6 could be write-ins
By Cara Froedge, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
August 22, 2008
County officials on Thursday certified the names of six potential write-in candidates to run against Jackson Mayor Mark Barron in the November general election.
County Clerk Sherry Daigle and a member from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party met to review and verify results from Tuesday’s primary. During the meeting, the group determined that of 159 write-in names in the mayoral race, six people had enough votes and were qualified to run against Barron.
They are: E.J. Hirschfield, Jim Stanford, Ralph Gill, Mike Lance, Bob Lenz and Stephen Koch.
The candidates have until 5 p.m. on Monday to file for office.
Daigle said that if the person who receives the most votes — Hirschfield — does not file, then the person with the second most votes can have his name on the ballot. If that person does not file, then the right goes to the next person in line.
During the primary, Barron received 88 percent of the 1,348 votes cast in the election; there were 159 votes, or 12 percent, for write-ins. There were 77 write-in names, though some were not real, including Zippy Pin Head and Woody Woodpecker.
Capt. Bob Morris received six votes, but he’s unable to run because he is a Teton Village resident. Former town attorney Dan Hesse, who’s suing Barron and other Jackson officials, received four votes. But Hesse is no longer a registered county voter, Daigle said.
If the mayor’s race remains uncontested, Barron, 53, will win his fourth term.
The canvassing group determined that Hirschfield had 37 votes, nine more than originally reported. There were several spelling variations of Hirschfield’s name, which resulted in the increased tally.
“I’m very flattered that my name was written in,” Hirschfield said Thursday. “That’s all I am going to say.”
Hirschfield is a relative newcomer to politics and has not held an elected or appointed office within local government. She did make a bid for the Jackson Town Council in 2002.
She advanced to the general election after taking second in the primary with 633 votes, or 27 percent. Hirschfield finished fourth in the general election with 775 votes, or 17 percent.
Former Jackson Hole News&Guide editor and reporter Stanford received 13 votes. A Jim Stafford and a Jim Stamford each received two votes, while a Jim Stamton received one vote. All are qualified voters in the county, and election officials weren’t sure whether voters meant to vote for those people or intended to cast a ballot for Stanford.
They did not include those five votes in Stanford’s final tally.
Stanford said he’s mulling whether to run if Hirschfield decides not to file.
“I like Mark, and I think he has done a fair job as mayor; however, I think we can do better in some areas,” Stanford said.
The writer, photographer and Snake River boatman said he would elaborate his concerns if he runs, but did say he’s worried about large buildings constructed using the planned mixed-used development regulation.
“I’m concerned the community is not getting enough in return,” Stanford said. “They seem like a giveaway to developers.”
Stanford is known for publishing the blog JH Underground, www.jhunderground.com. He also was an organizer of last year’s peace rally outside the gates of Teton Pines, where Vice President Dick Cheney has a home.
Stanford said he did not organize a write-in campaign and didn’t vote for himself.
“I feel strongly that Mark and Keith Gingery should not run unopposed,” he said. “I think we need to have dialogue about some of these issues. Letting Mark run unopposed is essentially putting a rubber stamp of approval on all he’s done.”
Gill, who was Jackson’s mayor 30 years ago, said he was surprised by the votes for him.
“That’s nice. I didn’t know I had that many relatives,” he joked.
Lance received six votes, while Lenz, a town councilor, earned four votes. Neither could be reached for comment.
To run, Lenz would have to resign from his seat on the Jackson Town Council, on which the mayor also sits, Daigle said.
Koch, a snowboarder, mountaineer and real-estate agent, said he hadn’t thought about running for office and did not run a write-in campaign. He was encouraged that Barron might have an opponent.
“He’s had a good run,” Koch said. “I think people were probably just intimidated [to run against him]. People are intimidated by his success and his popularity.”
Wyoming statutes allow residents to mount write-in campaigns. A write-in candidate for a municipal race needs only three votes in the primary to get his or her name on the general election ballot. A write-in candidate for a partisan race, such as a state legislative seat, needs 25 votes to be considered.