Mark Newcomb, Luther Propst and Mark Barron are your next three Teton County Commissioners.
Newcomb, the only incumbent in a crowded field of eight candidates, garnered the most votes in the race with 6,128. He spent election night driving to Casper for a state Legislature meeting about wildlife-friendly fencing.
“I’m profoundly honored by the opportunity to serve the community another four years,” Newcomb said in a statement. “Thank you everyone who voted for me. The field this year was as strong a field as I can remember. All the candidates brought tremendous passion and ability to the table. I can’t commend them enough for their effort.”
Newcomb said he is grateful to be re-elected and looks forward to helping new commissioners “learn the ropes.”
“I’ve learned a huge amount about the community and the issues we need to address,” he said. “But every day I discover something new or some way I can improve, and I’m thrilled that the journey will continue for another four years.”
Propst, who has a background in law, conservation and sustainable planning, won the next most votes with 5,094. He was by far the race’s top fundraiser. He reported raising a total of $58,022 between the primary and general elections. The candidates who raised the next-most were Republican Mary Martin with $28,106 (including a reported $10,216 in-kind) and Barron ($25,200).
“I’m excited,” Propst said. “It’s gratifying. I’m grateful to the voters for the confidence they entrusted in me. I really look forward to serving on the commission and working hard and making really good solid progress on the issues that vex our county — housing for our workforce, traffic congestion, protecting community character and protecting wildlife.”
Propst suspects his message of balancing those community priorities is what resonated with voters. On the campaign trail he found enriching conversations with voters, even those he disagreed with.
“One thing I really admire about Teton County, especially compared to the dark place that is our government at a national level, is that people can have engaging, respectful conversations even when they disagree,” Propst said. “I think that’s critical and as a member of the commission I will listen to people across the spectrum.”
Barron, owner of High Country Linen Service and the former mayor of Jackson for 12 years, was the third elected to the county board, winning 5,013 votes.
“As you can see,” he said of the results, “there were a lot of hard-fought races and a hell of a level of enthusiasm in our county and in our town for some leadership.”
Barron thanked the voters “from the bottom of his heart” for their support, saying running has been a humbling experience.
“I’m grateful to be one of five county commissioners, and I look forward to getting to work,” he said.
The top three beat out a long list of county candidates, including Republicans Andrew Byron and Martin, Democrat Seadar Rose Davis and independents Wes Gardner and Sandy Ress (see page 18A for all vote totals).
This was Barron’s seventh campaign for public office. He noted that this county commission race was unique because the field of candidates actually widened following the Aug. 21 primary. Instead of narrowing the field to six candidates (three from each party, for three open seats) the field grew to eight after two independents, Gardner and Ress, joined the race.
Davis, a freelance web developer and musician, came in behind Barron with 4,333 votes. She said she’s thankful for every day on the campaign trail and doesn’t regret a single moment.
“I’m really glad that I did it,” she said. “The outcome may not be what I wanted to see, but it’s OK. I’m really happy for the three gentlemen that won, and Teton County should be proud.
“I know they’ll do a great job, and if they don’t, I’ll be in those chambers pushing them,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t think this is the end of my story, it’s just the beginning.”
The results mean the partisan makeup of the county board will stay the same, with Newcomb maintaining his seat and Propst and Barron taking over seats vacated by Democrat Smokey Rhea and Republican Paul Vogelheim.
Independent Sandy Ress, who sent an Election Day statement from Ethiopia, where he’s on an offseason trip, said, “I congratulate those who won; appreciate their willingness to do what I think must be a horrible job, and wish them well.”