Christian Beckwith, a climber and founder of Jackson’s SHIFT festival, is running for the Board of County Commissioners as a Republican with an eye towards bringing all of Teton County’s population into the fold.
“I’m a Captain Bob Republican,” Beckwith said. “He always said run as a Republican so you can affect the agenda and the slate of who’s running, so that’s what I’ve done.”
“Captain Bob,” whose real name was Bob Morris, died in January. He was a local political celebrity who ran on the Republican ticket for national, state and county office numerous times over about 30 years. Though he never was elected to office, he still left an outsized impact on younger generations and referred to himself as an “Eisenhower Republican,” a fiscal conservative who was moderate on progressive social issues.
Beckwith, aligning himself with Morris, said he thinks Teton County is like an ecosystem that should support its underrepresented voices.
“A healthy ecosystem is by definition one that is very diverse,” he told the News&Guide. “Any single-species ecosystem is inherently weak.
“We have to create pathways for all members of our community, and particularly we have to invest disproportionately in the most vulnerable parts of our community in order to preserve that diversity and resiliency,” he said.
Beckwith’s focus on diversity stems in part from lessons he learned during a controversy centered around the SHIFT festival’s 2018 Emerging Leaders Program, which asks young leaders of diverse backgrounds to present on SHIFT festival panels. Some participants in the program said Beckwith tokenized their experiences and called for him to resign, which he did not.
“I learned how incredibly challenging it is to navigate the landscape that has been formed by systemic inequities and institutionalized racism,” he said.
Read more about Beckwith's platform in this week's News&Guide.