Hailey Morton Levinson
Planning is about how, and for whom, we create the future of our community. Wildlife, year-round residents, second homeowners, and tourists all depend on our one-of-a-kind landscape for ecosystem services, health, and our economy. What is your dream scenario for the future of Jackson Hole? What is your nightmare?
Michael Kudar: The dream scenario is that Jackson’s way of life is preserved. What I mean by this is, the reason WHY you chose to live and work here. This Wyoming life is dear to our hearts. We continue to work harder and smarter. We continue to bring people together. We continue to learn from one another. We humbly support one another through thick and thin. My mayoral future is citizen-focused and community-driven.
It’s when the divisive tenure of local and national politics interjects Jackson, and we lose focus on our priorities in the seat. This is not good leadership and is not a positive solution for the next four years. Take a moment and think about what concerns you have had in the last eight years? The last four years? Now think about how your current mayor and vice mayor served your concerns?
Hailey Morton-Levinson: My dream scenario is one where our community members can live and grow and sustain a life without having to spend every dollar on housing or every hour working. One where our community can raise our kids to come back if they want and have sustainable jobs. This balanced with our ecosystem and nature is the dream scenario. To me it means the built environment will change but that’s ok as long as it’s housing community members and considering the environmental impacts we want to have. My nightmare is everything being built and not housing community members but rather lights off empty homes that still strain our infrastructure and natural resources.
COVID-19 is taking a toll on our community and shining a light on many social issues (like food insecurity and evictions) that the pandemic exacerbates. What policies would you adopt to ensure public health and safety is a priority?
Michael Kudar: These, unfortunately, have been pressing issues for years before COVID-19. It was this pandemic that heightened awareness of social issues. In reference to the prevention of the spread itself, the community and business response was resilient. Look how timely we can come together when we become aware of public health and safety needs! Many people pulled together. Local businesses creating the ”We Are Jackson Whole” campaign to help flatten the curve, One22 raising $4M for rental assistance, ,more frequent free community meals at local churches, the list goes on and on. This makes me proud to know this will be the inclusive community I will lead.
Your public health and public safety will always be a top priority as mayor. I plan to make sure the TOJ communication department will ensure every resident and business is knowledgeable about the local and state resources available to help them through good times and in bad.
Hailey Morton-Levinson: I have worked and will continue to work on policies that fund and help our health and human services organizations. This will be something that becomes even more important as funding for these organizations from other sources becomes less or non existent. Continuing the work we have done with the town and county on our health in all policies is also important so that we can look at decisions with that lens. Partnerships locally and statewide are integral to make impactful legislation and policies.
Local landowners have recently made a splash with major proposals to develop northern South Park. What is your take on the current proposal and what’s your vision for that area?
Michael Kudar: This private-public partnership is in the right place, and I couldn’t agree more. This IS the right time. Let’s not spin this into a fear based mind-set and leverage this as a long term solution to move our community forward. I believe the Gill Project team will have a mindset as they always have in all that they do for our community and they can promptly plan for a Climate Smart Neighborhood for generations to come. I will support the 65% deed restricted workforce zoning that offers types of rental housing that people can afford.
Hailey Morton-Levinson: I envision this area as a tool for community housing giving some needed housing supply for our community members. I think it’s exciting to think of this as an opportunity for this generation and future generations and building our community in a way that houses those contributing to our community. This area makes sense for development as it’s on the edge of town and can alleviate some of the traffic congestion we see coming from our commuter towns, if the housing goes to those living and working in the valley. For me, the most important part is finding the balance of making sure this housing goes to community members since there are other trade-offs. It gets back to my nightmare scenario where if we upzone places and build them all out but not for our community, then what did we gain?
There are many potential solutions for our transportation problem like building new roads (Tribal Trail, the North Bridge, and expanding Highway 22), expanding START service, building pathways, and charging for parking in downtown Jackson. What’s your transportation vision for the valley, and what role does local government play?
Michael Kudar: Climate-smart transportation plans that make long-term sense will be a top priority. I will support measures to increase pedestrian friendly infrastructure and the use of public transport. I will improve broken relations with Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort so people can get to work. We will use software to optimize START routes and help outlying communities and commuters get to their jobs. I will work with the Jackson Town Council as a team to serve you.
Hailey Morton-Levinson: For me, transportation gets directly at how we impact our environment which includes too many wildlife collisions and too much carbon pollution. Cars account for the majority of our carbon emissions. Like most long term and wide reaching issues, my vision for transportation in this valley includes a number of different approaches all with the goal of reducing miles traveled in single occupancy vehicles and reducing our impacts on our community. Since a lot of our choices are interconnected, it’s important to keep that in mind when we are approving certain zoning for example. One way we can reduce traffic and emissions is to approve zoning where people can live and rely less on their cars. Behavioral shifts as well as policy shifts (or sticking to the good ones we have in place) will help us make progress on transportation in this valley.
How would you address water quality issues like unsafe drinking water and polluted creeks and streams throughout our valley?
Michael Kudar: Foremost, the first way to address is through supporting education campaigns to individuals to do better for water preservation and protection at their homes and business. I encourage residents and businesses to learn more from organizations such as Protect Our Waters JH, Wyoming Outdoor Council, JH Clean Water Coalition and of course, the EPA. Organizations such as these create the awareness of the public health risk in turn that helps town government adopt sound water quality protections and policies.
As your mayor, I will support clean water policies for the protection of public health and the natural environment. Addressing Flat Creek and Fish Creek will be a top priority my first year in office. A majority of my corporate management career was leading teams to successfully treat wastewater to return to its natural environment containment free. It is not easy, it takes concerned effort, diligence, integrity, transparency, honesty, and good policy.
Hailey Morton-Levinson: The town has been working on a number of ways to address water quality issues that will come to fruition in the near future including stormwater management policies and undergoing a rate and capacity study of our wastewater treatment plant. Town, County, and State have the great opportunity to work together to see how we can best manage water treatment and making sure our water- in whatever form- is safe for all our community members and environment.