REDNECK PERSPECTIVE: Sleaze-less campaign disappointing

By on October 29, 2014

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – This is unequivocally the most dreary election I have seen in Teton County. Where’s the mud, the sleaze, even a difference of opinion? Controversy sells papers and the candidates have let down The Planet and the News&Guide. Have they no interest economically supporting the Fourth Estate?

In this year’s mayoral race the closest thing we have to a scandal is candidate Sara Flitner, owner of Flitner Strategies, denying the vile accusation that she is a PR person, despite her website saying that she specializes in communication strategy and messaging. Flitner said people have called her a PR consultant for 20 years and it’s time to set the record straight. “I’m a collaborative problem solver,” she explained. Why not? After all, garbage men are now “sanitation engineers” and real estate salesman sell “lifestyles.”

Flitner wants to be mayor and spent almost $20,000 on the primary alone. She thinks traffic jams are a “high-class problem.” Her opponent, Mark Nowlin, doesn’t really want to be mayor but thought it would be fun to run. He thinks traffic jams are caused by too many cars and that we if we all stopped driving there would be no traffic jams. Talk about a collaborative problem solver! The only other difference between the candidates is that Nowlin is retired, but at least he knows what he does for a living.

In this year’s coroner’s race Russell Nelson is running on his Master’s Certificate in Forensics, his Doctorate in Anthropology, his work with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team during the Katrina disaster and his work as a consultant to the Pima County Ariz., Office of the Medical Examiner. His opponent, Dr. Brent Blue, ran an ad explaining Nelson’s qualifications are unnecessary for a coroner. Blue’s bold strategy of proclaiming that his opponent is overqualified is a political first in Teton County.

Most Republicans are being polite this political season. Of course in many races they are not being challenged or at least not seriously challenged, but really, I expect better from them. Where is the “liberal!” “Obama supporter!” “America hater!” name calling that the rest of the country’s newspapers get to write about?

The Democrats are starting to attack. In a short editorial in the News&Guide, Natalia Macker, running as a Democrat against incumbent right-wing Republican Marti Halverson for House District 22, used the word extreme, extremist or extremism a total of 11 times when describing her opponent. I think that’s a little extreme. We already know about Halverson: What about Macker? She ended her editorial with a plea to “Vote for the middle of the road.” Now that’s a sound bite to get passionate about!

The Teton Democratic Party is running an ad accusing the Republican county commissioner candidates of taking campaign donations from Tea Party members. That’s it. No sex, no bribes, nothing remotely juicy. Doesn’t anyone have affairs with aides anymore?

The local Tea Party has been a huge disappointment for columnists. They have hosted speakers, sponsored political debates and opposed the SPET projects in the August primary. Whoop de doo! Where is the self-righteous rage, the accusations that everyone else is un-American, the Sarah Palin-Rush Limbaugh hatred and division of America into two camps based on politics, the intolerance that makes such good copy? Can’t the national Tea Party pull their charter if they don’t step up their game?

Hoping to hear some partisan rage, accusations, and indignation, I asked different segments of society their opinion on the election and to describe important issues. I tried high-class places like the Juice Store, the Bagel Shop and a traffic jam. I assumed major concerns would be Jackson’s limited sushi options, (only six sushi restaurants and three grocery stores sell sushi in the local restaurant ecosystem), support for sustainable yogurt production and more room for SUV parking at the recycle center.

I tried low-class places like The Virginian Saloon, the Budweiser section at Smith’s and all of Hoback Junction. I assumed major concerns would be the unavailability of ammo, the lack of a local strip bar, and bacon prices. But all anyone talked about was making a living, traffic, housing and the Budge Slide. Bor-ing! I wish someone would support legalizing pot, plural marriage, or lowering the drinking age to 15, something we could get excited about.

The only race remotely entertaining is for hospital board. The super PAC, Our Best Medical Center – well OK, maybe not a super PAC – is running ads urging voters to elect anyone but Susan Crosser, who would “weaken your hospital with negative grudges or agendas.”

Crosser claims the decision by trustees in 2012 to pay Pam Maples $25,000 a month for consulting services she didn’t provide was not in the best interest of the public. What a narrow perspective. Crosser explains that she has no agenda, no grudge; she just does not like “dishonest people,” implying current board members fit the mold of people she does not like.

Ms. Crosser comes across as someone who is more bitter than helpful. She is in need of an image update. Perhaps she should hire Flitner Strategies to not provide a non-PR makeover.

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