Town races take form as mayor faces test
Two council seats also will be up for grabs.
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: June 2, 2010
When Jackson voters hit the polls in the fall, they likely will be voting with development and financial issues on their minds.
That is the prediction of several longtime valley residents and political observers, several of whom have run their own political campaigns and served in elected positions.
At the close of filing on May 28, there were eight candidates for town races – five running for town council and three for mayor.
Incumbent councilors Bob Lenz and Melissa Turley both filed to run for re-election. They will be challenged by town Planning Commissioner Michael Pruett, Realtor and former town Planning Commissioner Ray Elser, and Kevin Petersen, a young valley resident who runs his own clothing and exterior refinishing companies (see story below).
In the race for mayor, former Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Executive Director Franz Camenzind and local cab driver Jim Evanhoe will try to unseat incumbent Mayor Mark Barron, who is seeking is fifth term at the helm of the town.
In discussing the field of candidates, the mayoral race is the one that piqued most local politicos, as it best exemplified the choice in development, they said.
“Franz has a long history with the alliance and is more opposed to development,” said former congressional candidate Gary Trauner. “Mark has been pretty balanced but probably more on the pro-development side than Franz.”
Issues such as high unemployment, falling sales tax revenue and discussions about how to revise the Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan are expected to be the major issues that shape this campaign season.
“I think the development issues that we’ve been going through the past few years are coming to a head, especially with the master plan discussions about what type of development we want,” Trauner said.
Armond Acri, a longtime valley resident who works with Save Historic Jackson Hole, said the local economy also could play a big role in the upcoming elections.
“A lot of people are worried about whether their business is going to make it,” he said, speaking on his own behalf. “We’ve got higher unemployment than we’ve had in a long time. I think that’s on people’s minds.”
The large field of candidates – both locally and statewide – could be interpreted as a desire for change.
“I think people are restless.” Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, said.
Acri said he would like to see more women and younger candidates, too.
“A few people have told me they think we need another Petticoat revolution,” he said.