The Comp Plan is our blueprint for a sustainable future. Let’s elect leaders who will enforce it.

COVID-19. Economic uncertainty. Sky-high housing costs and skyrocketing property taxes. Traffic jams in October. All against a constant drumbeat of build, build, build.

This is the greatest opportunity of our lives.

I’m running for Teton County Commission to defend the opening words of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan: to “preserve and protect the area’s ecosystem in order to ensure a healthy environment, community and economy for current and future generations.”

I am not alone in my desire to protect it. Nearly 600 survey respondents indicated that, across party lines, regardless of how long people have lived in Teton County, protecting the ecosystem remains our number one priority.

Our community is wise. We know our ecosystem is the foundation of our economy, community character and quality of life.

That’s why we created the Comp Plan. It is our collective understanding of what we know to be true: the health of our community can be no better than the health of the environment in which we reside.

The Comp Plan required deep engagement over the course of multiple years to develop. Its establishment took community members and elected officials who were courageous enough to say no to powerful special interests. In balancing the tension between growth and protection, between the profits of private industry and the reason those profits exist in the first place, we prioritized our long-term interests over short-term gains. As a result, we have a place worth fighting for.

Yet today, our elected officials continue to make concessions to the Comp Plan’s vision. This in turn has contaminated our water, fragmented our habitat, snarled our traffic and exacerbated the need for more housing.

And that was BC—Before COVID.

Now, unable to travel overseas, visitors have descended on Teton County in unprecedented numbers, stressing our natural resources and our infrastructure capacities even more.

Wildfires, stronger storms, urban lockdowns and remote workplaces are creating a population surge as second-home owners and new arrivals make Teton County their full-time residence.

College students who can afford to do so now call Jackson Hole their campus, a hint of the remote higher educational system of the future that may only increase the stress on our limited housing supply.

Today, more than at any juncture in our community’s history, we’re at a tipping point. This summer put an exclamation mark on the dangers of accommodating the never-ending demand for all things Teton County: we’re overtouristed, overdeveloped and overwhelmed. 

The Comp Plan is our vision for a sustainable future. With the right leadership, we can use it to ensure that short-term solutions don’t adversely impact the longterm wellbeing of our community.

And now, in the midst of the greatest crisis of our lives, is the time to make sure that leadership is in place. 

Past pandemics have ushered in seismic social change. The Black Plague created the conditions for the rise of the Rennaissance. The Spanish Flu gave us the foundations of our social welfare net and our modern health care system. 

How will we respond to our generation’s pandemic? Will we harness it to build the community of our dreams? Or will we let it reduce us to a place no longer worthy of the mantle “The Crucible of Conservation?”

If you honor me with your vote, I will be the Comp Plan’s champion. We’re always going to grow, but I will work with developers to provide a transparent understanding of what is and is not permitted, and strive to increase their efficiency, effectiveness and profits without adversely impacting our collective wellbeing. I will help delineate expectations, which will lower risks for all stakeholders. Most important, I will be a tireless advocate for the protection of our golden goose.

The reason we have a place worth fighting for is the direct result of past generations who were so inspired by the singular nature of this place that they rose to the occasion to protect it. Doing so was never easy, but again and again, they rallied to defend the foundation and wellspring of everything we now take for granted.

The demands to live and visit here will only grow. The Comp Plan is designed to protect the reason those demands exist in the first place. To enforce it, we need to elect candidates who are committed to its vision and willing to fight to uphold it.

I’m running for County Commissioner to do so. 

Long-term vision, and leadership strong enough to implement it, has never been more important. If you care about the future of our valley and our quality of life, give me your vote and we’ll keep Teton County a community worth fighting for.

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@ 2020 Christian Beckwith for Teton County Commissioner.