Former ski patroller challenges instructor
Democrat from Wilson announces bid for state House seat.
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.
March 5, 2008
’Troller versus instructor race.
That could be the shorthand for the campaign for the Wyoming House District 22 seat following Wilson resident Jim Roscoe’s announcement he intends to challenge incumbent Monte Olsen for the post.
Roscoe is a former ski patroller who worked for years at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Olsen, of Daniel, lists his profession as skier; he has taught ski lessons at the same resort.
The political matchup recalls the traditional ski rivalry at the resort in which the two crews of professionals used to slalom their way to bragging rights.
Roscoe an-nounced Monday he would seek the Democratic nomination this weekend to run against the Sublette County Republican. Roscoe, 57, settled in Wilson in 1971 and operates Roscoe Co., a contracting business that constructs homes and restores historic buildings in Teton and Sublette counties.
Olson, 51, was elected to the Legislature in 2003 and sits on the Select Management Audit and Judiciary committees. He also sits on the State Employee Compensation Commission.
“States’ rights are pretty interesting to me,” Roscoe said in a telephone interview Monday.
He said Wyoming residents seem powerless as the federal government grants energy companies leases to develop sprawling oil and gas fields at the expense of residents’ values.
“With things happening on BLM and Forest Service [land], Wyoming can have very little to say,” Roscoe said of the federal leasing system.
Energy companies were sold rights to develop without the public being aware of the impacts, Roscoe said. Now, residents are revolting.
“I think the process is out of sequence,” he said. “Before the leases are issued is when this discussion should take place.”
Other users of public land are carefully controlled, Roscoe said. Outfitters are limited in the number of clients, stock and so on that they can take onto public lands, he said. Ranchers are issued only a certain amount of animal unit months for grazing. And logging companies are constrained by plans detailing how much impact they will have.
“It seems like there’s none of that with oil and gas,” Roscoe said.
Roscoe said he understands Wyoming is an energy state but hopes Wyoming leaders will ensure energy policy is forward-looking.
“I would like to see [Wyoming] come up with some clean technologies for energy,” he said. “I’d like to see it be a forerunner,” pushing things like wind farms supported by nonpolluting coal power. “I’d like to see Wyoming do the research.”
The state should manage its growth “in a smart way,” Roscoe said, and should ensure that energy-producing counties, like Sublette County, get their fair share of return on oil and gas developed in their area. “That’s where the impact is,” he said.
Roscoe and his wife, Jane Baldwin, in 1993 bought the Roxanna and Gary Jensen Ranch in Big Sandy in Sublette County, where his family has spent summers. The couple have two sons, Will and Wyatt.
Roscoe said his experience with the Big Sandy property gives him an appreciation for ranchers in the Equality State. “I certainly hope to protect agricultural interests in the counties,” he said.
Owning property in two counties and employing workers from them, and from Alpine, the only town in Lincoln County in the district, gives him an “ear to the ground” regarding issues in the area, Roscoe said.
District 22 is made up mostly of Sublette County precincts, including those in the Hoback Rim/Bondurant area, Daniel, Cora, Pinedale and Boulder. Big Piney and Marbleton are not part of the district. In Teton County, the district includes Wilson and the Hoback precincts, and in Lincoln County the bedroom community of Alpine.
“Over the past three months, I have come to realize that one way I might help to preserve Wyoming’s natural resources, clean air and commitment to fiscal responsibility is by giving back to this great state of ours by running for the 22nd House District seat,” Roscoe said in a statement. “As a passionate outdoorsman and hunter in Wyoming for more than 35 years and as a general contractor in Sublette County for some 15 years and in Teton County for over 20 years now, I’ve become keenly aware that Wyoming must have strong advocates in its Legislature who are willing to stand up to the federal government to see that Wyoming, and especially Sublette and Teton counties, use their mineral wealth wisely and protect their agricultural and unprecedented natural resources in the near and distant future.”