Town Council members serve four-year terms, alternating open posts every two years. There are four council positions (not including the mayor). Two seats are coming open this year.
Jim Rooks, Devon Viehman, Pete Muldoon, and Jessica Chambers seek to fill the two open Jackson Town Council seats. Hailey Morton Levinson and Michael Kudar are running for Jackson mayor. The races are non-partisan.
Learn more about the candidates from the forums below:
Jessica Sell Chambers
Some use these terms interchangeably but “community character” means keeping the people/retirees who power(ed) this place. Preserving “neighborhood character,” i.e. structures or physical spaces, is a red flag. It cloaks the path to being overrun with multi-millionaire residents in town, who drive property values and thereby taxes up. Their homes are either dark for half of the year or rented to wealthy temporary residents or satellite workers from the Bay Area, New York, or Texas—no offense to them. But, this changes the community character, which is what I want to preserve. And, the more restrictive LDRs are, the wealthier and unequal neighborhoods/towns become, the greater the wealth inequality.
Focusing on long-range, smart growth is where I’d begin. We have a great Comp Plan and ITP and we’ve done amazing work at concentrating development in the right areas. For community sustainability as well as achieving our climate action goals we’ve got to focus on a town “densification” with easy access to services, transit, schools, etc. The more walkable/bikeable we can be the better—for me that’s a quality of life measurement. When I lived in France, the most enjoyable and charming aspect was the ease with which I could access public transit, bike, and pedestrian streets, restaurants, grocers, and baguettes. Driving was a nuisance and something to be avoided.
A smartly grown town makes our community more desirable to live in so we must commit to deed-restriction for the people who power the place.
Managed, or smart growth, has been a mantra in the community for 75 years. However, while we have heard “lots of talk,” the reality rarely honors the goal. I am an action-oriented person. I am committed to shifting from industrial to ecotourism. I am dedicated to modest growth versus unsustainable development.
I support existing zoning regulations, mitigation rates, and complete neighborhoods. Eco and human friendly development must be incentivized, with a “carrot intensive” versus punitive approach. I do not support universal density up-zones throughout the Town of Jackson.
I support small, local businesses, versus corporations. I believe in development that includes significant community benefit and environmental conservation. The Gill and Lockhart proposals can be done properly, with mutualistic benefits for both the community and developers. Striking the balance between private residential and commercial building, and the health, transportation, education, and housing needs of the community is critical.
Finally, eco-friendly development is fast becoming a successful “brand.” We as a community must re-embrace our conservation legacy, which supports economic prosperity, and land-water-wildlife protections. The “Golden Goose” is wrongly being cooked. It is the central job of the government to make the “right thing” easy and the “wrong thing” hard. Private philanthropy, as witnessed in the “Save the Block” campaign with the Land Trust, private investors, and business owners in a model that demonstrates growth as a non-binary issue, or “for” and “against” debate, but rather a blended hybrid approach that honors both individual rights and the common good.
Sustainable growth means recognizing and understanding the various facets of a vibrant community and achieving and maintaining balance among them. A community functions best with homes for all incomes, jobs, schools, open space, desirable destinations and services, and different ways to reach them—by foot, bicycle, public transit, or personal vehicle.
Sustainable growth means creating density versus sprawl. When making decisions about future development, as a Town Councilor, I will consult Smart Growth Principles and make sure we create complete neighborhoods including “complete streets” so that new development does not spur additional challenges such as increased traffic congestion, decreased wildlife habitat, or increased strain on infrastructure.
Because interventions to prevent homelessness are more effective than addressing issues after someone is already homeless, I’d also like to see a Transitional or Supportive Housing program established that could create a secure space for individuals in crisis to receive community services and resources. If our community doesn’t have a safety net for our most vulnerable community members, we are not fostering sustainability.
Change is inevitable. But we should manage that change as a community rather than leave it up the market to determine our future based on what makes the most money.
Two big changes that are affecting us are the rapidly growing numbers of tourists and the influx of the wealthy.
Tourism the basis of our economy. But we have to do a better job of managing its impacts. biggest of those impacts is traffic. We need to stop subsidizing driving, and we need to work to attract visitors who want to visit us in a more sustainable way. We’re a world-class destination; it’s not too much to expect our visitors to respect our commitment to sustainable living.
The influx of wealth into our community is troubling, and the demand for high end housing has outpaced the supply. We’re now seeing older homes that have long served as rental properties for locals being bought sight unseen, bulldozed and replaced by multi-million dollar mansions that will never serve our workforce. This is rapidly escalating with the onset of Covid-19, and while this trend is profitable to developers and real estate agents, it’s devastating for our working class.
We need to invest public money in buying deed restrictions on these older homes, so that we can ensure they remain in the housing pool. We need to buy properties that are for sale, so that we can redevelop them into affordable multi-family homes instead of watching them turn into another hideout for the rich.
There are two candidates vying for Jackson mayor, Michael Kudar and Hailey Morton Levinson. Michael Kudar was a write-in candidate during the primaries.
Hailey Morton Levinson
We have a number of levels to look at when we consider development and growth in the valley. The Comprehensive Plan calls out development not to exceed what was zoned for in 1994. As such, in the last eight years, Council has rezoned town with that cap in mind. Additionally, considering increasing density in town and other already developed neighborhoods with reductions elsewhere gets at our goals of keeping open space while still allowing for appropriate growth.
My goals have always been to find the balance between allowing community members to find and make a home here while considering our unique position in this ecosystem and environment. I am not interested in growth for the sake of growth but rather knowing we will grow and planning for the type of growth we want to see. The type of growth I want to see is in homes that allow community members to live, work, and grow here, growth that doesn’t push out the next generations, and growth that embraces our entrepreneurial spirit.
I will follow through on goals laid out in the Comprehensive Plan, Housing Supply Plan, and Integrated Transportation Plan in order to support measures to reduce our carbon footprint.
To manage growth in a sustainable way, I will use my 18 years of collaborative, team leadership experience to bring people together for smart forward planning solutions for strong, sustainable, economic growth. The key to our success is by collectively working together.
I plan to proactively engage with you and the most talented members of our community. Together, we will deliver more affordable, smart workforce units and create smarter traffic solutions in the next four years. For future town growth projects or redevelopment, I will be looking to you to understand all sides of an issue; the pros and the long term cons so I can comprehensively advise before dictate. Further, I will support sound policy and measures that protect our public safety and health and natural environment. As your mayor, I am ready to move Jackson positivity forward to lead your vision into a future that you desire.
I want to do this for you. I want to earn your trust under new leadership and I ask for your proxy vote for the next four years on November 3rd. Please take a moment to visit my platform, positions, priorities, values, testimonials, and mission statement at my website below.
Board of County Commissioners
County Commissioners serve four-year terms, alternating open posts every two years. There are five commissioners with one serving chair as voted by their peers.
Two seats are coming open this year.
Incumbents Greg Epstein (D) and Natalia Macker (D) are seeking reelection. They are joined by Peter Long (R), Christian Beckwith (R), and Wes Gardner (I) who will challenge for the two available seats on the Board of County Commissioners.
Learn more about the candidates from the forums below:
Ensuring local housing options for our workforce is the type of growth I support. In order to do this, the county should negotiate with private property owners in northern South Park. In exchange for valuable density bonuses, the community must receive assurances of permanent affordability on a significant number of deed-restricted lots. Unless we act decisively and promptly, our community will continue to lose its character as market forces drive our workforce from our valley.
Creating a more efficient road network and transit system are critical if we are to reduce emissions, congestion, and wildlife collisions in Teton County. I support the completion of the Tribal Trails Connector with speed mitigation measures ensuring traffic flows at 25MPH. I support the construction of an additional lane in each direction on WY22 that is restricted to high occupancy vehicles and buses. These projects will work to reduce vehicle miles traveled in our valley, as they will create efficiencies and incentives to get folks to carpool and ride the bus.
My top priority is to deploy a more efficient and frequent START bus system with increased range. Thoughtful routing and scheduling can lead to decreased bus ride times, making them more competitive with drive times.
The Comprehensive Plan directs us to be good stewards of this unique place while caring for our special community. If we are to accomplish both of these goals, we must face our current realities while pursuing the vision of a more sustainable future.
The crux of this growth versus sustainability issue is we inadvertently prioritize resort before community by distorting the use of the word conservation to continue to stifle smart growth in Teton County. The conversation will continue to create a fear that conservation needs to compete against basic human needs, like affordable housing. We will continue using the same processes and zoning that are currently available. As a result, more sprawl, more vehicle miles traveled more pollution and more dead wildlife.
People who can afford the free market will continue to move here with new expectations and those that cannot will move away. With the pressure from the outside world on Jackson Hole, we need to really start planning for the future if we want a majority of our families, friends, and neighbors to actually live and work in the valley.
If conservation is a key priority, then people need to live near where they work. Let’s put density in the right places and avoid sprawl. Besides continuing to infill town, North South Park is the best opportunity. It’s adjacent to town and is an ideal place for a new livable neighborhood in the county.
Presently, Teton County has implemented an 8-month planning process, that includes the landowners, for the future development of North South Park. This public process will address; sewage connectivity, traffic circulation/infrastructure, neighborhood design/connectivity, walkability, housing types, affordability, open space, phasing and other potential amenities (childcare facilities, ball fields, park and ride). Without this process and an evolved vision on how to maintain the values and fabric of our community, I’m afraid of how the opposite scenario will play out.
My priorities as county commissioner will be simple. I’ll defend the opening words of the Comp Plan: to “PRESERVE AND PROTECT THE AREA’S ECOSYSTEM IN ORDER TO ENSURE A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT, COMMUNITY AND ECONOMY FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS.”
The Comp Plan, however, is a vision without teeth. I’LL DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE MASTER PLAN WITH ENFORCEABLE RULES, incentives and protections which, by clearly delineating expectations, will lower risks for all stakeholders.
I’ll PROTECT OUR WATER, developing a comprehensive wastewater management plan and demanding an early warning procedure that guarantees clean drinking water for all Teton County residents.
Rather than widening our highways or building new roads, I’ll work to OPTIMIZE OUR CURRENT TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE WITH SMART TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND ROUNDABOUTS to address the HWY 22 bottlenecks at the intersections at Spring Gulch and 22/390.
I’m pro-housing, but deed-restricted isn’t getting it done. I’ll work to create affordable rental housing—and I’ll also work to slow the need for that housing that’s being generated by new developments. That’s why I’M CALLING FOR A MORATORIUM ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW HOTELS UNTIL WE REACH OUR GOAL OF HOUSING 65% OF OUR WORKFORCE.
Most importantly, I’LL WORK TO CREATE A CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT to help protect and preserve our ecosystem.
All our candidates for elected office will work hard to meet the demands to live and visit here. I’m running to protect the reason those demands exist in the first place.
Our primary tool for managing growth is zoning, and any upzones considered need to carefully weigh all impacts. I fully support continuing our joint planning efforts with the Town with a community first perspective and want to see us get intentional about diversifying our economy.
First actionable step is to address wastewater management, clean drinking water, and water quality planning. As we have seen, more isn’t necessarily better and we need to make sure we are thinking about permanent affordability for housing as well as the other needs generated, like childcare, health care, human services, and education.
I am eager for the neighborhood planning process at Northern South Park so we can think about these interactions while considering multifamily housing and innovative zoning that combines our ecosystem and housing goals. Mitigation will continue to be a key tool for managing the impacts of growth.
I support moving forward with updating our nexus study to have the best possible information when making decisions regarding housing mitigation and job creation. Managing growth isn’t about stopping growth or promoting it. It is about balancing the needs of our ecosystem, people, wildlife, climate, and economy. Balancing priorities require our entire community to get engaged and stay engaged—something I believe we can do. They also require questioning the way we have always done things in the hopes we can build a better, stronger, more resilient future.
I am excited by this work. Together, we can take care of our people and this amazing place.
As a community, we have a responsibility to balance growth with stewardship. As Commissioner, I will fight for common-sense solutions that work for our community to make Teton County a sustainable place that our working class, and our children, can call home.
I support practical tools like the Lodging Tax, which fall on tourists, not our workforce, to offset the impacts of visitation. If elected, I will fight to ensure each dollar is used where our community needs it the most—to address our water-quality challenges, to improve public transit, and to continue to support critical services, like Fire/EMS and social programs. I will also consider adding the additional two cents to the Lodging Tax, to ensure visitors are paying their fair share.
As anyone who has driven Highway 22 or 390 at peak hours knows, we must do better to manage our traffic. Practical solutions, like dedicated HOV/bus lanes, smart lights and roundabouts, will alleviate traffic and change driver behaviors to get cars off the road, protect our wildlife and reduce emissions.
If we hope to make Teton County a place that our hard-working men, women and families, and our kids, can call home, we must address our housing crisis.
As your Commissioner, I will fight to zone new working-class neighborhoods that will provide affordable housing and rental options. I will work to introduce incentives for property owners to rent locally. And I will work with our state reps to rein in property taxes, which are pushing out working families.
As we consider our future, it should not be an either-or decision between conservation and our working class. That’s why I am running—to strike a balance and to make Teton County a place that we and our kids can call home.
General Penny Ballot Measure
Jackson’s Town Council unanimously agreed to put the question of a General Penny before voters. Voters will be asked to check yes or no to this question:
“Shall Teton County and the Town of Jackson be authorized to impose an additional cent of general revenue sales and use tax to be used for general revenue purposes?”
To learn more about the General Penny, visit the Town-sponsored website here or watch one of the videos below:
Curious what a ballot will look like when you get to the polls? See here.
Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees
Three incumbents and two newcomers have filed for the four open slots in the Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees.
Chairwoman Betsy Carlin and Trustees Kate Mead and Bill Scarlett are running for reelection. Thomas Smith and Jennifer Zung are the new candidates throwing their hats in the ring.
The Wyoming Judiciary is composed of a supreme court, a district court, a circuit court, and a municipal court. Judges of the supreme, district, and circuit courts are chosen through a merit selection process, where the governor appoints a judge from a list of three names submitted by the judicial nominating commission.
After at least one year in office, the judge stands for retention. If retained, supreme court justices serve eight-year terms, district court judges serve six-year terms, and circuit court judges serve four-year terms. Since Wyoming adopted the merit selection of judges in 1972, five judges have been rejected by voters, including a supreme court justice whose 1992 bid for retention failed.
Six Wyoming judges will be running for retention in the 2020 General Election:
- Justice Lynne Boomgaarden
- Justice Kari Jo Gray
- Judge Jason M. Conder
- Judge Robert B. Denhardt
- Judge Curt A. Haws
- Judge James L. Radda
To learn about the judges in detail, read this poll from The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center commissioned by the Wyoming State Bar (WYSAC, 2020, Wyoming Judicial Advisory Poll).
Wyoming U.S. Senate and House Candidates
There are two candidates running for the U.S. Senate and four candidates running for the U.S. House in Wyoming. To learn more about the Wyoming candidates running for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House please follow this link to the Wyoming PBS voting guide.