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PULSE ON POLITICS: Town candidates sound off
PJH: Does the town need to do more to provide sidewalks, pathways and alternate avenues for non-motorized travel?
Geneva Chong (mayor): Yes, there is always room for improvement. As areas are developed access should be completed whether sidewalks, bike lanes, or planning for bus movement. I would like to see particular investment in effort in Safe Streets to Schools.
Sara Flitner (mayor): Safety is a fundamental priority for town government, which means ensuring people can get around town on foot or bicycle without risking life and limb. As a frequent walker and biker, I applaud the efforts of local leaders, from nonprofits to current elected officials, who have worked to connect us with safe ways to connect with each other.
Mark Nowlin (mayor): Complete streets and pathways are an ongoing effort of the town, which I support.
Don Frank (council): We need to incrementally increase pedestrian safety and access while we encourage and expand other multi-modal pathway alternative uses of every kind. We need to broaden the ranks of pathways users and optimize how our paved thoroughfares can be leveraged toward even greater utilization.
John Stennis (council): Providing sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes and public transportation are all important to our community. This infrastructure keeps people safe, is good for our economy, and good for tourists, while the reduction of vehicular traffic is also beneficial for our wildlife. I look forward to seeing the recommendations that come out of the Complete Streets Action Plan the town is currently working on.
PJH: START Bus. Too big, too small, just right?
Geneva Chong (mayor): START is a great resource that I think can continue to be improved regarding routes, schedules, and equipment.
Sara Flitner (mayor): Riding the bus to Teton Village during ski season used to be a lonely affair. Now, I am happy if my boys and I get a seat. Our roads are maxed, and we need more people in buses and out of cars if we are to maintain the roads that fit our community character. So I’d like to see continued expansion of bus service and routes, with a special effort to match our fleet with growing demand in neighborhoods. Specifically, that means smaller, quieter buses that don’t clog neighborhood streets and irk the neighbors. We also have to focus on our commuter routes. Our workforce is stressed and pressured, and so are the small business owners for whom they work. We need to invest in better connections for the folks that make Jackson work.
Mark Nowlin (mayor): START Bus is a major element of the transportation plan. As ridership increases or shifts so should the opportunities to redefine service levels.
Don Frank (council): Our community has asked for multi-modal alternative transit. START is a success story now serving over 900,000 riders a year. The challenge is to entice every-day single-occupant automobile drivers on ordinary trips to choose bus or alternatives more often. We continue to invest more resources into mass transit and multi-modal options for very good purposes. The best return on these community building investments require that we leverage these assets. Like everything in life solutions to difficult problems involve tradeoffs. Less vehicle congestion may mean more buses on town streets and county roads.
John Stennis (council): START is at a good size and it is important to continue to support our public transportation, which serves 850,000 riders, annually, and reduces carbon emissions by 1.8 million pounds.
PJH: Rodeo grounds. Stay where it is? Move to the outskirts of town?
Geneva Chong (mayor): I like having the rodeo in town, but I think the site potential is not close to being achieved. I think this is an active location/resource for town/county collaboration in the future.
Sara Flitner (mayor): I have seen both work, but part of what makes us different from lots of other places with less personality is the heritage that includes cowboys, early settlers, and our Western traditions. We need to make sure we don’t let that fade. Our visitors, who tell us in visitor surveys that the Western heritage is a draw, can easily find and often walk to the rodeo from downtown hotels. That helps our transportation goals, too.
Mark Nowlin (mayor): The rodeo grounds were placed with the view that visitors could walk to the rodeo from downtown lodging. Moving them was explored about 14 years ago but no neighborhood was welcoming. And to move them would be counterproductive to the transportation efforts.
Don Frank (council): The rodeo grounds work well where they are now. However, moving them one day could conceivably help us with finding places for new workforce housing and other public needs.
John Stennis (council): We have a tourist-based economy so it makes good sense to keep it within town limits. Tourists going to the rodeo also support our downtown restaurants and shops.