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Candidates make final push in last month before General Election

Written by Saige Albert

Reports from Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray showed top primary election turnout since 2004, with over 116,000 ballots cast.

“Although this is the best primary election turnout Wyoming has seen in a presidential election since 2004, I think we still have a lot of work to do as a state to continue to educate our families, our friends, our neighbors and especially our youth about the importance of voting,” Murray told Wyoming PBS.

Candidates in Wyoming’s 60 House districts and the even-numbered Senate districts have been canvassing their districts, garnering support for their candidacy.

Nov. 8 marks General Election Day this year, and Wyomingites can vote absentee until Nov. 7 or at polls on Election Day.

Along with the presidential race, Wyoming will elect a new Congressman to serve in the House of Representatives. Liz Cheney, Republican candidate, was featured in an Oct. 15 article in the Roundup. Democratic candidate Ryan Greene’s views are described in this edition of the paper.

In addition, all candidates running for House or Senate in the Wyoming Legislature were contacted via e-mail. The Wyoming Livestock Roundup gave candidates one week to provide insight on their top three priorities in this election in 100 words or less.

Candidates’ input is provided below. Those candidates who did not respond are also listed, as well.

Candidates are listed with their part affiliation. R indicates a Republican candidate, D signifies a Democratic candidate, C is for Constitution Party candidates and I indicates an Independent.

House of Representatives

District 1

R – Tyler Lindholm

D – Randy Leinen

District 2

R – Hans Hunt

D – Harold Eaton

District 3

R – Eric Barlow

District 4

R – Dan R. Kirkbride – My first priority is to help us spend our state money prudently.  I define that as living within our means to fund enterprises that are some combination of the five E’s: essential, efficient, pre-emptive – to save us money down the road, empowering – to strengthen our people, and/or enterprising to help stimulate the economy on some level.

Buttressing coal is a second emphasis because it is the backbone of so much that we benefit from in state government. Anything we can undertake legally, promotionally or technologically is important.

Efforts to diversify the economy are my third objective.

C – Joe Michaels – First, I want to reaffirm the sovereignty of Wyoming. Much of what happens in Wyoming is the result from an outside-of-Wyoming source. I believe that Wyoming should stand up and make decisions that are correct for Wyoming.

Next, I will protect personal property rights, including protecting against EPA overreach and working to protect endangered species like sage grouse here in Wyoming.

Finally, I will budget within our revenue. As citizens of Wyoming, we now need to decide how much government we want and how much government we want to pay for.

As a veteran, an owner of a small ag business and an experienced leader I believe it is time for some new ideas in Cheyenne.

District 5

R – Cheri E. Steinmetz

District 6

R – Aaron Clausen – I am a fourth generation rancher and businessman who lives south of Douglas on LaBonte Creek.  I have been president of the Converse County Farm Bureau for 12 years, president of the Wyoming Ag Leadership Council for three years and on the board of directors for six years.

If I’m elected, I will focus on having a state budget that provides for what’s important to Wyoming while cutting the fat.

I will also strive to keep our business environment friendly by keeping taxes and regulations at a minimum.

Finally, my largest goal in the legislature would be to protect the Wyoming way of life for generations to come. 

D – Shalyn C. Anderson

District 7

R – Sue Wilson

District 8

R – Bob Nicholas

D – Linda Burt – In running for House District Eight, I will prioritize tax reform, taking a comprehensive review of tax structure, looking for less reliance on the extraction industry and broadening current revenue sources while also seeking new sources of income.

On the budget, I will fight against across-the-board cuts of program, instead looking at evaluation of program effectiveness. I will prioritize programs that support elderly, disabled and low-income citizen, as well as those that support and develop a diversified economy.

Finally, I am in favor of Medicaid expansion to ensure adequate healthcare for Wyoming’s working poor.

District 9

R – Landon Brown

D – Mike Weiland – There are many important issues facing Wyoming. My top three priorities would be the passage of Medicaid expansion, diversifying the economy and education.

Medicaid expansion would help nearly 20,000 of our working poor to obtain health insurance.  It would bring additional revenue and jobs to Wyoming and help the hospitals with uncompensated care.

Diversification of the economy includes, quality infrastructure, great quality of life, increase use and development of renewable energy and world class education. 

All would attract business and help keep our young people in Wyoming. Education should be fully funded and high quality.    

District 10

R – John Eklund

D – Matthew Porras

District 11

R – Jared Olson

D – Mary A. Throne – To me, there is one over-riding issue.  Wyoming, once and for all, needs to seize control of its destiny to survive the energy downturn.  We need a long-term plan for restructuring our economy to take advantage of new opportunities in tech, tourism, agriculture and other sectors, while at the same time maintaining support for our energy base. 

  Agriculture will play an important role in the effort to change our economy, and we must explore enhanced opportunities for this sector. Agriculture’s stewardship of the land already supports both habitat for our wonderful wildlife resources and access for energy development.  

District 12

R – Lars Lone

D – Lee Filer

District 13

R – Joey Correnti IV

D – Cathy Connolly

District 14

R – Dan Furphy – The most pressing issue is the reduced revenue that the state is experiencing. We need to pursue diversification of our economy. During my tenure with the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, we have created jobs mostly through the technology sector and the manufacturing sector and can do so at the State level.

We need to fund the University of Wyoming to finance important research.  The University has developed some new technologies and jobs in the agricultural area, such as Bright Agro-Tech and research in energy with alternative uses of coal.

We need to continue to fund our schools appropriately.

D – Erin C. O’Doherty

District 15

R – Donald Burkhart

D – DeBari T. Martinez

District 16

D – Mike Gierau

District 17

D – JoAnn Dayton

District 18

R – Thomas D. Crank

D – Michele Irwin

District 19

R – Danny Eyre

D – Mel McCreary

District 20

R – Albert Sommers

D – Jeanne Brown

District 21

R – Robert McKim

D – David Fogle

District 22

R – Marti Halverson

D – Marylee White – I am a fourth generation Wyomingite. Both of my parents grew up on homesteads in the Medicine Bow area. Our ranch is still in operation. I will be an advocate for ranchers if elected to the Wyoming Legislature.

I oppose legislation to transfer federal public lands to the state of Wyoming.  I think this ill-conceived notion is a waste of time and money. The Wyoming Constitution does not support claims that the federal government has illegally taken these lands from the state.

Wyoming needs to expand Medicaid in the 2017 legislative session. It would provide access to healthcare for 20,000 Wyomingites. This economic boost would stabilize services and inject tax dollars paid by us back into Wyoming communities.

District 23

D – Andy Schwartz

District 24

R – Scott B. Court

D – Paul Fees

I – Sandy Newsome

District 25

R – Dan Laursen

D – Shane Tillotson

District 26

R – Jamie Flitner – If I am elected, my initial priority would be to educate myself on the process and get up to speed regarding budget and the immediate needs of the state. 

As a fifth generation rancher, agriculture is important. I want to ensure we continue to support and expand opportunities for agriculture and minerals extraction. 

Public lands are an important issue to me. I would like for our local people who live near and use those lands to have more say and involvement in their management.

I also understand the importance of tourism and recreation.I feel it’s important we continue to look at expanding those opportunities.

I’m optimistic about Wyoming and our future, despite tight budget times.  I look forward to the opportunity to serve and give back. 

D – Jean Petty

C – Joyce Collins

District 27

R – Michael D. Greear – My priorities, as I look at Wyoming's future, are three-pronged and include the revenue shortfall and budgeting, federal regulations and education funding.

The single most important course of action is to ensure that we have a balanced budget.

When we look at federal regulation, I could go on for hours, but everyone already knows the problems. This is a difficult issue to tackle. However, the one approach that works is to ensure that the State of Wyoming maintains primacy with respect to all such regulations.

Finally, with a down turn in the major mineral sectors, funding for K-12 education is at a crisis. This is a very sensitive issue, as our children are the state’s future.

D – Robert D. McDonough, Jr.

District 28

R – Nathan Winters

D – Howard Samuelson – My top three priorities, if elected to serve my constituents as their Representative from House District 28, are to keep public lands in public hands for the benefit of all Wyoming users, to work to ensure that Medicaid is expanded to help make Wyomingites as healthy as possible and to investigate all the possibilities for economic diversification and encourage non-traditional businesses to locate in Wyoming.

District 29

R – Mark S. Kinner

D – Sandra S. Kingsley

District 30

R – Mark Jennings

D – Val Burgess – My goal is to live, work and serve according to the Wyoming’s Code of Ethics.  That means, by example, living each day with courage, taking pride in my work, finishing what I start, doing what has to be done, being tough but fair and always riding for the brand – and that is Wyoming.

  I commit to these values for my voters in House District 30. Know that I will talk less, say more, remember that some things are not for sale and know where to draw the line while serving you in the Wyoming legislature, as James P. Owen said in “Cowboy Ethics.”

District 31

R – Scott Clem

D – Dylan Czamecki

District 32

R – Timothy Hallinan

District 33

R – Jim AllenMy top three issues involve water storage, state’s rights and protecting our freedom.

Water storage and building reservoirs is good for agriculture, municipalities and industry. Water is the key to our prosperity and opportunity.

I will continue to vote for state control of our resources. Federal rulemaking is hurting our state with regulations such as waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and the Clean Power Plan. The legislature has invested in fighting federal overreach, which stymies our growth and opportunity.

I support all of our civil liberties, especially the right to own, use and control property, the right to bear arms, free speech and the 10th Amendment states’ rights. I support free enterprise unhampered by excessive rules and needless regulations.

D – Sergio Maldonado, Sr.

District 34

R – Tim Salazar

District 35

R – Kendell Kroeker

D – Brett Governanti

District 36

R – Gerald Gay

D – Debbie Bovee – I believe Wyoming must have a balanced budget. I want possible budget cuts to be carefully examined, so when cuts are made, people can still access essential services.

I also believe we need to step up efforts to diversity our economy.

I want to see public education, from pre-school through post-secondary, adequately funded. Education and training can help to diversify our economy.

I don’t want to see any changes in the management of public lands that would greatly limit public access to those lands.

I support the second amendment and believe Wyoming’s laws on gun control are adequate.

District 37

R – Steve Harshman – The first priority is to balance this current budget. Even after the Governor’s cuts, we are still $200 million short in the General Fund. It is hard to predict, but that will likely be a combination of more cuts and spending from savings.

The second priority is to find a long-term solution to the K-12 budget shortfall that is coming in 2018-19. This will be a multifaceted approach of reductions, savings and revenue flow changes.

The third priority is to keep Wyoming open for business and lead in a positive and proactive manner. We will continue to move our state forward.  We are going to be leaner, stronger and even better positioned for the future.

D – Deidre Stoelzle

District 38

R – Tom Walters

District 39

D – Stan Blake – Like everyone else I want to diversify our economy, be conservative with spending, support education and respond to our citizens needs.

Maybe different from others, Wyoming’s water is a priority of mine. We need to do everything we can to protect and develop this limited resource.

When we look at public lands, I am against the state taking over federal lands. We do, however, need more input into the management of this land. Protecting historic use is a top priority for me of these lands.

District 40

R – Michael Madden – A priority of mine for the coming two years is to map out a spending protocol for all of our rainy day funds. We will, hopefully, during the next two years, learn more about how long it will be before the mineral economy turns around – and if it ever is likely to do so.

Another priority is to lay some serious groundwork for building a more functional revenue system that does not turn Wyoming’s fiscal and economic health upside down when the mineral industry depresses, as it has now.

Finally, we need to carefully prune down a long-term and sustainable state spending policy to match a realistic revenue generation capability of the state fiscal system.

D – Greg Haas

District 41

R – Bill Henderson – I’m running to serve people in our district, make sure their voice is heard and represented, and concerns  are resolved.

I want to eliminate costly, unwanted government regulations, protect our resources and diversify to grow Wyoming. Let’s use fiscal common sense and end “blank check” spending.

I want to develop an LSRA, or rainy day, plan, improve healthcare access and provide the best education, vocational and technical training.

With Wyoming roots, I’m a combat veteran with the right education, proven leadership, management and fiscal experience to help tackle our problems. I would appreciate your vote.

D – Amy Simpson

District 42

R – Jim Blackburn

D – Juliet M. Daniels – My first priority is to ensure the legislature uses a thoughtful, strategic approach to addressing budget shortfalls. We need to consider a more viable approach to our long-term financial stability.

My second priority is to pass Medicaid expansion to help about 20,000 uninsured Wyomingites directly and reduce the burden on our publicly funded hospitals. It will bring additional revenue into Wyoming and offset reductions in state revenues. It is money that Wyomingites have already paid and should be brought back to Wyoming.

Finally, my third priority is to create more opportunities for constituents to meaningfully engage with the legislative process, primarily by increasing dialogue.

District 43

R – Dan Zwonitzer

District 44

R – John B. Romero-Martinez

D – James W. Byrd

District 45

R – Tom Schmit

D – Charles F. Pelkey – My top three priorities in running for the House of Representatives in Wyoming are Medicaid expansion, preserving public lands and protecting our investment in education.

Our legislature has rejected nearly half-a-billion federal dollars to make a political point. Fine – they don’t like Obama-Care, but don’t make the people of Wyoming pay for that kind of stubbornness.

I oppose the effort to take over federal lands. We don’t have the resources to properly manage those lands, and that may ultimately lead to their privatization. We need to preserve public access to those lands.

  We must work to protect our investment in education. Good schools, colleges and a strong university are keys to our economic future.

District 46

R – Bill Haley

D – Ken Chestek – Three priorities, all of equal weight, are to protect our public lands, expand Medicaid and diversify Wyoming’s economy.

I believe our public lands should be protected. No federal land should be transferred to the state.

As we look at healthcare, I think it is important to expand Medicaid so that hard-working Wyoming families can get the health insurance they need, and hospitals can get paid for the services they provide.

Finally, I will work to diversify the Wyoming economy by investing in infrastructure to support renewable energy – primarily wind and solar, recruit information technology businesses to Wyoming and find alternative uses for coal so that the coal mining industry can be sustained. If we turn coal into building materials, like grapheme and carbon fiber, coal’s future can be extended.

District 47

R – Jerry Paxton

D – Ken Casner – First and foremost I think this issue crosses party lines and is vital to Wyoming.  I believe that, if I am elected, my district wants to keep public lands public.

Secondly, a vote in my favor is a vote for affordable health care and Medicaid expansion to keep our rural hospitals funded, along with providing medical services and quality care.

Finally, I want my constituents to respect their votes for me as their legislator.  I truly want to earn their respect for that vote, by doing my duties and obligations with fidelity and keeping their voice heard on the Wyoming legislative floor.  

District 48

R – Mark Baker

D – Jackie Freeze – The most important priority is addressing our declining revenues at the state and local levels.  We rely heavily on the extraction industry to support our state.  We need to look to diversify our economy, find new funding streams, support cities and counties and to develop guidelines for using the “rainy day” fund.

Of great importance is the issue of public lands.  It is important to keep our access to public lands by leaving oversight at the federal level.  The cost to our state would prohibit effective management.

Third, I support action that helps Wyoming workers earn a livable wage with appropriate benefits and support.  Related to this is to assure that we fully support education at all levels.

District 49

R – Garry C. Piiparinen

D – Larissa Sneider

District 50

R – David Northrup

D – Mike Specht

District 51

R – Bo Biteman – My top three priorities start with getting the size and scope of our state government back down to a more realistic and sustainable level. We have a spending problem more than we have a revenue problem.

Next, I will fight to protect the rights of Wyoming citizens. This includes the right to keep and bear arms, private property rights and state’s rights.

Finally, I will ensure that Wyoming remains a beacon of freedom and opportunity, individually and economically. Wyoming must remain business friendly to attract new business and to help current businesses afford to stay here.

D – Hollis Hackman – I believe a state legislature should serve the greater good and protect quality of life for all its citizens equally, not a select few or special interests.

I believe business, industry, mining and agriculture can be promoted without sacrificing the beauty and sustainable resources of the state.

Our public land should be used in a sustainable manner that protects them for future generations.

Wyoming should set the standard for the best schools and local school boards and parents should pay the largest part in shaping that education.

District 52

R – William “Bill” Pownall

D – Duffy Jenniges – As my top priorities, I will expand Medicaid and establish a statewide veterans’ hiring preference.

I will also work to legalize medical marijuana, including legalizing industrial hemp. I will work to make minor drug offenses misdemeanors.

Next, I will prioritize keeping federal lands in federal hands.

I have a ranch in Hot Springs County, so I’m connected to ag, and I am always open for discussion.

District 53

R – Roy Edwards

District 54

R – Lloyd Charles Larsen

D – Julia Stuble

District 55

R – David Miller

District 56

R – Jerry Obermueller

D – Dan Neal – I’m running for office because I care about Wyoming’s people and this great place we all love.

I support responsible budgeting that protects essential services; Medicaid expansion to bring our federal tax dollars home to strengthen the healthcare system and create hundreds of jobs; sustainable funding for education; keeping public lands in public hands; fighting for access to those lands and wildlife and equal protection under the law.

I also believe in searching for ways to diversify the economy; supporting scientific management of wildlife resources; and ensuring all women access to reproductive health care. I also support the Second Amendment.

District 57

R – Chuck Gray – Our state government needs to be a responsible steward of taxpayer money. The irresponsible spending practices of insiders squandered our state’s revenues, and now, many politicians are actively talking about tax increases. This is wrong. Tax increases are not the answer.

One solution is controlling non-essential spending with zero-based budgeting. 

Wyoming needs to work to stop the Obama EPA’s illegal rules and protect our mineral industry.

I am opposed to efforts to bring liberal values to Wyoming. For example, in 2015, SF115 would have brought transgender bathrooms to Wyoming. These efforts are wrong and out of step with Wyoming’s values. 

D – Audrey M. Cotherman – My top priorities, if elected, are the economy, specifically helping start-ups and creating new jobs.  I am also interested in helping to develop guidelines for when and how the rainy day fund can be used to sustain the economy, social services and assistance to local governments.  

Second, I will be focused on education issues, particularly accountability standards and K-12 and university funding. 

I am also committed to keeping public lands the heritage of all Americans for both economic and aesthetic reasons.

District 58

R – Patrick Sweeney

D – Michael Wade McDaniel, Jr.

I – Joe Porambo

District 59

R – Carl “Bunky” Loucks

D – Laure Longtine

District 60

D – John L. Freeman

Senate

District 2

R – Brian S. Boner – My priorities are fighting back in the war on our western way of life, balancing our budget and working for a safe learning environment in our K-12 system. 

The regulatory burden placed on our agriculture and mineral industries is killing jobs, and I will push back to the extent possible at the state level. The difficult budgetary decisions ahead will require us to cut services and personnel but will be necessary to keep our tax burden low. 

Even as we make further reductions, I will continue to make funding to local government, K-12 education and economic development a priority.

D – William B. Cullen III

District 4

R – Tara Nethercott

D – Ken A. Esquibel – I know the importance that farming and ranching have on the future of Wyoming. My voting record in the House of Representatives speaks for itself. The agriculture industry needs state senators who understand water issues and the need to have sound fiscal policies.

Moving forward, I want to work with our state leaders in making Wyoming’s agriculture industry nationally recognized as the best in the country. Our investments into the University of Wyoming and my support for those programs will continue in the Wyoming State Senate. Go Pokes!

District 6

R – Anthony Bouchard

I – Kym Zwonitzer – Managing our state’s budget during our economic downturn is the most important priority. We need to streamline to maintain jobs, infrastructure and services and research ways to reduce our spending. This will involve department-by-department analysis, careful management of the rainy day fund, supporting all efforts to fight government overreach and pushing for ways to promote our wealth of mineral reserves. 

In southeast Wyoming, my priorities are addressing the growth in our schools and supporting economic development efforts to bring in new industries and new jobs.

District 8

R – Affie Ellis

D – Floyd A. Esquibel

District 10

R – Glenn Moniz

D – Narina Nunez

District 12

D – Lisa Anselmi-Dalton

District 14

R – Fred Baldwin

D – Charlotte Sedey

District 16

R – Dan Dockstader

D – Richard Kusaba

District 18

R – Henry H.R. “Hank” Coe

I – Cindy Baldwin

District 20

R – Wyatt Agar

D – Mary Jane Norskog

District 22

R – Dave Kinskey – Our freedoms and livelihoods are threatened by regulation and taxation. The Obama Administration issued its 600th major federal rule, an all-time record. President Obama’s $20 trillion deficit imperils our great nation.

Cheyenne, too, is grappling with budget deficits.  This is a time when our focus should be solely on reducing the size and scope of state government. Those calling for increased taxes are putting the cart before the horse.  Fiscal discipline is the first order of business.

  My highest priority in the upcoming session will be balancing the state budget.

District 24

R – Michael Von Flatern

District 26

R – Eli D. Bebout

D – Chesie Lee

District 28

R – James “Jim” Anderson

D – Kimberly Holloway

District 30

R – Charles K. Scott

D – Robert Ford

Visit the Wyoming Secretary of State online at soswy.state.wy.us/Elections/2016ElectionInformation.aspx for the most up-to-date information on the 2016 General Election. Available information includes candidate contact information, voting information and more.

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this article from responses gathered from candidates. All candidates were provided equal opportunity to provide their top priorities.