pool or take a van or bus to ski/board.
6. What do you believe are the hot issues in Breckenridge, now and in the future?
WENDY WOLFE: • Equitable basic services for all residents (snow plowing streets, sidewalks, street lighting, etc) • Transportation and parking • Common sense sustainability (energy, transportation, construction, lifestyle) • The evaluation and further execution of affordable housing • The sustainability and solutions to the ever-rising costs of child care • Economic growth • Environmental impacts of growth
BEN BREWER: Effectively addressing all of the issues created by our population and visitor growth are the hot issues now and in the future of Breckenridge. These include: scaling our transportation (and other infrastructure) systems to effectively deal with the astounding swings in demand that are largely seasonal. These are challenges brought on by our success. If we kick them down the road to address at a future time, we will pay a higher price to solve them. Growing, but growing smartly and in keeping with our town’s unique character, is an enormous challenge, but one that we can meet with cooperation, determination and courage.
AMY PERCHICK: As I stated earlier I believe transportation within the Town of Breckenridge and the county is a pivotal issue. The Breckenridge Administration and Town Council have done a good job ensuring the financial viability of the town. Moving forward the council and administration should determine how to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.
PETER JOYCE: Parking and transit between the Town and ski area, thoughtful approach to affordable housing and continued good stewardship of the Towns budget and many funds.
GARY GALLAGHER: In general, Breckenridge needs to be a community that works for everyone. One where the expectations of individuals, businesses and visitors are met. The balance we need to maintain is one of economic viability and community character in all things we do. Thus, Breckenridge needs to : 1. Be an inclusive community 2. Have a stable and available work force 3. Be a good steward of our natural resources 4. Be a strong supporter of downtown merchants, restaurants and lodging 5. Be a firm, yet balanced, negotiator in dealing with Vail Resorts But you are looking for specifics. OK. We need to: 1. Evaluate whether the town is adequately providing the level of basic services its citizens deserve. 2. Evaluate whether the town is maximizing the use of its assets. Examples being Riverwalk Center, Ice Skating Rink \, Rec fields. Bringing more visitors to town will increase the town’s sales and lodging tax revenues. 3. Asess one of the town’s greatest assets. That being our senior water rights. Today, the water we do not use flows down the Blue River to far away communities. Water will become a critical area of contention in the future, particularly here in the West. We need to be proactive and ensure that Breckenridge will always have the water it needs for future generations.
Scroll down to see the candidate bios…..
ABOUT THE CANDIDATES
I am a 17-year Breckenridge resident who currently works part-time, is actively involved in the community and is raising a 12-year old son who attends Summit Middle School. I am currently a candidate for the Breckenridge Town Council. The following lists some of the relevant highlights outlining my qualifications for this important Town position.
- Married to Jack Wolfe 23 years and raising a 12-year old son who is a 6th grader at Summit Middle School
- Moved to Breckenridge in 1995 after working for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando and Paris. I held several marketing positions during my 9-year career with Disney. The last position held was VP of Parks and Resorts Marketing for Walt Disney World.
- I also had a broadcasting career in the 1980s and a short period of time in the 90s with 9News in Denver (owned by Gannett Broadcasting). I was eventually promoted to VP Marketing for Gannett Broadcasting.
- Since moving to Breckenridge, I have worked part-time as a marketing consultant working on a variety of projects locally, regionally and nationally.
- I have served on a number of local non-profit boards and committees including:
ä The Summit Foundation Board Member
ä Breckenridge Heritage Alliance Board President
ä FIRC 20th Anniversary Event Committee Member
ä Summit Huts Association Events Committee Member
ä Early Childhood Options Former Board Member
ä Breck 150 Committee Member
ä Summit Medical Center Health Foundation Former Board Member
ä Dancing with the Mountain Stars Former Committee Member
- The Wolfe family has been active in many circles of the Breckenridge community. We believe that Breckenridge is the best place to live and raise a family which includes our happy, exuberant 1-year old Border Collie, “Ezzy.”
- For more info, go to www.Wolfe4breck.com
Ben Brewer is a native of Breckenridge Colorado, part of the Brewer family which established itself here in 1961. Ben holds a B.A. from Whittier College and an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He taught for the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Rockland Maine and at Battle Mountain High School in Vail Colorado before becoming a real estate broker in 2004. Two of his individual accomplishments include completing the Boston Marathon in 2005 and successfully climbing all of Colorado’s 14 thousand foot peaks. Ben also enjoys playing guitar in a band called The Pine Beatles. He lives in Breckenridge with his wife Robyn, son Jacob and dog Finnegan.
How long have you lived in Breckenridge: Since October 2004 (7 years)
Educational Background: I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Business of Administration from Temple University. I am also a Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT) and a Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE).
Previous Participation on Town Boards or Committees: I have participated in the Childcare Task Force. I have been on the board of directors of Timberline Learning Center since 2007 and currently serve as its secretary. I am also on the PAC Board of Bristlecone Home Health. We have participated in the host family program of the NRO for three seasons. I was also a member of the board of directors and executive board of Synagogue of the Summit.
Why are you interested in serving on the Breckenridge Town Council? I want to continue to improve the Town of Breckenridge as a great place to live, work and of course play.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Town? (1) As the town continues to grow it needs to develop a better transportation and parking plan so that it is convenient for the people who live, work and play here to spend here. (2) To budget wisely to ensure the town amenities meet the needs of its stakeholders.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about yourself? Like many people who live here I made a conscious decision to move here because I wanted what the town had to offer. We live in a community that supports each other and the environment in which we live. I would like the opportunity continue to improve our great town.
If you would like more information please visit my web page: www.amyperchick.com
My wife, Genia and I moved to Breckenridge in 2005. Since arriving, I have been deeply involved in the community. I currently have the privilege of serving on the Board of the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District, the Advisory Board of the Summit Combined Housing Authority and the Summit County Wildfire Council. Previously I have served on the Board of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC), Highlands Park HOA and have volunteered with BOEC and Guest Services for the Breckenridge ski resort.
Before moving to Breckenridge we lived in Boulder for 9 years with our two children, who were in middle school at the time. Prior to moving to Colorado, in 1996, we lived in Connecticut where I was raised.
My career involved real estate acquisitions, negotiations, financings and asset management of large commercial real estate transactions where I served as part of senior management for firms such as the New York State Urban Development Corporation, Battery Park City Authority, Lehman Brothers and Citigroup.
I have an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and a MBA from University of Southern California.
My current outdoor interests include, skiing, mountain/road biking and hiking.