THE BUZZ: The long list

By on July 21, 2015

A string of Dems line up for a shot at Turley’s seat

Candidate Pete Muldoon has garnered robust community support after announcing his intent for Turley’s seat on Thursday. (Photo: David Swift)

Candidate Pete Muldoon has garnered robust community support after announcing his intent for Turley’s seat on Thursday. (Photo: David Swift)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Replacing Melissa Turley on the Board of County Commissioners will be an insightful exercise into all things politics. The process will reveal some strategy planning aspects of county Democratic party leadership, overall strength of its candidate pool, and most of all, how committed current commissioners are to the status quo or the “flatus blow.”

The current field of 15 includes a good mix of civic leaders, nonpoliticians and nobodies. To effect change, and that seems to be the popular opinion, a nonpolitician like Pete Muldoon, Natalia Macker or Jim Fulmer would be the way to go but would the four seated commissioners opt for a maverick? Smokey Rhea might. Mark Newcomb might. But Paul Vogelheim and Barbara Allen would likely vote in someone who plays well with others.

Macker, or Muldoon, who gleaned an enthusiastic online response from citizens after announcing his candidacy Thursday, probably have the best chance of winning a general election. They are popular with voters and, especially in Muldoon’s case, promise to be the bee in BCC bonnet. But that nonconformist posture will require the current commissioners to be willing to rock the boat.

Mark Nowlin (who almost beat out Sara Flitner for mayor) and Paul Duncker (who spent years on the county planning commission) might be safe choices. Will the Democratic party provide the BCC with a list of traditionalist candidates or are fresh names more likely to rock the boat? A mixture of both in the three they choose to nominate will probably guarantee the innocuous candidate gets in.

Who’s who

Fifteen names have been officially submitted to leaders of the Teton County Democrats so far. They include Linda Aurelio, Len Carlman, Yves Desgouttes, Joe Diprisco, Paul Duncker, Greg Epstein, Jim Fulmer, Keith Harger, Chris Leigh, Natalia Duncan Macker, Pete Muldoon, Mark Nowlin, Phoebe Stoner, Tenley Thompson and David Vandenberg.

Linda Aurelio is on the Open Space Council for the Jackson Hole Land Trust. She was appointed to the St. John’s Hospital Foundation’s board of directors in January of this year.

Carlman is the executive director of the Snake River Fund. He was a partner in the Jackson law firm Hess Carlman D’Amours for many years. He also made a failed bid at the House District 16 seat in 2010.

Desgouttes is a valley real estate agent. He was quoted in Allen Best’s Mountain Town News last year as saying he expects Latinos to flourish in Jackson Hole. They have risen from the jobs that nobody else wants to some of their children graduating from college, “because most of them have more family loyalty than we have,” he said.

Diprisco was the food services director for Teton County School District No. 1 until a few months ago. He has made no previous foray into politics.

Epstein is a producer at Teton Gravity Research. His Facebook page is chock-full of important social concerns facing the local and global community.

Harger is a longtime valley resident and architect. He was on the team that designed the Pine Glades development at the base of Snow King.

Leigh is a criminal law attorney and was appointed to a part-time position with the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office last summer.

Stoner is a member of the Parks and Recreation board. She is the naturalist program director at Spring Creek Ranch.

Thompson is a resort biologist at Four Seasons Resort. She is also a professional photographer.

Vandenberg is a real estate broker who also sits on the Jackson Planning and Zoning Commission. He once served as director of Friends of Pathways.

Who’s best?

It’s a difficult time to be replacing a commissioner. County and town leaders are nearing the finalization of the new Comp Plan. That would suggest a career politician might be more suitable. Still, a growing distrust and disgust with the recent bureaucratic blunders and ignorance of a housing crisis in the valley increases Muldoon’s stock significantly despite his lack of political pedigree.

Who will play it safer – the BCC or the county donkeys? Democratic party leaders have admitted they are most interested in a candidate who will not only stick around after serving out Turley’s term, which is up at the end of next year, but one who is most likely to win an election to get appointed.

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