Updated: May 20
Architect to seek second term in town office.
By Timothy J. Woods, May 18, 2022
Jackson’s housing crisis is at the top of the list of items Jackson Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen wants to keep working on if he wins another term on the Town Council.
Jorgensen, an architect who lives in East Jackson with his wife, Teresa de Groh, is the son of longtime state representative Pete Jorgensen. He announced to the Jackson Hole Daily on Satu
rday that he is running for a second term on the Town Council.
Jorgensen said he has seen firsthand the changes in Jackson over the last few decades and particularly the last several years. With those changes have come some very difficult challenges facing a town where many cling to Jackson’s Western heritage and character, and the amount of wealth is driving longtime residents from the area.
“During my four years in office — and especially in the last two years — I have seen the real-life stressors and pains of making ends meet in an increasingly more expensive region,” Jorgensen said. “I will continue to provide a thoughtful, positive voice to our dialogues in a way that improves the place that we have been fortunate enough to call home for all community members, not just the loudest in the room.”
He added that with the challenges come opportunities in such a unique region.
“Throughout much of our history, our potential is really a combination of our community and the amazing place, the environment where we live, the place where we live, and that hasn’t changed,” he said. “It also represents the challenges, right? How do we maintain that community? How do we respect the place we’re in?
“So, I think we’re poised well to take advantage of our opportunities, but there’s a lot to do.”
While Jorgensen cited housing as one of the greatest challenges the town faces, he also listed progress made since his election in 2018 on housing among the achievements of which he’s most proud.
“Housing continues to be a very significant focus of mine,” he said. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the low-income [rental] tax-credit project on West Snow King,” which will break ground in August after the Teton County Fair. “That one took a lot of effort, working with the state of Wyoming to unlock those funds, those federal funds. And this is providing new housing, rental housing, at a truly affordable level. It’s something we’ve not been able to do at this scale in the past.”
The Vice Mayor also mentioned ecosystem stewardship; the town’s ability and willingness to connect failing wastewater treatment systems outside the town’s service area to the town’s wastewater plant; successfully navigating pandemic-related issues; and effective and efficient budgeting processes as other points of pride during his current term.
As a career architect who has worked on all types of buildings, Jorgensen acknowledged the value that expertise brings to council assessments of various projects. But he also pointed out that only certain developments in Jackson that meet various thresholds — key among them square footage — come before the council. Rather, he said, setting policy through land development regulations and zoning are where the council truly makes its mark where development is concerned.
“I think it’s important to recognize that each of us bring a particular skill set to the council,” he said. “When we review these individual projects, we’re doing it as one of five people. And most of the projects that you’re talking about don’t come to the Town Council. The rules and the guidelines and the regulations that they’re being developed under have been established through our comprehensive plan and our land development regulations.
“So, I think our role is more importantly focused on those larger policies and what our goals are, rather than individual projects that come through.”
Jorgensen is one of two people thus far to have announced their candidacies for the two seats up for election in November — those held currently by Jorgensen and Councilor Jonathan Schechter. Realtor Devon Viehman, who narrowly missed out on winning a seat in the 2020 election which saw councilors Jessica Sell Chambers and Jim Rooks win the two open seats, is the other. Schechter has not decided whether he intends to run for a second term.