One of the issues I’ve been asked about most following the League of Women Voters forum is the proposed Walgreens store on Broadway east of Sidewinders. Please don’t allow it, several voters have urged.
I certainly do not relish the prospect of another chain store opening on Jackson’s main street, and I have seen neighbors rally against a Walgreens elsewhere.
But the town council has to be fair in considering the proposal. We live in a free market. What the council can do is make sure the building meets the regulations, has sufficient parking and employee housing, fits the surroundings, doesn’t have a gaudy sign out front and doesn’t snarl traffic. Those are the types of concerns I would address.
What I have emphasized, starting with the LWV forum, is that consumers have more power to vote with their dollars. I have seen chain businesses come and go in Jackson: Polo and Benetton on the Town Square, KFC and Arby’s along Broadway, to name a few.
Last week the News&Guide ran a story about possible consolidation of town and county law enforcement. The candidates are split, the paper reported: “Some are hesitant to give up the town’s police force or reduce numbers, but not Stanford.”
I have talked about this issue since launching my candidacy because it’s ludicrous for a community of this size to spend nearly $10 million per year on the police and sheriff’s departments, especially when we have federal Park Service and Forest Service rangers, Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers and Game and Fish wardens also enforcing our laws.
The town is confronting difficult budget decisions in the coming years, with sales tax revenues flat or declining and demand for services rising. I’ve looked over every item of the town budget, and it’s pretty tight. Town employees haven’t had a raise in four years, and what limited social spending the town provides was slashed by 20 percent this year.
Hi, I’m Jim Stanford. I have lived and worked in this community for 20 years. Many of you know me from my work as a journalist — I’ve written stories about you, your businesses, your kids’ sports teams, even your rec basketball or softball leagues.
Besides journalism, I’ve done a lot of other work here. I’ve worked in tourism, on the ski mountain at JHMR for four winters and just wrapped up my 13th season of guiding on the Snake for Barker-Ewing. From the Barker and Ewing families I’ve learned a lot about running a successful small business.
Throughout my time here I’ve always worked at multiple jobs. I worked as a waiter, as a cook at Billy’s Burgers and later the Mangy Moose. I was a substitute teacher for the school district for several years. In the off-seasons I did whatever I could to keep my head above water: construction laborer, dug ditches, stuffed insulation, cleaned The Range restaurant. Even when I started at the newspaper, I guided rafting trips two days a week and I freelanced. I edited Jackson Hole magazine and projects like the Rotary newsletter (which is how I know about all of the fine service projects Rotary is involved in). I still do a lot of freelance writing and photography, a good bit of it for nonprofits.
All of this work experience, struggling to make a living and eventually gain a toehold and become a homeowner, has given me perspective. As a journalist I’ve covered a broad swath of the community. I’ve met all kinds of people well beyond my circles of friends, been behind the chutes at the rodeo and in the pits at the Hill Climb and Demo Derby. Since I launched my candidacy, I’ve talked a lot about perspective, having one foot in old Jackson and one foot in new. I could not have stood before you 10 or 15 years ago and asked for your vote.
This was the last forum for Jackson Town Council candidates, held Oct. 17 at Jackson Hole Middle School and organized by the League of Women Voters.
For those looking to get to the issues quickly, skip to these segments:
10:00 — entertaining intro by Jake Nichols of JH Weekly
10:40 — first question, about proposed Walgreen’s on Broadway, whether candidates would support and/or approve it
16:40 — workforce housing/density
22:00 — wildlife crossings
27:33 — proposed purchase of Forest Service property on North Cache
33:15 — Jim Genzer’s lawsuit against the town over comprehensive plan
39:42 — transportation planning
45:00 — affordable housing (subject of today’s Daily story)
50:30 — role of government/ban on idling or plastic bags
55:45 — town budget
1:02:00 — which candidate would you vote for besides yourself
1:07:30 — closing statements
There are some stark differences among the candidates. Judge for yourselves.