Teton County Democrats have new leaders who want to bring younger people into the party and get more working people involved with the party’s day-to-day operations.
“I’d like to see the Democratic Party set an example,” Maggie Hunt, 64, told the News&Guide on Tuesday. “I’d like to see us energize the community and get involved in public service, as well as pursue an agenda that’s good for all residents.”
Hunt and Patrick Chadwick, 39, were elected as the local party’s chair and vice chair. Marylee White, the party’s outgoing chair, was pleased to pass the torch.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I always think organizations benefit from new blood.”
Hunt and Chadwick aren’t new to the local Democratic Party. But they are to the upper echelons of party leadership. Hunt has volunteered with the local party since 1999. She ran a stock photography agency until 2013, and now serves on the board for Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area, and is on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Chadwick recently served as the Teton County Democrats’ secretary. He works in marketing and is a member of the Jackson band Inland Isle.
Chadwick said he wanted to see “younger folks” brought into the Democratic fold.
“That means folks who are working three jobs and don’t necessarily have a lot of time,” he said.
Chadwick and Hunt are also interested in reaching more Latino voters.
The two also struck a different tone from local Republicans, arguing in favor of what Hunt referred to as “creative and constructive ways to fund the budget shortfall,” which could involve increased taxes.
The Wyoming Legislature has debated a number of proposals this year to increase the state’s revenue, as traditional sources of public funds — money from fossil fuel extraction — dry up.
With some funding for education possibly on the chopping block, some of Teton County’s legislators have gotten behind or sponsored bills that would levy new taxes on Wyoming’s residents. Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, and Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Teton, proposed taxes on income and unearned income like investments. Both bills have been tabled for later discussion.
Hunt and Chadwick said they would support such measures. Hunt also lent support to a real estate transfer tax, though Schwartz’s bill on that subject also failed.
Both also lined up behind Medicaid expansion, and Hunt said she opposed the bills that would restrict access to abortion making their way through the Wyoming Legislature.
She described those measures as “overly intrusive.”
“These bills put an undue burden on a woman’s right to access health care,” she said.
Four members of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners are Democrats, and the majority of Teton County’s legislative delegation is left of center, so Hunt said she thought the party has done a good job of getting its candidates elected locally. But she also said she’d like to help expand the local party’s success elsewhere in the state, which sent only nine Democrats to the Legislature this biennium.
“I think that Democrats are underrepresented,” Hunt said.