Miller: A new start for our towns |

Miller: A new start for our towns

Tuesday municipal elections held a bit more drama and surprise than usual. In Breckenridge, no less than seven candidates were vying for three seats, and a good deal of money was spent along the way to air the various candidates’ messages. To some extent it seemed those who spent the most got the most votes, but incumbent Jen McAtamney won with a relatively modest campaign while Dave Rossi – always ready to make plenty of noise – didn’t get reelected.

The loss of Rossi on council was the most significant result of the election. Agree with him or not, he was a squeaky wheel and a thorn in the side of town staff, Vail Resorts and any other interests trying to push things through council. We need these kinds of people on our town boards who are willing to ask tough questions, be annoying if necessary and, yes, risk losing an election. Hopefully, McAtamney, Mark Burke and Mike Dudick – along with the rest of the Breckenridge council – recognize this and work to keep that spirit of inquiry and skepticism alive.

In Dillon, some folks were surprised that Don Parsons was edged out by Ron Holland for the mayor’s slot. Parsons has a pretty high profile around the county, but in Dillon so does Holland. With only a few hundred voters in play, a narrow margin was expected and, in the end, Holland won out. As a seasoned businessman who knows firsthand how the town’s economic doldrums impact businesses trying to make a go of it, Holland sounds energized about taking all the studies and plans of the past few years and putting them into action. The town will benefit from having Parsons still on board, plus four new councilmembers.

If ever there was a time to shake things up in Dillon, this is it. If they can just get that Yacht Club thing behind them and focus on the future, it should prove an interesting next couple of years for the town.

Over Silverthorne way, former town manager Darrick Wade joins David Preaus and Dave Anderson on council, along with the folksy Dave Koop, who ran for another term for mayor uncontested. I can’t think of a recent precedent for having a town manager come back to join council, but it should be a good thing for the town to have a new councilmember already completely familiar with how the town runs. I also really like seeing folks with school-age children join our predominantly older councils, and that’s what the town gets with the sharp, personable Preaus. Anderson I don’t know much about, but the fact that he garnered the most votes says something about his level of support.

It’s still highly unfortunate that the town’s attorney told candidates not to talk about the coming big boxes in town. But now, at least, we can hear what these new councilmembers have to say – and a tricky road it will be in the coming year. How can they accommodate the right-by-use of the Home Depot and Lowe’s while ensuring the new store/s won’t greatly exacerbate the town’s already awful traffic situation? Along the way, they need to do what they can to recognize the plight of those stores whose very existence will be in jeopardy from the big boxes.

Frisco, of course, saved money by not holding an election for its three open council seats – since there were only three candidates. Water Dance resident Kim Cancelosi joins incumbents (and strong leaders) Kent Willis and Woody Van Gundy on the board. Again, good to see someone with younger children at home – and a woman to boot (in case you haven’t notice, female councilmembers are in short supply in Summit County). Hopefully Cancelosi can provide some good perspective as the town develops the Peninsula Rec Area near her home.

Running for council is not easy, but winning a seat means making an extraordinary commitment to one’s community. It’s mostly a thankless job and one that can mean long hours at the dais (especially in Breckenridge!) I’d say overall our towns did pretty well this April with this new crop, and I look forward to seeing them make positive changes in leadership in the coming years.

Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at or (970) 668-4618.

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