The Conservation Alliance asked our candidates for town council, county commission, districts, and TCD the following questions regarding our wildlife, wild places, and community character. All responses are reprinted here as submitted by candidates, without any editing.
Please introduce yourself. Who you are and what are your top three priorities if elected?
House District 16
- Mike Yin: I’m Mike Yin. By trade, I'm a software developer. I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta as the child of two immigrants. In Jackson, I'm a member of your START board, sitting at a pottery wheel at the Art Association, or occasionally being in one of the plays being performed by Riot Act. I've been though the JHCA's CLI program and used that training to be an advocate for our town's recently passed Non-Discrimination Ordinance, and for the Plastic Bag Ban currently being considered by the town council to make sure we can be a sustainable example for all the tourists that pass through our town.
I've also been the Teton County Democrats Vice Chair for the last two years and traveled the state over that time to participate in the state party and using those opportunities to meet Wyomingites outside of Jackson and fall in love with the state as a whole.
My top three priorities focus on making sure Wyoming is a place that young people want to live whether it's in Cheyenne, Laramie, Gillette, or Jackson. That means making sure young people can see themselves settling down and raising a family in Wyoming.
- Making healthcare affordable for all in Wyoming. Right now, our ACA plans are within the most costly in the nation.
- Making sure students can get a great education in our public schools and university and technical post-secondary educations are accessible to all Wyomingites.
- Making sure our legacy of our public lands stay protected. These lands are what we all enjoy and must protect for our future generations.
- Barbara Allen: Barbara Allen is a 23 year resident of Jackson Hole who moved here in 1995 out of college. “I pulled into town with everything I owned in my car, $300 and $25,000 in school loans; I had three jobs the first few years I was in here. “I’ve been very fortunate to make it work in Teton County, and I’ve always sought to give back to this place I love.” stated Allen.
Barbara brings a strong knowledge of the mechanisms of local government and a long record of environmental stewardship and community service. She previously served as a Teton County Commissioner from 2013-2017, finishing her tenure on the board as chair. Before that, Allen was appointed to six years on the town planning commission and was involved in all 6 years of the Comprehensive Plan. She served on the Wyoming County Commissioner’s Association Legislative Bill Review Committee and was Co-chair of the State Land Use and Elections committee. She is a past Womentum mentor and past girl’s softball coach and the past president of Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited.
When president of Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, the chapter partnered to launch the Snake River Headwater’s Homeriver’s Initiative which massively expanded the capacity for coldwater fisheries restoration and conservation in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and has become a model for other communities hoping to expand their project capacity. The president of national Trout Unlimited was quoted as saying that he “had never seen a chapter step up like Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited.” She was recently recognized in “American Angler” as one of the pioneering women of fly fishing for her conservation efforts. She is a successful businesswoman who brings 23 years of land use background to the table.
My focus will be on making sound investments that protect our community and look to the health of our future. Investing in education creates a more stable, diverse economy and most importantly, a better quality of life for our future. Protecting public lands, access and building on conservation are core values of mine and also supports the backbone of our economy. Preventative healthcare saves the tax payer $7 for every $1 invested. Leveraging public-private partnerships saves significant tax payer dollars.
The state budget is the ultimate reflection of priorities. We are fortunate to not be in the debt that many states are facing and making sure that we are keeping government within its means is material. Having a strong, experienced voice that understands the challenges of our local governments and regional entities will be important as legislators debate where and what to fund.
It's been my honor and privilege to serve both Town and County government, to work on housing issues, to make strategic investments while keeping us within our budget, to make structural changes that made us more efficient and our tax dollars go farther, to support our business community, to support social services and family planning and to lead and expand conservation efforts. I ask for your vote.
House District 22
- Marti Halverson: I am Marti Halverson and I am seeking re-election to House District 22. I live in Lincoln County, but represent precincts in Teton County, Sublette County as well.
My top three priorities:
1. Continue the desperately-needed funding restorations to our mental health and substance abuse treatment providers. Seven years ago, Governor Mead ordered deep cuts to these programs. It has taken several years, but we managed to first, lessen the cuts, then, bring spending levels close to where they need to be. Still more work to do before every Wyoming resident has access to the crisis and long-term care they need.
2. Finish the reforms to the state’s asset seizure and forfeiture laws. Governor Mead vetoed our first reform bill. He and his Attorney General came back with a much weaker reform bill which needs more work to bring it to where we - Wyoming citizens and travelers through our state - need it to be. Then, complete the general criminal justice reforms we began two years ago.
3. Be more demanding for government agency/department transparency - what has been appropriated versus what has been spent. Has money been spent as the legislature intended it to be spent? The 2014 hike in the fuel tax is a perfect example of money gone astray. I support “Open the Books.” We cannot even discuss tax increases until we know where all the money is going.
- Jim Roscoe: Hello I'm Jim Roscoe. I came to Wilson when I was 19, when the population sign on the edge of town said "36". I worked as a carpenter & and as a ski patrol during the winters. I began Roscoe Company construction which is still in business today in both Teton and Sublette Counties. I was fortunate to be able to raise two sons, Will & Wyatt, in this fantastic corner of WY. We spent their youth climbing & kayaking. In 1993 I bought a remote ranch in Sublette County to escape the Teton County crowd and put a conservation easement on it, before it was profitable or fashionable to do so.
I served in the Wyoming House of Representatives for two terms from 2008 till 2012.I decided not to run again so I could concentrate on my business in order to
get my sons through college and support my two crews. While in the House, I served on the Wildlife Trust Fund Committee, the Select Water Committee, Minerals & Economic Development Committee, the Corporations Committee and the Governor’s Task Force on Brucellosis.
I currently sit on the advisory board of the Jackson Hole Land Trust, and the Board for 21st Century Heroes--a veterans’ support group which uses outdoor experiences to help veterans deal with both physical and mental health issues.
I divide my time now between the ranch and Wilson and get outdoors as much as I can.
If elected again my top three priorities would be:
A. To keep our public lands basically how they are, in public hands.
B. To support educational funding and investigate innovative funding sources.
C. To develop our mineral resources in a safe, economical and environmentally sound way, on our own terms.
House District 23
- Andy Schwartz: I am Andy Schwartz. I have lived in Jackson for over 40 years, starting out as a worker/ski bum. With my wife I raised 2 children here and owned local retail businesses for 30 years. For the last four years I have represented HD23 for Teton County. Prior to that I served 12 years as a County Commissioner and 2 years on the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council. My priorities for the next 2 years are:
As a member of the Joint Appropriations Committee my first responsibility is overseeing the State budget. As part of that task I am working to simplify the budget process, the allocation of revenue streams and the fiscal reporting so that the public (and the Legislature) will have a clearer understanding of how and why our money is being spent.
Wyoming has relied on mineral extraction (coal, gas and oil but also trona uranium etc.)as the primary source of revenue. The diversification of the economy has been a constant refrain – I have helped lead the effort to pass ENDOW – but without a change to Wyoming’s tax structure the new businesses that are created will have a net negative impact on the state’s finances. I am working with my fellow legislators to find a solution that will solve this issue and ensure that non-extraction businesses in Wyoming pay their fair share.
The protection of Wyoming’s public lands, open spaces, wildlife habitat and clean air and water is essential. I will continue to propose and support legislation to achieve that end.
- Alex Muromcew: I'm an investor, community supporter, and philanthropist living in South Park with my wife and 4 children – a 17 year old son and 14 year old triplet daughters. Professionally, I have worked in global finance for over 25 years. Most recently, I managed over $2b in retirement funds for TIAA, a non-profit financial services firm that serves teachers, firefighters and other non-profit professionals. I serve on the boards of the Jackson Hole Land Trust and Silicon Couloir, and am a volunteer ski patroller at Snow King. I also am on an advisory board for the Teton Regional Land Trust, and my family and I have been long time supporters of Sheriff's Meadow ( a local land trust) on Martha's Vineyard. I was raised in Washington, DC and have a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Stanford University. I have lived on both coasts and in Tokyo but am happy to call Jackson my home.
Senate District 17
- Mike Gierau: I served for four years on the Jackson Town Council and six years as a Teton County Commissioner. I have been fortunate enough to be a business owner here in Jackson Hole for 37 years. These experiences have given me a good overall perspective on the issues that our community faces. However, marrying my wife Paty almost five years ago and raising two children together has given me the chance to see Jackson and Wyoming through new eyes.
Having a family has given me an even deeper appreciation for life in Teton County. My family has also reaffirmed my belief in the importance of good government and civility. This is why I hope to bring common sense and our community’s values to Cheyenne.
I know that the bedrock of this community is the environment around us. While this is a local election, in a county that is a national treasure, our local issues can - and do - affect the nation.
I own Jedediah Corporation, which has been in business locally since 1980. It currently operates Jedediah’s at the Airport in both Jackson and Missoula, Montana, and previously operated Jedediah’s Original House of Sourdough on the town square. Jedediah Corporation has proudly been an active supporter of community events including Jackson Hole Live, the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Town of Jackson and the World Championship Hill Climb. In addition, I’ve served as a member of numerous boards and committees. I’m also the founding chairman of Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources.
With the experience and deep ties I have in Teton County, I will be a strong voice for our community’s interests at the state capitol.
- Kate Mead:
What is the right relationship between local town and county governments and the state? Specifically, how much independence should local governments have on issues like wildlife-friendly fencing or housing requirements, and how would you advance your perspective in Cheyenne?
House District 16
- Mike Yin: I want more local control for our municipalities. I think our problems can best be solved by those closest to the community, and the problems we have in our community are not always the same in Jackson as they are in Casper or in Gillette. By increasing the number of tools in the toolbox for municipalities, we can best address the concerns of those that we represent. In Cheyenne, this will mean sitting down with legislators and other communities to understand their needs and communicate our needs so we can all achieve the goals for our specific communities with new options. It also means fighting against bills that hurt that local control (like the one in the last session that almost took away our ability to enact housing mitigation requirements).
- Barbara Allen: I believe that government closest to the people governs best and that local governments best reflect the needs of their constituents particularly in a state as spread out as ours. As it relates to the wildlife friendly fencing question, I was an advocate for wildlife friendly fencing while on the Teton County Commission and believe that recognizing the differences between residential fencing and ag fencing is important as is working in a spirit of cooperation to get the best end results in the ranching community. There are many of our land stewards who have been very sensitive to this issue.
I believe that the best way to advocate a perspective in Cheyenne is by partnering with organizations and people who have strong backgrounds and experience in the respective subject matter.
House District 22
- Marti Halverson: The “right” relationship is, generally, whatever the town and county want it to be, not what the state wants it to be. This is a local control question and I support most governance taking place in the towns, then the counties. Wyoming has very few pre-emption laws on the books, and I have worked to keep it that way. Local fencing and housing requirements? Not a state issue.
That being said, this puts towns and counties on the front lines of protecting the private property rights of their residents. The right to use and enjoy one’s private property is foundational. Local authorities must carefully consider the impacts of their actions on private property.
- Jim Roscoe: Under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all powers not granted to the federal government are reserved for the states and the people. For the most part I feel decisions are best made close to home. Cooperation between counties & state agencies such as The WY Game & Fish and WYDOT is beneficial to both because those state agencies have a lot of expertise in their respective areas. Additionally, cooperative ventures between county and state agencies help shoulder the cost while benefitting local roads, wildlife and ecotourism. There was a resurgence of renewed energy and autonomy in state and local governments beginning the 1990’s. This rebirth of local control helped to fulfill the expectation that local government are ‘laboratories for democracy’: closer to the people and small enough to experiment with new and innovative practices. I support this belief. There are obvious differences in attitudes in the different counties in WY. Each county should have a strong, independent voice which reflects the beliefs and values of local residents. For example, it is currently state mandated that 60% of the lodging tax go toward promotion and advertisement of tourism. There are many in Teton County who don’t see the need for increased promotion and advertisement and would like for those monies to be used in other areas of tourism infrastructure such as lodging for employees, and wild life management and care.
House District 23
- Andy Schwartz: I have been a consistent advocate for local government during my 4 years in the legislature and the bills I have sponsored reflect that position. I have also worked closely with WAM and WCCA to promote their positions, particularly on the funding model for local governments. In the last session, working with Rep Gierau, we were able to prevent bills related to wildlife friendly fencing and exactions for affordable housing from being passed. Moving forward, I fully expect to see other attempts to constrain the authority of local governments and I will oppose such efforts. I will also work with the representatives of local government to help them have a better understanding of the legislative process and the realistic expectations they can have for outcomes in Cheyenne.
- Alex Muromcew: I strongly believe that for local issues, authority should be delegated to local government who understand the issues the best. One of my goals in Cheyenne will be to whenever possible include language in legislation that shifts more power to county government from the state. In terms of housing, I think the issues are so large, however, that counties will need state assistance in developing solutions.
Senate District 17
- Mike Gierau: As for the relationship between the Town, County, and State we must build better relationships.
The State can benefit from lessons we have learned in the tourism industry. We can be well served by building on the values we share. Our mutual love for the land and open spaces.
The State should look upon our efforts with Wildlife/ human interface with same open minded attitude they have in other areas. The Housing and Wildlife Fencing Bills last session were a product of misunderstanding and miscommunication. I’m running for the Wyoming State Senate to help bridge that gap. Together we have forged relationships on both sides of the isle that I’m proud of and want to continue.
With your support I will be honored to continue that service.
- Kate Mead: