Get to know your town and county candidates!

Ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 election we caught up with Teton County Commission and Jackson Town Council candidates to find out who they are, their priorities – and the most important question – how they feel about pathways.

Read on to inform your vote!

County Commission Candidates, three open seats:

Luther Propst (Incumbent), Mark Newcomb (incumbent), Tom Segerstrom, Wes Gardner, Peter Long, Brenden Cronin, Kasey Mateosky


Please tell us who you are and your top two priorities for your first year if you get elected.

Luther Propst: I am serving my first term on the county commission and am running for re-election.  My top priorities are: (1) protecting our community and valley from too much poorly-managed growth; and (2) catalyzing workforce housing. This means that we should do more to protect wildlife, water quality, and our mountain town quality life.  It means that we should prioritize building permanently deed-restricted housing for the people who make this place a community and better managing creation of new jobs, new hotels, and luxury housing – which only worsens our workforce housing crisis. Finally, it means that we should strive to create a balanced transportation system with improved opportunities to walk and ride a bicycle and improved transit (in-town, north and south of town, between town and Teton Village, and between our valley and the neighboring communities of Victor, Driggs, and Alpine).

Mark Newcomb: A top priority would be to work on workforce housing, largely focused on the Northern South Park effort to zone land in order to accommodate up to 1,300 units or more of deed restricted workforce housing. Ensuring that all the new housing would be served by pathways and full access to alternative means of transportation is a critical part of that effort that I would push for. A second priority would be to ensure the timely completion of all the vital pathway and transit projects in the suite of highway 22/390 corridor alternative transportation BUILD grant effort (Stilson transit center, Wilson to 390/22 intersection pathway, underpasses, new busses and more). Those projects are funded by $25 million dollars of federal grant funding, but voting for the transportation alternative SPET item would help ensure their timely completion. It’s a tight timeline that will need diligent management.

Tom Segerstrom: I came to Jackson in 1987 to Jackson to pioneer the wildlife ecotourism industry. After selling my company I worked for the Land Trust and the Teton Conservation District. In my first year I will work to: 1) balance commercial growth with our local workforce and ecological capacities and 2) resume the update of the Natural Resource Protection, Land Development Regulations.

Wes Gardner: I am Wes Gardner- a 25-year resident, business owner (Teton Toys), husband, and father, and this is my third campaign for Teton County Commissioner. My top two priorities are housing and traffic, and they are tied together. If we expect to house our working folks and retirees, we must efficiently build truly affordable residential projects. If we expect more people to get out of their cars, we need more frequent and efficient bus service with schedules that make sense for our workforce and funding mechanisms that allow commuting employees to ride for free.

Peter Long: I am running to be a voice for our working class, and to ensure Teton County remains a place that our children and future generations can call home. (1) With your support, I will work to create a small business and worker health insurance plan, which will make healthcare coverage and childcare more affordable and more accessible. This model has reduced costs by as much as 50% or more in similar communities. (2) I will fight to reduce property taxes locally, provide greater access to relief funds and work with state partners to cap annual increases. Property taxes have become a crisis in Teton County, forcing families to sell their homes and driving up rents for our most vulnerable residents.

Brenden Cronin did not respond in time for publication.

Kasey Mateosky did not respond in time for publication.

What is your favorite section of pathway and why?

Luther Propst: Picking my favorite section of pathway is like having to pick your favorite child or favorite bicycle! Perhaps it’s the stretch I most often ride – between home in West Jackson and downtown, especially the stretch between the Post Office and Smiths.  Riding home on this stretch after a commission meeting is pure therapy. From a broader perspective, the reach that connects Wilson and Albertson’s along highway 22 is an amazing community asset. For pure inspiration, you can’t beat the stretch between Taggard Lake and Jenny Lake in the park.

Mark Newcomb: Living in Kelly, I love the pathway north of town along the refuge. It’s incredibly scenic and fun to ride. But I frequently use the Garaman pathway for essential errands between east and west Jackson and very much appreciate that pathway as well.

Tom Segerstom: My favorite reach of pathway is the South Park Loop because of the cathedral of mature cottonwoods trees without being in a riparian corrido

Wes Gardner: When I first moved to Jackson, I lived in the Elk Run and Jackson Village Apartments. I love the section of the bike path behind those developments, and I’m not alone. Most evenings that stretch comes alive as the community enjoys the presence of the creek and each other. At the other end of the walk, you can’t beat Russ Garaman Park for some restoration to escape the bustle of Jackson.

Peter Long: I love the section of Pathway through Grand Teton National Park. My wife and I have spent a lot of time on that stretch with our three-year-old son, and it adds value for residents and tourists alike to be able to ditch their vehicles when visiting the Park

Brenden Cronin did not respond in time for publication.

Kasey Mateosky did not respond in time for publication.

If you could improve or add miles to the current pathway network in the County where or what improvement would that be and why?

Luther Propst: A gravel pathway parallel to the National Elk Refuge Road from the east end of Broadway past the Miller Cabin to Twin Creek Ranch Road.  I am pleased that the National Elk Refuge and the county recently initiated an environmental analysis for evaluating adding this proposed stretch to the pathway system.  This would provide a convenient – and much safer – opportunity for people who work at the hospital or downtown or who live in East Jackson to walk, run or bicycle beside of rather than on the Elk Refuge Road.

Mark Newcomb: I know it would be expensive and hard to do, but I would love to see a pathway from the Broadway/highway 22 intersection (the “Y”) along the west side of Broadway linking up to a new section of pathway along northern South Park loop (maybe on the south side) and possibly extending to the pathway between the schools and the post office.

Tom Segerstrom: The completion of the Wilson to Stilson Pathway in coordination with the Highway 22 Corridor construction will be a welcome addition to the Pathway System.

 Wes Gardner: First, let’s applaud and appreciate the amazing Pathway network that you have built for our community. Now, if I had unlimited funds, I would continue north from Jenny Lake up to Moran and then circle back to Moose down highway 89. Cheaper, and in my opinion higher priority, projects focus on our in-town network. We need to build a clear network of strategically connected routes through town, and protect the riders using those routes. Once pathways are an integrated part of the in-town people-moving experience, I expect bike ridership to soar.

Peter Long: Selfishly, I would love to extend the Pathways System further north to connect Moran (where my family and I live). Realistically, I believe the greatest benefit is working with residential neighborhoods, like Rafter J and East Jackson, to make our Pathways more accessible and easier to use. Especially as e-bikes, one-wheels and other innovative forms of transportation become more popular, I would like to ensure the “rules of the Pathway” are adequate, and continue to work with Friends of Pathways to educate users and improve compliance—to ensure our Pathways remain safe for all types of use.

Brenden Cronin did not respond in time for publication.

Kasey Mateosky did not respond in time for publication.

Town Council Candidates, two open seats:

Arne Jorgensen (incumbent), Devon Viehman, Katherine Rueckert, Jonathan Schechter (incumbent)

Please tell us who you are and your top two priorities for your first year if you get elected.

Arne Jorgensen: (1) Continue to focus on increasing stable housing opportunities to a much wider range of our community. (2) Continue to focus on stabilizing, and increasing transparency, of the Town of Jackson Budget process thus allowing the Town to continue to provide high quality Core Services and appropriately invest in our community priorities of Housing, Transportation, Conservation, and Health and Human Services.

Devon Viehman: My name is Devon Viehman, and like many of you, I am frustrated with the lack of urgency and action with our current council, which is why I’m running for Town Council. Priority number one: working to change our zoning and LDRs so that affordable & workforce housing are a top priority. Number two: enacting a climate action plan; we need to start making all of our decisions with that plan as a guide

Katherine Rueckert: I live & work in Jackson – as a renter, I’ve seen how the consistent increase in living costs pushes home ownership further & further out of reach, and how your government is trying to redefine Jackson’s local character. My top two priorities revolve around reining in your local government. Your current elected officials see the Rodeo & Fairgrounds as a chunk of land they can carve away at, and, based on their projected budget for 2023, they see the community members as a checkbook to pay for their $8.3 million-dollar overspending. I’d like to preserve the Rodeo & Fairgrounds since they reflect our western heritage, and cut spending & taxes (via the mill levy) to help keep money in your pocket.

Jonathan Schechter: I am a Jackson Town Council member, seeking reelection to a second four year term. I have lived in Jackson Hole for 35 years, served our community in a variety of roles for 30 years, and spent the past 20+ years studying Jackson Hole and similar communities to help them: 1) better understand themselves, then 2) act on that knowledge to sustain what matters to them.  The focus of this work is what I’ve termed “co-thriving;” i.e., the state in which human communities and the ecosystems around them simultaneously thrive. My top two priorities are to secure the new, dedicated sources of funding we need to adequately address our housing, transportation, and environmental challenges; and to launch an effort to develop meaningful indicators of the health of our ecosystem and community.  Without the former, Jackson Hole will be crushed by the rapid growth and change washing over us; without the latter, we won’t be able to evaluate how effectively we’re sustaining what matters to us.

If you could improve or add miles to the current walking and biking infrastructure in Town where or what improvement would that be and why?

Arne Jorgensen: (1) Continue to invest in the expansion of sidewalks and accessibility projects throughout our community. (2) In order to increase safety at intersections, advocate with WyDoT to change pedestrian crossings at most of the stoplights allowing pedestrians to cross in all directions at the same time. (3) Continue to invest in Safe Routes, including those to the schools in West Jackson. (4) Continue to work to provide for pedestrian and biking transparency of the large blocks that make up much of our town along West Broadway from Gregory Lane to Karns Meadow.

Devon Viehman: The paths are becoming more congested with e-bikes and many want to see them regulated, which I agree on some points, but the crowding shows that we need to expand our pathways! Karns Meadow is a longtime in the making and that would be a great place to start! Pairing that with a new through town connector would be great. Biking on South Park Loop Rd is very hazardous and could be improved.

Katherine Rueckert: Generally, I would support any pathway improvement that falls within the pathway’s budget and doesn’t impede vehicular traffic and/or parking. To be specific, since I work on Gregory Lane, I would love to see improvements that encourage kids (and adults) to utilize the pathway system to get to the schools located on High School Road. Please note, this does not mean I support adding a sidewalk system to Gregory Lane – I would like to simply improve access to the existing pathway structure.

Due to an editorial error, we failed to ask Jonathan Schechter where he thinks the pathways could be improved and instead asked him: What is your favorite section of pathway and why?

Jonathan Schechter: No brainer.  The stretch between High School Butte and Highway 22.  This is my neighborhood pathway, and I’ve walked and ridden on it literally thousands of times. Whenever I can hold meetings on the phone, I jump on the pathway – sometimes multiple times/day.   Those are the best kind of meetings because, no matter how complex the conversation, the views of the mountains, the Science Schools’ open space, and the people happy to be out the pathway reminds me of why we’re all here and what really matters.

What do you think about the Willow Street Safe Routes project? 

Arne Jorgensen: I am proud to have supported the compromise that led to this project over this past season. I also look forward to the discussions that the Council will have about continuing the project for next year. This discussion will include a review of the successful provision of a safe north-south corridor through town as well as impacts to our parking availability and vehicle circulation. I fully expect this will be a respectful fact-based discussion and not one based on over inflated parking counts or an unawareness of impacts related to the project.

Devon Viehman: Safety of our children is paramount and it is important they have safe routes to and from school. Now that the routes down Snow King & Willow have been established, we can give that some time before adding more in that part of town. Small businesses downtown have expressed that it has hurt parking and their business. We need to learn more about these impacts before adding anymore routes like this near downtown.

Katherine Rueckert: I do not support this project – not because I don’t support “safe routes”, but because I do not support the bollards that eliminated almost 200 parking spots along Willow Street. This impedes access to the business along that street, and to your Town & County Administration Buildings. Also, I see kids weaving in and out of the bollards… and adults ignoring stop signs on their bikes… to me, these do not reflect increased safety measures, they’ve just added other hazards for drivers to watch out for.

Jonathan Schechter:  It’s great. I went over to Willow the day the project debuted.  Within the first few minutes I saw bicyclists of all ages, parents jogging with baby strollers and even two horses walking abreast.  None of whom had to worry about traffic. When I voted in favor of the project, I insisted that we develop success criteria and metrics (I do this a lot).  That way we can figure out how to make it better, reduce effects on neighbors, etc.  I look forward to learning about how well the project’s working and hearing staff’s suggestions for improving it (and all our pathways).