Election 2020

ShelterJH Candidate Questionnaire: Mayor of Jackson

There’s a lot of talk about new development in Northern South Park providing homes that local workers can afford. What is your vision for Northern South Park? What income levels and kinds of workers should be able to afford the homes, and what price point serves those income levels? How can our community make sure the homes actually reach those local workers?

  • Michael Kudar: By working together instead of by working apart. Look, Shelter JH has a unique opportunity to be part of a positive process and a positive solution. Your board members have experience and certainly through Mary Erikson’s leadership, you have demonstrated compassion and love. I think you should direct that to a working relationship for private public-partnerships. There is not enough government money to pay for housing all of our needs. Unless you want to impose new taxes that make Teton County even more unaffordable. We all need to be part of the solutions. Coming together. The northern part of Northern South Park should be as the Comp Plan 5.6 designates. As for price, let’s all help to innovate ways to make them as affordable as they can be. We can be optimistic. We can be diligent. We can be innovative. But saying no and criticizing from the beginning — that is not the best way. The question is, How can we join together and make these as affordable as possible? Anyone who wants to join me in that effort — I look forward to that collective, positive focus.
  • Hailey Morton-Levinson: I see a Northern South Park that houses the many different parts of our community, goes through a neighborhood design process and the community weighs in on what they would like to see. This will be the largest development for the foreseeable future. Taking the time to get it right does not mean dragging out the process or making it take too long but rather giving the opportunity for the community to weigh in. Ideally homes would be deed restricted at varying degrees to reflect the needs of the community. Recognizing that this area is privately owned, makes it imperative to work together so that we can work on the vision together.

COVID-19 has created a huge threat to our community’s health, and this threat is sharpest to lower-income and working-class community members. Local human service agencies have already provided rent assistance to hundreds of families who have never asked for help before and are struggling to keep up with the need. The disadvantaged in our community are struggling, choosing between paying rent and buying food and putting themselves and their family members at risk providing front line services. Especially as federal benefits decrease, many community members and families will face eviction and increased health risks. Other communities have enacted tenant protections like eviction moratoriums and even rent cancellation. How would you protect our community members?

  • Michael Kudar: First I want to commend one of our community heroes out there, ONE22. Raising millions of dollars to provide rental assistance for families in need due to circumstances due to the COVID… And to those who donated behind this cause, a humble thank you. As your mayor, my plan is to make sure our communication department is working hard with local and state organizations to make sure every unemployed and underemployed adult resident and business who has employees on unemployment are knowledgeable about the local and state resources available to help them through these times such as the assistance from the WY Community Development Authority where residents can apply for up to $2,000 toward shortfalls in rents. The more resources we can share with the residents and businesses, the more safe and protected we can be.Another available resource to mention, the Adult Education Grant Program for grants to pay for education at Jackson’s Central Wyoming College, colleges throughout the state, and the University of Wyoming. Let’s work together to support continuing education for those that have the time and desire to do so.
  • Hailey Morton-Levinson: I will continue to work with local and state organizations to make sure we don’t have community members out on the streets. Locally, we have been able to provide emergency and long term housing during this crisis. We will have to continue to work at this as funds become available or not. Tapping into private, philanthropic, and public funds will be how we get through. Additionally, if a general penny is passed in November, I will focus funds on helping with long term recovering from this crisis.

In recent budgeting processes even very modest amounts requested by the Housing Department and the community were not funded. We continue to lose ground on achieving our housing goals established in the Comprehensive Plan. Without additional and secure funding we will continue on this trend, diminishing the level of service to our visitors, decreasing the quality of life for locals, increasing social service costs, and decreasing education, health and financial outcomes of many of your constituents. How would you propose we obtain a permanent and dedicated/restricted source of revenue to provide safe, secure and affordable places to live for our local workers?

  • Michael Kudar: Let me say this, if the local government tries to build all the workforce housing, it will cost more and take longer to build and we will never get the supply this town and community needs. I am ready to work together to create affordable deed restricted workforce housing in partnership with the private sector.In the event the 1% tax does pass, with the help of the Housing Authority, Housing Trust, & Habitat for Humanity, we will determine where to best appropriate this new revenue source for a needed stable funding source. I definitely will support a stronger, more leveraged budget for Deed Restricted Housing if the 1% tax passes. I will also support private-public partnerships designed to achieve roofs rather than not.
  • Hailey Morton-Levinson: My experience as a town councilor has shown me that no amount of zoning, incentives, or mitigation alone will solve our housing crisis. Using all all of the tools will help and that includes steady funding. As our town revenues stand now, we do not have enough funds to make the kind of progress we want to see in housing our community. I support dedicated funding whether that’s through a general penny, or otherwise.