HOBACK BASIN – With nine candidates – one the favored incumbent – politely poised to joust their way into two seats on the Sublette Board of County Commissioners, and with many of the rural voters disgruntled at the current board’s approval of a billionaire’s resort on Upper Hoback Road, it was not surprising that eight of nine turned up for Bondurant’s July 11 forum.
It was not recorded or live-streamed; the wider public was invited.
The eight were seated at tables set up across the interior of the Bondurant Battalion Fire Hall – Mack Bradley of Marbleton, Lynn Bernard of Pinedale, Bob Jones of Pinedale, Jim Brost of Pinedale, incumbent Doug Vickrey, Andrew Zook of Pinedale, Robin Schamber of Pinedale and Tyler Maxfield of Big Piney.
About 40 people, including forum current commissioners Tom Noble, Sam White, Joel Bousman and Dave Stephens, also brought their own chairs to attend the voter education event with the hall’s garage doors raised to let the breezes through.
Each presented biographies and reasons for running, some concise and some generational, to those gathered. Forum coordinators Pat Burroughs and Molly Nemetz fielded the submitted questions that ranged from business and recreation growth to the county comprehensive plan to specifically why it is so hard to get the county to pay more attention to Hoback Ranches’ taxpayers.
Whichever two of these eight candidates and Gary Sanders, who couldn’t make it, are elected in the Aug. 16 primary election, they will shape the future of Sublette County and with it, the rural Hoback Basin.
Vickrey, who often votes against the grain, received applause from much of the local crowd for many of his answers. Zook was asked about his business relationship with Jackson Fork Ranch owner Joe Ricketts when Zook built and groomed a fat bike and cross-country trail next to the Ricketts’ Ice Bar. Zook said he had no commingled business relationship with Ricketts.
Most candidates talked about economic and population growth, with some more open to promoting development in the Hoback Basin. Bondurant Lisi Krall posed a “philosophical” question that suggested growth does not have to be inevitable or even welcomed.
Afterward, one woman said, “They don’t really get us here, do they?”