DENVER POST: Thursday, April 08, 2004 Page 4B
Regional briefs: 3 elected to council in Breckenridge
BRECKENRIDGE – Call him “Councilman America” now. Jeffrey Bergeron, a local media personality whose wisecracking alter-ego Biff America created a less-than-serious public persona to overcome at the polls, was one of three candidates elected to the Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday along with unopposed new mayor Ernie Blake. Bergeron joined top vote-getter Eric Mamula, a prominent restaurateur and son of the outgoing mayor, and Rob Millisor in leading the field of nine for the three vacant seats. Meanwhile, real estate agent Carol Rockne, who admitted during the campaign to voting illegally in Breckenridge elections for years before her subdivision was annexed into town, finished a distant sixth. The council must now appoint someone to fill the unexpired council term for Blake, the fiancÃ© of Denver heiress Sharon Magness.
DENVER POST: Friday, March 19, 2004
Biff America makes serious bid for office Breckenridge TV, radio star runs for council
By Steve Lipsher Denver Post Mountain Bureau Post / Helen Richardson
Jeffrey Bergeron, the colorful Summit County media figure known as Biff America, is one of nine candidates running for Breckenridge Town Council. Bergeron says it will be an uphill battle to get voters to take him seriously, given that “Iâ€™ve made my living as a professional jerk.”
BRECKENRIDGE – The chief challenge facing Biff America as he runs for town council here is getting people to take him seriously. Jeffrey Bergeron, the alter ego of smack-talking Breckenridge media star Biff, faces a tough battle for the April 6 election in one of the most crowded fields in the town’s 145-year history.”People might think I’ll make a mockery of it,” said Bergeron, enjoying a recent lunch at Fatty’s Pizzeria, a hangout for locals just off the town’s historic Main Street. “I’ve made my living as a professional jerk. But other than … a penchant for mispronunciation, I have very little in common with Biff.” A 50-year-old famed for his irreverent dorm-room-style local-access cable show and thick blue-collar Massachusetts accent, Bergeron has hit the campaign trail on his Vespa motor scooter in an effort to prove his personal character is far more responsible than his public character.
“I’ve known Jeffrey for 15 years, and there are definitely two sides to him,” said outgoing Mayor Sam Mamula. “One is the Biff America that is essentially his job and his ability to entertain people. The other side is Jeffrey Bergeron, who is a very serious person and who has an opinion on how this community should be run.” Mamula, whose son, restaurateur Eric Mamula, also is among the nine candidates running for one of the three vacant council seats, has refrained from endorsing anyone in the race. But he said he’s comfortable with any of the candidates, including Bergeron. “All I’m saying is don’t mistake the entertaining side of Jeffrey because he has probably been more involved in the community … than just about everybody else. He has a good understanding of the issues,” he said.
The race isn’t even Bergeron’s first foray into local politics. Several years ago, he and his wife, Ellen Hollinshead, spearheaded a successful ballot initiative to establish a town tax for preserving open space. He has often participated in council meetings, and his shows on RSN, a local cable channel, frequently feature insightful discussions of the issues with county commissioners and other elected officials.
Bergeron said he is seeking to be the voice on the council for the lifelong ski bum, a remarkably large constituency in Breckenridge, one of the most expensive communities in Colorado. “I would like to maintain a town where a person like me can get established,” he said. “I think council needs someone like me on it. I wouldn’t want seven of me on it, but those people need to be represented.”
An avid skier who routinely dons alpine-touring skis for the climb up the runs at Breckenridge ski area, Bergeron clearly identifies more with the low-paid cooks and hotel clerks who struggle to live in a town where the average home price is more than $1 million.”I don’t want the town to turn into a hobby town, where only the wealthy can afford to live,” he said.
Bergeron, in fact, moved into new town-sponsored, deed-restricted housing two years ago, allowing him for the first time to claim residency in Breckenridge proper and to run for council. Characteristically, his bid is a low-budget affair: By last week, Bergeron had spent the grand total of $2.43 – he even had the receipt with him – for copies of a half-page flier he created. “I’m going to go higher,” he promised. “Actually, I plan on spending very little money because I have very little.”
One thing he doesn’t have to buy is name recognition, since Biff emcees many local events, writes an award-winning, syndicated humor column and co-hosts a Sunday morning radio show on Denver’s KOA-850 AM. He won the right to be listed on the ballot as “Biff” in addition to his real name, but drew the next-to-last placement, ahead only of mental-health counselor Mary Augustyn, a political newcomer. Other candidates besides Bergeron and Eric Mamula include software engineer David Cook, sports-shop manager Christopher Kulick, incumbent councilman Jim Lamb, lodge owner Rob Millisor, prominent real-estate broker Carol Rockne and planning commissioner Ron Schuman.
Despite the unusually large field for town council, incumbent councilman Ernie Blake is the only candidate on the ballot for mayor, according to town clerk Mary Jean Loufek, meaning a fourth spot on council – fulfilling the last two years of Blake’s term – also will be available, barring any unanticipated write-in campaign. Bergeron, who maintains friendships with most of the other candidates, doesn’t cloak his left-of-center politics but notes his platform includes stock candidate stances such as maintaining a high quality of life for Breckenridge residents and fostering a sustainable economy with restrained growth. “There might be a lot of people who like me as a person but don’t agree with my politics, and I’m OK with that,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows where I am on the issues.”
From the Green Pages, Summer 2004 issue:
â€œIâ€™m proud to be a Green,â€ says one of the Green Partyâ€™s newest elected officials, Colorado TV and radio personality Jeffery Bergeron. He goes by his showbiz name â€œBiff Americaâ€ when heâ€™s on the air or writing and earns a good living producing and hosting several local cable TV shows, one of which is a local Meet the Press type show.
Bergeron also co-hosts an AM radio talk show on Sundays during the ski season on KOA 850 in Denver, a Clear Channel station. The show is focused on skiing and outdoor lifestyle topics, but in 2000 he snagged an interview with presidential candidate Ralph Nader that was broadcast throughout several western states.
Heâ€™s also a prolific writer, one of his regular columns can be seen monthly on the last page of Backcountry magazine and he has won the Colorado Press award three times for best humor column.
Bergeron has also somehow found time to ride a bicycle across the country many times, from California to Colorado five times and from Colorado to DC. He rode once from Miami to Canada and from Seattle to San Francisco four times.
And on April 6 Bergeron won a seat on the Breckenridge Town Council in Colorado in a hotly contested race with 9 candidates vying for 3 seats.
Needless to say Jeffery, or Biff, is no wallflower. â€œOne of my reasons for joining the Green Party is that the party is unabashedly vocal about their politics and their stance. I think the Green Party has adhered to their ideologies more closely than the Democratic Party as of late. Liberal is not a dirty word.â€
Jeffery has never ran for office before, but in 1996 he and his wife organized a petition drive in Breckenridge for a half-percent open space sales tax. It passed and to date the program has raised $8.4 million that has gone to the preservation of wildlife habitat and recreational areas in and around town.
â€œWeâ€˜ve got to pass laws that might sting our pocketbooks and might even affect our lifestyle but would leave a lasting legacy for those that have kids and those that come after us,â€ says Bergeron.
â€œI think the Green Party is a viable alternative for someone to voice their dissatisfaction with the status quo. I think itâ€™s important that the Green Party exist and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m a member because I think the status quo needs to realize that there is a large segment of the population that cares much more about how we leave the planet after weâ€™re gone than about much money we make while weâ€™re here.â€
â€œThere are two types of people,â€ Bergeron says as he quotes from the book Ishmael, â€œthe leavers and the takers. And the leavers leave the earth just a little better than they found it and the takers take from the earth and leave it a little more diminished and reduced.â€
â€œI wanted to run as a Green because I want people to know where I stand, what you see is what you get. Every liberal person needs to be proud of their liberalism and not be ashamed to state that you think rich people should help poor people, even to the point where those rich people are going to be slightly less rich. Liberal is not a dirty word.â€