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Election season kicks off
Town Council race, Jackson statehouse seat will be top draws heading into August primary.
By Benjamin Graham and Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: June 6, 2012
With the filing period for town, county and state elections closed, the political maneuvering of this summer’s election season is just beginning.
The biggest draw this year is the nine-person race for two spots on the Jackson Town Council, which could turn into a heated battle over how to implement a new land-use plan that calls on the town to absorb density stripped from rural parts of the county.
Several state offices also could see a shake-up this year.
Freshman Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, will have to fend off a primary challenger, and Wilson Democrat Jim Roscoe will have to launch a write-in campaign or run as an independent if he decides to seek another term in the state House.
In the next several months, candidates will have to carve out their spot in the race, raise money and hit the pavement.
While the field for the two council seats will be pared down after the Aug. 21 primary election, most candidates will have to fight all the way to the general election in November. The number of candidates grew to nine with the addition of two last-day entries: Emy diGrappa and Steve Harrington. They will compete with Kelly Egan, Jim Genzer, Hailey Morton, Phillip Cameron and Jim Stanford and incumbents Mark Obringer and Greg Miles.
Mayor Mark Barron, who will be seeking his sixth term, was the lone candidate to file for the mayoral race. He could face competition, as he has in the past, if someone mounts a write-in campaign.
Debates this summer among candidates will be about the best ways to implement the comprehensive plan and how to manage the town’s tight budget. Some candidates have already marked out their positions.
The land-use plan, approved May 8, calls for 60 percent of countywide development to be directed to already developed areas, especially in town. Open spaces would be preserved by downzoning parts of the county or providing incentives to landowners who give up development rights.
Despite the variety of fresh political faces, young and old, the challengers may have difficulty getting the incumbents out of their seats.
Obringer has served four terms of four years each on the Jackson Town Council. He was on the planning commission when the last land-use plan was approved in 1994.
Miles earned the most votes in the 2008 election that won him his seat on the council.
Another seat could become available if Councilor Melissa Turley is elected as a county commissioner. The council would pick her successor.
Barron could face a challenger in the general elections if a write-in candidate garners 25 or more votes. The top vote-getter with more than 25 would have the option of joining the mayoral race.
The comprehensive plan also is looming large over the county commission race. Four candidates filed.