Political Capital in Mammoth Lakes, CA


Political Capital is defined as “the ability of a group to influence the distribution of resources within a social unit or the trust the community has in a politician to make decisions for the community”. (Green & Haines) Mammoth Lakes, CA is located in the Mono County District of California and is the only incorporated community in the county. This small community holds Town Council meetings on the first and third Wednesday of every month in order to discuss issues current to the area. The leading members of the town council are Mayor, Sheilds Richardson, the Mayor Pro Term, John Wentworth, and three councilmembers, Colin Fernie, Cleland Hoff and Bill Sauser. (Town of Mammoth Lakes, n.d.)

Due to the fact that the majority of Mono County is spread out throughout the wilderness surrounding the Sierra Mountain range, Mammoth Lakes is the most populated area. Mammoth Lakes serves as a social, administrative, and economic center for the majority of the county. Residents living in other areas have generally limited interaction with the town council and usually only interact socially and economically with the Town of Mammoth Lakes due to the physical distances between residents. (Town of Mammoth Lakes, 2009)

As the main source of income and attraction for the town of Mammoth, the owners of Mammoth Mountain have a large impact on its political capital. Because of this, the town council works closely with citizens to direct a collective effort towards encouraging people to visit Mammoth, which will increase the economic activity, as well as creating affordable housing and fair housing legislature so that residents in Mammoth will want to stay and others will want to settle there. (Town of Mammoth Lakes, 2009) However, one of the most important efforts for the town council recently has been conserving the natural capital in the area, which is the main draw to tourists and those currently living in Mammoth. A great example of this is one town meeting held to discuss the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ desire to become a part of the Mountain Pact. “The Mountain Pact is a newly formed coalition representing mountain towns, including Aspen, Vail, Park City, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The coalition’s aim is to represent mountain communities in federal policymaking decisions to help support us in addressing economic loss and environmental degradation as a result of extreme weather events and climate change.” (Mammoth Lakes Town Council, 2015) This Council Meeting discussed 3 options regarding their involvement in the Mountain Pact by taking into consideration things such as staffing, financing, the environmental impacts and the legality. As you can clearly see, in a small town such as Mammoth Lakes, there is no shortage of political capital. People are eager and willing to discuss the future for their town as well as how to continually make it a better place to live, something all communities should strive to do.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-7-50-30-pm         screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-7-52-46-pm

Works Cited

Green, G., & Haines, A. (n.d.). Asset Building and Community Development. Los Angeles , California: SAGE Learning .

Mammoth Lakes Town Council. (2015, May 20). Mammoth Lakes Town Council Agenda Action Sheet. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from Mammoth Lakes, CA: http://mammothlakes.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=467&meta_id=46089

Town of Mammoth Lakes. (2009, October). Municipal Service and Sphere of Influence Recommendation . Retrieved October 26, 2016, from MonoCounty.gov: https://www.monocounty.ca.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/local_agency_formation_commission_lafco/page/1058/townofmammothlakessphereoctober2009.pdf

Town of Mammoth Lakes. (n.d.). Town Council . Retrieved October 26, 2016, from Mammoth Lakes California : http://www.ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us/index.aspx?nid=82