Jessica Chambers, a national committeewoman for the Democratic National Committee, chairwoman of the progressive caucus in the Wyoming Democratic Party and a part-time preschool teacher, announced during the Wyoming Democratic Convention on Saturday that she will run for Town Council.
Chambers ran in the 2016 election, narrowly defeating Anne Schuler in the primary to remain in the general election, ultimately coming in fourth with 1,613 votes.
“During the last election, I was a newcomer and told I wouldn’t get anywhere because you have to live here for a long time to get past the primary and win a seat,” she said. “But I was a very vocal progressive and I was unapologetic about that. And though I didn’t succeed in getting the seat because I was running against two incumbents who have lived here for 30 years, that message spoke to people. I got 1,600 votes.”
Despite losing in 2016, Chambers stayed engaged with the issues facing local and state governments.
In conjunction with additional campaign training, Chambers believes she can build off her experience from her last run and win Councilman Bob Lenz’s vacant seat this year.
She said she has polished her public speaking skills and campaign strategies over the last two years, but her platform will not change much. Her primary issues are affordable housing, expanding the local economy and increasing government funding for public transportation and social services.
To accomplish those goals, she suggested the town consider enacting property taxes, further increasing density throughout town, raising the minimum wage and potentially increasing the lodging tax.
“Now is not the time to be rejecting revenue opportunities,” she said. “These are sacrifices for the entire community, instead of just a small group of the community. And, ultimately, it’s beneficial for everybody: The community gets stronger, the economy gets stronger. It’s a win-win.”
Though many of her proposals are tough sells in Wyoming, she believes her type of populist proposals are becoming more accepted as Teton County grows more liberal.
“The county is pretty solidly blue. We have more registered Dems than Republicans,” she said. “That speaks to this shift. I think people aren’t interested in going towards the center; they’re interested in taking care of people and making sure that the people who work here have a livable wage, have time with their families and that they can invest in their community not just by investing in property, but just by being here.”
Though official election filings will not be accepted until May 11, Zach Padilla and Councilman Don Frank have also announced that they will run for the two open council seats this fall.
Contact John Spina at 732-5911, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JHNGtown.
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