Realtor Devon Viehman is seeking a seat on the Jackson Town Council, a reminder that, in the midst of a county-wide health crisis, it is still an election year.
“I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I have something to give back to my community,” said Viehman, who grew up in Jackson and is now raising a family in town. “Our community has given me and my family so much, it’s time for me to give back to them.”
Viehman announced her candidacy Friday night at the Teton County GOP Patriots Dinner, which went on despite a wave of coronavirus-related closures across Teton County.
She is the third candidate to declare for the council. Mayor Pete Muldoon and Vice Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson announced that they would seek re-election, with Morton Levinson running for mayor and Muldoon running for a seat on the council.
In a follow-up interview with the News&Guide, Viehman said the decision to get into the race now more or less came down to timing.
Viehman said she wants to see Jackson “grow in a healthy, sustainable way,” but the window to set it on that path is disappearing.
She feels like the town is swinging on a pendulum, with anti-growthers on one side and those promoting maximum density and high housing mitigation rates on the other. She wants to find a middle ground solution.
“I feel like the window of us being able to do that on so many issues vital to us having a sustainable community is closing,” Viehman said. “The decisions that are made in the next four years for our town are going to have lasting effects for my child.”
Viehman is a former president of the Teton Board of Realtors and a former treasurer and president of the Wyoming Association of Realtors. She serves on the National Association of Realtors’ board, and was dubbed a rising leader on Realtor Magazine’s 2011 “30 under 30” list.
Now 38, Viehman is an associate broker at Engel and Volkers, where she produces the Jackson Hole Report with her father, David Viehman, and Luke Smith. She hopes to parlay her real estate experience to address the town’s housing issues.
“There is a way to have housing for all,” Viehman said, noting that communities on the East Coast, rather than the Intermountain West, have achieved that goal.
“We are not unique,” she said. “We have to find balance between the public and private sector.”
She doesn’t have an exact “sweet spot,” as she described it, in mind for housing solutions, but she did say the mitigation rates are “too high.”
Viehman said the Wyoming Legislature has a “target on our back” because of the high rates.
“We have an opportunity to create a more equitable balance with those rates so private developers can actually develop,” Viehman said. She hopes to do so “before Cheyenne changes [them] for us.”
Viehman said housing is “the issue closest to my heart.”
She is also passionate about addressing homelessness in Teton County and taking care of seniors. Some of the latter, she said, “are being forced out of the valley because they can’t pay their property taxes.”
People should vote for her, Viehman said, because “I care deeply about our community and want to see it grow in a smart, sustainable way.
“I have experience, passion and a unique skill set to serve, and I am asking for this job.”
This article has been update to correct Viehman's position on local and state realty boards. She is a former president of the Teton Board of Realtors and a former treasurer and president of the Wyoming Association of Realtors. — Eds.