Contact: Brenna Cannon
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ShelterJH endorses housing champions in local election
Local housing advocacy organization ShelterJH announced endorsements for Town Council, County Commission, and Sheriff candidates today.
“This 2018 election is a great reminder that we all need to vote all the way down the ballot – local elections will have a huge impact on our neighbors, especially our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Mary Erickson, ShelterJH board chair.
For the first time, ShelterJH is endorsing housing champions in three local elections. We sent all local candidates a questionnaire about housing; you can read what the candidates who responded said here. Then the ShelterJH board met, with input from active members, and discussed all candidates based on their answers to the questions and what we know of their public actions for housing. Our criteria included our judgement of their commitment to affordable housing in general; their commitment to our most vulnerable neighbors in particular; their likely effectiveness; and their alignment with our policy priorities such as tenant protections and sustainable public funding for housing ⅔ of our community.
It was not easy to pick only two of the four candidates for Town Council. All four have promised action on housing our workforce, and Don Frank is an incumbent who has been a part of good decisions over the last few years – we are grateful for those actions, but given the gravity of our housing crisis, we need the Council to go beyond good work to truly outstanding work and new levels of leadership. In the end, it was clear that two candidates are truly focused on housing as a core priority. As a housing organization, our mission is to identify leaders who will prioritize solving our housing crisis – especially for our lower-income community members.
Jessica Chambers has demonstrated a personal and public commitment to housing, especially those most in need. As she wrote in her response to our questionnaire: “We need public investments in human services, child care and early education, and housing. We need a livable wage for workers… Overall, I will make decisions based on the best interests of the working people in Jackson with regard to housing and beyond.”
Arne Jorgensen has been a housing leader for 30 years. He was a founder of the Housing Trust and has been involved in countless housing initiatives over the years. He wrote, “if elected to serve on the Jackson Town Council I will encourage my fellow Councilors to dedicate the resources necessary until measurable progress on this issue is made; until this issue is truly prioritized, it will continue to fall by the wayside. It has become more and more clear to me that we will not be successful without being willing to invest in real solutions.”
Both Jessica & Arne have expressed a clear commitment to prioritizing housing, including through density in town, new public funding, and creative uses of town-owned land.
We found the County Commission candidates represented a greater range of focus on affordable housing: some candidates are clearly committed to housing our workforce, while others have other priorities. Some say they believe in affordable housing but also believe the “free market” will provide it, and refuse to consider public funding – showing a clear lack of understanding of our local conditions. Although you can vote for up to three candidates, we have identified two housing champions: Seadar Rose Davis and Luther Propst.
Seadar Rose Davis is committed to using public resources for working-class people. In her answers to our questionnaire, in addition to expressing her openness to a variety of housing strategies, she stated: “I will strongly fight to improve access to affordable and safe child care, for robust public health services, and for strong partnerships with our human services sector.“
Luther Propst has a career’s worth of experience working with Western small town communities, trying to balance economic growth with familiar community values like open space protection, and – most important for us – providing ample housing for people who work there. Luther wrote that some of his principles include: “Focus on both supply and demand. In 2017, Teton County experienced 3.5% job growth; at that rate, the number of jobs doubles in 20 years. That rate of growth compromises the vision of Teton County’s comprehensive plans, our community values and character, and our wildlife. Prioritize providing the full range of affordable housing, including rentals, rather than land use changes that create more demand for housing. Foster housing partnerships among local governments, employers, landowners, lenders, and both private and non-profit developers.“
We believe Seadar and Luther will be the strongest voices for affordable housing on the county commission.
We also invited candidates for Teton County Sheriff to answer our questionnaire and tell us why they would be the best candidate for housing and for our working and middle classes. As a large employer, the sheriff directly influences housing critical service providers in their department. The sheriff also sets policy and practices related to protecting and serving our most vulnerable community members. We believe Matt Carr has a proven history, and ongoing commitment, to leading our law enforcement from a humane and solutions-oriented perspective.
These are our endorsements. We encourage you to research and meet the candidates, and most of all – remember to vote!
ShelterJH builds political power so that all our workers can have secure housing in Jackson Hole. We are a membership organization created by Jackson’s middle-class and working-class workers. We are especially focused on solutions for our neighbors living with the most housing insecurity. As a 501(c)4 nonprofit instead of the typical 501(c)3, we can endorse, oppose, and support candidates – and help get and keep great housing champions in office. Join us: www.shelterjh.org