Gill 1st in GOP county contest

The youngest candidate for Teton County commissioner was the clear frontrunner among Republicans at the polls Tuesday.

Fifth-generation Jacksonite Nikki Gill pulled in 1,528 votes, or 41.23 percent, on the GOP ticket, meaning she is one of four candidates — two Republicans and two Democrats — who will move on to the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

“I’m humbled by all the support I’ve received throughout the process,” Gill, 28, said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, my family — my dad in particular — and all of those who donated to and supported my campaign. Jackson’s more than just my hometown. It’s part of who I am, and it would be an honor to serve my community. Bring it on, November.”

Gill grew up on the Jackson Hole Hereford Ranch. She serves as the sales and marketing manager for the ranch and helps manage the commercial real estate for the Gill family holdings.

Gill was one of three Republicans in the primary, a field that was narrowed to two.

However, Gill’s two challengers, Lisa daCosta and Trey Davis, remained entrenched in a head-to-head battle, one that was close enough to trigger a recount by the county.

Tuesday night results named Davis, owner of Sweetwater Restaurant, as the winner, pulling in 1,106 votes or 29.84 percent of the ballots.

“I’m thankful that the people voted for me,” Davis, 45, said. “I’m happy. I just want to make a difference.”

DaCosta, 51, who serves as a business advisor for the Teton County Small Business Development Center, was right on Davis’ heels with 1,072 votes or 28.93 percent of the votes cast.

Because she came within 1 percent of Davis’ numbers, all of their ballots will be recounted starting this morning, Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said. Results are expected by this afternoon.

On the Democratic side Greg Epstein led the ticket with 1,566 votes or 39.54 percent. As with Gill, this is his first run at a seat on the five-member commission.

“I’m excited,” Epstein, 45, said. “It just tells me that the young people got out and voted and people are definitely looking for some change in the county — and it’s time.”

Epstein, who is the head of production for Teton Gravity Research, also credited his community roots for his success.

“Growing up here makes a difference,” he said.

Natalia D. Macker, the only incumbent in the race, came in second among Democrats with 1,297 votes or 32.75 percent.

Macker, who was appointed to the board in August, said she plans to “keep working hard for the people of Teton County.”

“I have work to do,” said Macker, 32, who held an election party at Hole Bowl for friends and family. “I love my job, and I’m going to keep doing my job and talking to voters.”

The third Democratic candidate, Sandy Shuptrine, pulled in 1,097 votes, or 27.70 percent. Shuptrine, 71, who has lived in the area for the past 45 years, served as county commissioner from 1991 to 2003.

While the candidates will be designated by party on the general election ballot, whichever two receive the most votes, regardless of party, will take the two openings on the board.

Macker holds one seat, while Commission Chairwoman Barbara Allen, a Republican, holds the second. Allen, however, announced in March she would not be seeking re-election.

All results are considered unofficial until results are certified, expected by Thursday afternoon.