Touting the need for fresh thinking and strong leadership, Jim Stanford launched his candidacy today for Jackson Town Council.
Stanford, 41, is a 20-year Jackson resident who has worked as a journalist and river guide, among other endeavors. He cited three issues he’d like to work on: growth and development, fiscal prudence and transportation planning.
His experience in journalism has given him an understanding of how government works at all levels and taught him to analyze issues in terms of the public interest, he said. His background in tourism provides insight to a major sector of our economy.
By virtue of his age and role in the community, he is in touch with a younger segment not represented on the council, he said. He moved to Jackson Hole at a time when the town was smaller and quieter and learned what he called “old-school Jackson values.”
This perspective is important for serving on the council. “I feel I have one foot in old Jackson and one foot in new Jackson,” he said.
Mirroring that sentiment, he has assembled a campaign advisory team that includes Paul Bruun, the “fishin’ politician” who served three terms on the council in the 1970s and ’80s; former state Rep. Pete Jorgensen, 77; Amy McCarthy, 40, who has worked for several conservation nonprofits; and digital media editor Sam Petri, 30.
Stanford is a proponent of slow growth. He believes in the old Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance slogan “Grow Slow, Grow Smart.” He has participated in and been following the Comprehensive Plan process and looks forward to finalizing it with land use regulations that match the intent of vision statements.
“While I support the concept of moving development away from sensitive rural areas like Buffalo Valley, for instance, we need to be careful about how we accomplish that,” he said. “Town has character, too.”
In terms of fiscal policies, he said the town needs to be careful with spending, especially during a recession. He cited recent restroom construction on North Cache, unpaid rent and maintenance expenses by Snow King and the town’s decision to purchase a parking lot from The Wort for $2 million as sources of concern. Also, the town and county spend a combined $8 million per year on law enforcement, which merits scrutiny.
Better transportation planning is critical as the town struggles to handle current traffic volumes while planning for possible future growth. “For a long time, our community has been unable or unwilling to make any hard decisions on transportation planning,” he said.
Providing START bus service to Jackson Hole Airport during peak travel times is a goal he’d like to accomplish. Besides improved transit and continued progress on pathways, better planning for vehicles is needed on heavily traveled routes.
If elected, he said, he will be a “strong, independent voice” on the council.