Pinedale Candidate Forum
Candidates for Pinedale Mayor and 2 Town Council Seats
April 21, 2006
The Sublette Group for Community Initiative held a Candidate’s Forum Thursday night featuring the four candidates for Pinedale Town Mayor and six hopefuls vying for the two open Pinedale Town Council seats. All candidates attended except for Barbara Boyce.
The forum was moderated by Jay Fear. Each candidate was given two minutes to make opening and closing statements. During each round, the candidates were given one minute to respond to a prepared question from the moderator. Later, questions from the audience were written on cards and given to the moderator to pose to each candidate. Audience members did not directly address the candidates in this forum.
Registered voters who are residents living within the city limits of the Town of Pinedale will be able to vote at the polls on Tuesday, March 2nd to cast their ballots in this election. Polls will be open from 8 am until 7 pm at the Pinedale Town Hall.
Below are highlights about each of the candidates and their responses to the questions posed at the Candidate Forum.
MAYOR, TOWN OF PINEDALE:
Miriam Carlson Carlson, 69, is a life-long resident of Pinedale. She has served three terms as Pinedale Mayor and currently serves on the Pinedale Town Council. She currently works as a florist at Faler’s Gift Shop.
Issues of concern: Infrastructure, town shop completion, sewer and water projects, air and water quality.
Carlson favors preserving the small town environment and is reluctant to see high-density housing such as the Keller proposal come to Pinedale. She feels high-density housing is needed, but wants to see units that "fit the community". She believes oil and gas will not be around forever and favors protecting tourism and developing other industries in Pinedale.
Gary Heuck Heuck, 56, is self-employed. He is serving his second term on the Pinedale Town Council.
Issues of concern: Infrastructure, relocation of the Pinedale Post Office, completion of the Pinedale Town Shop, improved county-town cooperation and joint planning.
Heuck said he felt the pros of the current growth vastly outweigh the cons, providing much-needed funds into the community. He said the town needs to pursue more grants to get funds to help with sewer and water infrastructure. He feels the traffic situation will worsen and the county needs to step in and help with a bypass for the traffic. Heuck does not want to see man camps near town and felt high-density housing development projects must be acceptable to the neighbors. He also would like to see the Pinedale Post Office relocated, perhaps to the old BLM building. He felt the Town should get rid of the bonding company on the Town Shop, hire a new contractor, go to court to recover as much money as possible, and get the building done. He also expressed the need for a town building inspector.
Robert E. "Bob" Johnson Johnson, 70, is a retired consulting engineer and has lived in Pinedale for three years.
Issues of concern: Keeping the character and image of Pinedale, town shop, water and sewer projects.
Johnson is a former engineer for JFC Engineers and Surveyors, the engineers for the new town shop and has served as contact between Pinedale and JFC on the town shop project. Issues of concern: Impending growth of the town, infrastructure funding. Johnson is a proponent for limited government and favors leaving development to the private business sector. He favors getting grants to help with town infrastructure. He expressed concerns for preservation of the water quality of Fremont Lake as the town’s water supply, but felt meters are not necessary due to the abundance of water. Johnson favors finding a truck bypass around Pinedale and a law to limit truck traffic during peak hours. He stated he felt we don’t need high-density housing and felt the free market environment would handle the housing needs.
Steve Smith Smith, 35, has lived in Pinedale since 1992 and operates as a fishing guide in the summer and as a school bus driver in the school year.
Issues of concern: Quality of life; improving cooperation between town, county and community.
Smith would like for Pinedale to retain its small town values and find a way to bring affordable housing to the area. He expressed the need to balance preservation with development and to protect clean air and water. He would like to see an economic development committee created to help local businesses. He would like to see the Town explore joint powers with the county and state, along with service agreements to obtain funds to help pay for Town improvements. Smith believes the Town needs to work closely with the county, other towns in the county, the Chamber of Commerce and local tourism. Contact: Citizens for Smith, Box 1865, Pinedale, WY 82941, 307-367-4629, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.smithforpinedale.com.
Erik Ashley Ashley, 41, is a construction manager. He has lived in Pinedale since 1994. This is his second time filing for a town council seat.
Issues of concern: Infrastructure, zoning, services, county shop, public parking, promoting business and tourism.
Ashley stated he believes that economic development is important, but it is not the responsibility of government. He stated less government is better government and private industry should be listened to. Ashley is opposed to revenue increased if they mean more taxes. Government should work within their means, selling bonds for capital improvement projects. He felt traffic in Pinedale was a big issue and a bypass route is needed. Ashley is opposed to high-density housing because it will lower the equity in property values and bring in an "undesirable element" to Pinedale. He said we do not have a housing problem, but rather a wage problem, which would be worked out in the free market. He felt it is not the government’s responsibility to help solve the housing problem. He felt we do not need more rules and should not regulate to solve problems.
Barbara Boyce Boyce is a long-time Pinedale resident and is reapplying for her Town Council seat, which she has held for ten years. Boyce did not attend the Candidate forum.
Robert Brito Brito, 35, has lived in Pinedale for two years. He operates the Sun Dance Motel in Pinedale and is on the Board of Directors of the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce. He currently serves on the Town of Pinedale Planning & Zoning Board.
Issues of concern: Protecting western heritage, wildlife, wilderness, tourism promotion, updating outdated town ordinances, strengthening town infrastructure.
Brito expressed the need to protect wilderness and wildlife and minimize the boom-bust cycle. He felt the Town should not take handouts from the mineral industry. The economic benefit from the current growth means the Town gets more money, but the down side is it also brings in more people, and along with that drugs and a strain on fire and police resources. Brito favored putting in water meters to help the Town collect more money. He also is for getting more federal help as a funding source. He would like to see the Town put in more sidewalks for pedestrian safety and figure out a truck route to help with the heavy truck traffic in town. He feels the Town needs to work with the county, the Chamber of Commerce and tourism. Brito opposes the concept of man camps in Pinedale, and considers the new Haliburton Hotel worse than a man camp because it does not have rules and regulations like other structured man camps for workers. He opposes seeing more housing structures for this purpose in Pinedale. Brito favors more ordinances to control growth and building tourism to prepare for the bust that is sure to come in the oil and gas economy. Contact: PO Box 2145, Pinedale, 307-231-1379.
Anthony (Tony) Fagnant Long-time Pinedale resident Tony Fagnant works as an officer for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
Issues of concern: Traffic, increasing crime.
Fagnant expressed the need for adopting new laws to allow law enforcement to deal with problems related to increased traffic, an issue he is very familiar with as a Highway Patrol officer. He is ready to learn what the issues are and deal with them as they arise. He felt the people already living here shouldn’t be penalized to increase revenue for the growing town and new people should shoulder the costs for new sewer and water growth needs. He disagrees with high-density housing because it will cause the community standards to go down. Fagnant expressed the importance of people working together to solve problems.
Dave Hohl Hohl, 63, is retired from the U.S. Forest Service and has lived in Pinedale off and on for nearly 30 years. He served on the Pinedale Town Council for 7 years, from 1986 to 1993.
Issues of concern: Securing Pinedale’s water rights, continuing infrastructure and upgrades to sewer and water, town growth.
Hohl expressed the need to preserve Fremont Lake, the water supply for the Town of Pinedale. He felt the Town’s role is to provide infrastructure and create an atmosphere that is conducive to business. He said the current growth brings economic prosperity and facilities, but the downside is it also makes things busier, brings more crime and a change of culture. He favors a road bypass around Pinedale as the long-term answer to alleviate the truck traffic on Tyler Avenue. He favors working closely with the county to best manage the area around the Town limits. Hohl felt high-density housing was a way to provide lower-cost housing and prevent sprawl. He said temporary man camps are not appropriate in town and he favors permanent structures like the Haliburton Hotel to house work force. Hohl said the most important thing is to preserve the character of our community, to manage development and keep Pinedale a nice place to live.
Chris House House, 44, works for EnCana Oil & Gas and has lived in Pinedale for eight years.
Issues of concern: Responsible growth, water, streets, infrastructure, creation of a town master plan, affordable housing, improved inter-governmental relationships.
House expressed the need for economic development for the town to grow, but done with a plan in place to control that development. He felt that it is important to have a good working relationship with the mineral industry, but that good relationship holds true with any other industry. All should be treated equally and not have any one singled out. House said he favors “working outside the box” to pursue options and find answers to increase revenue for the Town. He said the truck traffic in town needs to be brought down, but oil and gas industry operators can’t do it all. The towns and county need to work together as a team to solve problems. House said housing is a serious issue. Man camps are not legal in town and he felt high density housing was appropriate in some areas. House said he felt his personal opinion is secondary to the community majority. He feels we are now playing catch up with the current development and we can build the town like we want it with the current boom.
David M. Smith Smith, 37, is a life-long resident of Pinedale. He is self-employed and operates Dave’s Electronics.
Issues of concern: Pinedale’s infrastructure, water, sewer, streets, town shop issues, Pinedale’s long-term growth planning, zoning regulations, Pine Street parking, maintaining the unique character of the community.
Smith said he felt that the Town should guide development, not control it. He said housing is important, but subdivisions that look the same are not good. He likes the small subdivision northwest of town. He favors encouraging the county to use their resources to help solve impact issues. He suggested the county might be able to offer low-interest loans for developers. Smith also favors the concept of a bypass to help solve the traffic problem on Tyler Avenue. He said a bypass south of town over the New Fork was a good option, possibly through the state school section. Smith said he believes the Town needs to increase revenues using fiscal responsibility, good management and planning. He feels people need to get involved and work together to address the changes facing the community. Smith said he feels the area already has plenty of economic development and there is no need to encourage more. What we have already is going too fast. He expressed the need to figure out how to tax the growth and development and profit from it.