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Democrats seeking county seats dig into local issues

August 12, 2018

Four Democratic candidates seeking office as Teton County commissioners shared views on everything from mental health to how to spend tax dollars during a forum Wednesday at Teton County Library.

Only the Democratic commission candidates face competition in the Aug. 21 primary. Three of the four will advance to the general election where six candidates will compete for three seats on the board.

Republicans Mary Martin, Mark Barron and Andrew Byron will all be on the general election ballot Nov. 6.

The candidates had varying priorities for how to spend money raised through a specific purpose excise tax — a one penny tax that voters approve directly based on specific projects.

When asked to give an example of a SPET project he’d like to see on a future ballot, incumbent board Chairman Mark Newcomb listed three — wildlife crossings, the rec center and workforce housing. Luther Propst, who has a background in land-use planning and conservation, said he’d like to see a Conservation Action Plan funded, which could lend support for wildlife crossings or a bank that could be used to purchase development rights.

Businessman and engineer Dick Aurelio said he’d propose SPET projects to pay for a transportation center at the Stilson lot and to expand the transportation center at the START bus barn.

Likewise, musician and web developer Seadar Rose-Davis, who serves on the START Board, said she’d support START initiatives like a maintenance facility. She said she’d also support measures for wildlife crossings and affordable housing.

When asked how they’d enhance mental health care, Rose-Davis teared up during her response.

“We can do more,” she said. “We should be doing more. We need to be there for people. We need be stepping up when the state is stepping down.”

Aurelio agreed that more efforts are needed. Propst emphasized consistent funding from county and private sources. He also said there needs to be a clear vision for mental health needs.

Newcomb emphasized public-private partnerships and said funding needs to be consistent to support the nonprofit network. “I think we have more work to do there, to be honest,” he said.

Read more about the candidates’ positions online at the Jackson Hole News&Guide’s tweet stream. Pick up the News&Guide’s special primary election section Aug. 15 for full coverage of Wyoming primary races.

— Deputy Editor Melissa Cassutt contributed to this report.

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