Sentence focuses on constitutionWritten by Saige Albert
Torrington – Jason Senteney was born the same year that Congressman Cynthia Lummis started her political career, and he says he is the individual that can support the needs of Wyoming in Washington, D.C.
A Torrington native, Senteney currently works in state corrections, but his experience in other career fields has brought him valuable insight into the state and nation.
“Two weeks after high school, I joined the United States Marine Corp,” Senteney says. “When I swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution, I wanted to know what I was swearing an oath to, so I really began studying the Constitution.”
He adds, “I’ve been studying the Constitution and U.S. government for over 20 years now, and I think I’m well-suited to go to Washington and sort out some of the main problems out there.”
After he completed his military service, Senteney worked as a photojournalist for NBC and Fox in Texas, and then he began a career in business management.
In 2009, he returned to Wyoming and began his career as a correctional officer. He also serves on the Wyoming Air Quality Small Business Compliance Advisory Council.
During high school and upon moving back to Wyoming, he worked in agriculture, helping to move cattle and irrigate on Torrington-area ranches and farms.
“I’m not an expert in the ag industry, but I’ve gotten my feet wet,” he says. “I understand from the ground what impacts these operations and how they work.”
If elected, Senteney says his top priorities will be on tax reform and term limits.
“Our current tax system is seriously broken,” he says. “I’m going to work to simplify the tax system by repealing the 16th Amendment – the federal income tax, and transitioning to a national sales tax, which takes place at the final point of sale.”
Senteney emphasizes that Americans shouldn’t be penalized for their success, and rather, taxes should be more evenly distributed across the system.
“I believe it will level the playing field for small businesses against Wall Street,” he adds.
Senteney also believes that “lifetime” congressmen in Washington, D.C. are detrimental to constituents.
“We have people who have been in Washington for 20, 30, 40 years,” he says. “They’re out of touch with their constituents, and they do what they want. It needs to stop. I believe if we have constitutional terms limits, we’ll have new blood constantly circulating in Congress, which will keep up with changes in society and the issues that come up.”
Looking at issues of top priority for agriculture, Senteney notes that he believes that public lands and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are problematic.
“I have a plan to downsize the Bureau of Land Management by 75 percent and work to turn management back to the state level,” he says. “There need to be some provisions in place, but I think we need to get back to state management.”
To deal with funding, Senteney says that revenues made on public lands would be deposited into state coffers under state management, providing for adequate funding.
“If we transition those funds to state coffers, we will have the money to manage the land within the state and deal with other problems, as well,” he says.
He also sees that major reforms are necessary in the ESA.
“With the right people in Congress and the right person in the White House, the ESA can be reformed,” Senteney says.
“When animals take priority, there’s a problem,” he says. “I believe there’s a more common-sense approach.”
He continues, “For example, when we’re dealing with sage grouse, there’s many ecosystems around the country. We could move those species to a wildlife area or some sort of reserve so we can maintain the productivity of the land. We should be able to move that species to a place that is similar to their environment.”
Senteney says that he will work in congress to make similar common-sense decisions to challenging problems.
“We need to stand up for our citizens,” he says.
“I believe I am the best-suited candidate for this job. We need more working-class representation, somebody who’s going to look out for Main Street instead of Wall Street, and I think I am that individual,” Senteney comments.
Stubson touts strong record, diverse backgroundWritten by Saige Albert
Casper – With nine years in the state of Wyoming Legislature, Tim Stubson looks back on his record, as well as his experience, diverse background and deep connection to Wyoming people as his strengths in running for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“In a general way, I would say the people of Wyoming are concerned with the economy and jobs,” Stubson says. “I’ve tried to focus my legislative career on the economic issues that are important to the state of Wyoming and making sure we have vibrant communities across the state.”
While Washington, D.C. hasn’t always been his goal, he says, “I think it’s really important for someone who’s worked on the issues and knows Wyoming people to be in that seat in Washington. We can’t gamble on one seat in 435.”
Stubson was born and raised in Wyoming, growing up in Casper, Thermopolis and Cody and making his career in business law in Casper. He, his wife and two sons make their home in Casper today.
In 2008, Stubson was appointed to the Wyoming Legislature by Natrona County’s Commissioners, and since then, he’s served on a number of committees, including Appropriations.
“I have a record of getting things done on issues that are important to Wyoming,” he says.
In solving problems in the state, Stubson believes in a collaborative approach that brings all stakeholders to the table to achieve a workable solution.
Citing legislation for industrial siting of wind projects, as an example, he explains, “We brought everyone together to write a bill that made sense and balanced interests. We did it with a common sense solution that helped the future of Wyoming.”
Issues at stake
With everything from business and health insurance concerns to natural resources and energy on the plate for Congress, Stubson believes in a common-sense approach to challenges.
“Sage grouse spells out the danger of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and why we need to reform it,” Stubson says. “That was such an apocalyptic decision that we couldn't even afford for it to be considered, so we went to every length to make sure it isn’t listed. That is not what the ESA was designed to do.”
He notes that incentivizing habitat projects and instituting threshold limits wherein listed species would automatically be delisted unless science otherwise proves that they are not recovered would both be possible ways to fix the Act.
“We shouldn't have species listed that stay listed forever,” Stubson comments.
Priorities in Congress
Stubson notes that it is important to eliminate a one-size-fits-all mentality and approach solutions to problems at a localized level.
“No matter the issue, it’s important for Wyoming to manage Wyoming problems in a way that makes sense for us,” he says. “Globally, that would be my approach.”
To achieve those ends, he notes that action like rolling back regulations ranging from Clean Power Plan to the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule are necessary.
“We have to eliminate uncertainty and make Washington more accountable,” Stubson says.
Recently, Stubson laid out a five-point plan in an attempt to raise the accountability of Congress to respond to the needs of citizens.
“Congress is more concerned about raising funds for Congress than responding to the people in the U.S.,” he explains. “We have a five-point plan that talks about pensions, salaries, lobbyist reporting, personal use of campaign funds and one bill, one topic. It’s a reform package to say Congress isn’t going to be there for Congress’ sake but as it was envisioned – to respond to the needs of our nation.”
Though he wasn’t raised on a farm or ranch, Stubson notes that he has focused much of his work in the legislature over the past nine years on responding to issues that are important to agriculture, especially those related to federal lands.
“Whether we look at WOTUS, trade or the ESA, I have a track record,” Stubson says. “People don’t have to guess where I stand because I have a track record. I have a track record of making sure ag’s interests aren’t overlooked.”
“Even beyond my record, I think I’ve shown that I know how important ag is, especially to the small communities around the state,” Stubson comments. “Not just the economic but the cultural importance of ag to the state of Wyoming is something I know because I’ve made my home here.”
Working with people, Ag experience leads Ellis to seek public officeWritten by Christy Hemken
Torrington – “We decided, with the situation in the country, we needed representation in the state from agricultural people, for one thing, and from people who have had experience in business and have been involved in their industry and the political side of it,” says northern Goshen County rancher John Ellis of the discussion and decision between his wife and himself to run for Wyoming House District 2 in the 2010 elections.
“I feel I have the experience, knowledge and ability to go down to the Legislature and be a benefit to not only the people in my district, but to the state of Wyoming,” adds Ellis.
“I’ve spent my lifetime dedicated to working for the benefit of the livestock industry,” says Ellis, noting he can’t remember how many years he’s been a member of and involved in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He’s also been involved with the Wyoming State Grazing Board for 20 years, serving as district chairman and chairman of the state committee.
“I went to Washington, D.C. on a number of occasions to fight Bruce Babbit and the BLM when he was trying to take over our grazing rights,” says Ellis.
He lists the Torrington Airport Board, the Prairie Center Water District, Wyoming Farm Bureau, R-CALF and the NRA as other associations in which he’s involved.
“I’ve been deeply involved forever, and especially in the livestock industry,” he says. “That’s what’s important to me.”
Ellis was born in Hanna when his family ranched in Medicine Bow and has been in the ranching industry his whole life. He and his brother took over the ranch in 1969 when he was 24.
“It was a public land ranch, and we ran that until 2004, when we sold it and came to Goshen County and bought a private land ranch, so we know the difference between the two,” he notes.
When speaking of current issues in Wyoming, Ellis mentions money first. “I’m not running for the Legislature because I think the state’s done a bad job. I think they need people who can represent the state the way it’s been represented, and I want very much to keep Wyoming the way it is. I’d hate to see us in a position where we’re overspending, because that’s one thing we’ve worked really hard not to do,” he says.
“The main problem with our economy is that we’ve got too much government intrusion on our lives anymore,” he adds. “We can’t just secede from the Union, but if it comes up right, we can do things about it. I think we have to do it in small increments, but I think we can make gains in states’ rights, and I want to be a part of that.”
When speaking of wind energy development, Ellis says, “Absolutely, our private property rights are first and foremost. If someone has private property and wants to put windmills in, that’s his business. I won’t be very popular, but I’m not a strong advocate of wind power, because it’s driven by the environmental attitude of the country. The government has supported it, and I’d support it if it were a privately supported industry.
“I don’t understand how they can take a machine that costs that much and make it a viable source of energy that pays for itself, but I certainly believe that people have the perfect right to do with their private property what they want to, and that’s the way I feel about it,” says Ellis.
Of other state issues, Ellis says Lusk has a big problem with landfill issues. “They’re looking at having to haul their trash to Casper, and that needs to be looked at. I talked to a family in Saratoga, and they’re looking at the same thing, and so is Douglas. It’s a federal government-driven issue, and I feel like we should be able to decide on these things, and make our own rules and regulations to fit the communities. Our landfill issues are different than Chicago, New York or Denver, and it would be much better managed on a local level.”
“I feel the same way about educational issues. The closer we can get to local control, the better off we’ll be,” he says.
Regarding Wyoming’s wolf management plan, Ellis says, “I would not be in favor to ever bow down to federal government. We need to hang in there and do our own thing. The wolf is on our turf, not on theirs, so we need to maintain control. I think we ought to hold the course for a while yet.”
If elected, this would be Ellis’s first public office. “I’ve never been in public office before, and I’m not a politician by any stroke of the word. I do have a lot of experience working with people, and I have the ability to work with them,” he says. “I understand how to go to Cheyenne and work with people in the Legislature, and I understand how to get the job done. If I’m elected, I’ll go and do the very best job that I can.”
Aug. 17 brings close primary elections on state, district levelsWritten by Christy Hemken
On Aug. 17 citizens of Wyoming had the chance to take the first step in choosing the state’s next round of elected officials in the primary elections, which resulted in several close races on both the statewide and district levels.
It was the closest gubernatorial primary Wyoming has seen in nearly 25 years. Republican candidate Matt Mead of Cheyenne has family roots in Teton County, and he won in 14 of Wyoming’s 23 counties, gaining him the win even though Rita Meyer took the state’s two most populous counties, Laramie and Natrona, by significant margins.
While several primary election races were close, Wyoming’s secretary of state Max Maxfield says no recounts were necessary. State law requires a recount when the number of votes between the winning and losing candidate is less than one percent of the votes cast for the winning candidate.
The 714-vote difference between the chosen Mead and second-place candidate Rita Meyer is above that threshold, which would have required a difference of 303 votes or less for a recount.
In addition to the gubernatorial race, there was also a close contest for State Auditor on the Republican ticket between Cynthia Cloud and Bruce Brown. That race was also not within the one percent recount margin, with unofficial totals of Cloud at 47,356 votes – 51 percent – and Bruce Brown with 45,771 votes.
In House District 6 the race was separated by a narrow margin of 12 votes between Richard L. Canady and Richard. C. Grant Jr, but, based on the unofficial results, 11 or fewer votes would be needed to trigger a recount.
“If anything changes between the unofficial and the official results, we could see a recount in that district,” says Maxfield, who expected to see the results of the Converse County Canvassing Board by Friday, Aug. 20.
A total of 107,660 Wyoming citizens voted in the Republican primary, according to Maxfield’s office. The Democratic party saw 25,738 voters, while 3,589 voted as independents. Those numbered equaled 52 percent of registered Wyoming voters. Over the past five primaries Wyoming has averaged a 53 percent voter turnout.
Voter turnout in the last five general elections during presidential years has averaged 98 percent, while turnout in general elections in non-presidential elections averaged 62 percent.
Democratic candidate for Governor Leslie Peterson of Teton County won her party’s nomination with 48 percent of the votes, followed by Pete Gosar with 37 percent of votes.
Republican candidate for Governor Ron Micheli followed the top two candidates in third place with 26 percent of the vote, while candidate Colin Simpson gained 16 percent, only winning his home county, Park County. Alan Kousoulos, Tom Ubben and John Self followed, each with a statistical zero percent of votes.
Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill was chosen to advance to the general election Nov. 2 with 49 percent of voters choosing her for the position. The incumbent Jim McBride followed with 25 percent of votes, with Trent Blankenship and Ted Adams rounding out the field with 15 and 11 percent of votes, respectively.
Incumbent Republican Cynthia Lummis was reelected for U.S. House District 1 with 83,924 votes and 83 percent of the vote. Evan Slafter, who garnered 17,122 votes, or 17 percent, opposed her.
Maxfield’s office said Aug. 19 that unofficial election results were still arriving from some counties, and that there was a possibility of write-in nominations. The statement said tallying was progressing slowly because of the high number of write-ins.
The Secretary of State’s office says that’s because many races had no major political party represented for the primaries, which includes 36 House seats and seven Senate seats that did not have a Democratic candidate. Five House seats and three Senate seats had no Republican candidate filed, and the State Auditor and State Treasurer had no Democratic candidates in the race.
According to Maxfield, to be considered a write-in candidate for a statewide or legislative race a candidate needs a minimum of 25 votes. “Based on the unofficial results that have been received, it appears there is a possibility of a write-in candidate getting the Democratic nomination in the following races: State Auditor and State Treasurer and House Districts 14, 25, 46, and 54,” says a statement from Maxfield’s office.
There was also a possibility of a Republican candidate getting the nomination in House Districts 44, 48, and Senate Districts 7, 9 and 13.
“The county clerks will now do the laborious work of listing each write-in by name. Once that information is received from each participating county, my office will collate the results and we will see if any one individual meets the requirement of 25 votes or greater. If so, the top write-in vote getter may be offered that nomination once the results are canvassed by the State Canvassing Board,” says Maxfield.
Meanwhile, Rita Meyer has endorsed Matt Mead for Wyoming Governor. “As I committed when I announced my candidacy, I will support Matt Mead for Wyoming Governor on Nov. 2 in any way that I can,” she said Aug. 18.
With 10 weeks left before the general election, Mead is said to have a clear advantage against Democratic opponent Leslie Petersen with a political climate currently favoring Republicans.
Reese vouches for small business environmentWritten by Christy Hemken
Shawnee – One of three ranchers running for House District 2 in this election, Brad Reese of Shawnee says he decided to run out of concern for what’s going on in the state.
“Jobs and the economy, and concern for the size and growth of government,” says Reese of his top concerns for Wyoming.
Reese says his only political experience has been with the Douglas school board. “Some count that, and some don’t, but that’s the only race I’ve ever run,” he says.
Reese lives and ranches near Shawnee, where he was born and raised and where his great-grandfather homesteaded. He and his wife and three kids are also involved in the family’s Rocking 7 Ranch Hunting Lodge.
On his campaign website, Reese says, “Besides the debt and spending, there seems to be an attack on our way of life here in Wyoming. The moral fiber that has built this country, no longer seems relevant. The Endangered Species Act is eroding private property rights. Global warming is used as an excuse to increase taxes on the middle class via higher energy rates. Family values are being compromised by so-called human rights and, overall, there is a feeling that America might have already seen its best days. These are big issues that are not going to be fixed overnight – the only way is one step at a time – these are the concerns that motivated me to run for this office.”
Of his campaign so far, Reese says, “You’ve got to get out. The main thing is to meet and talk to a lot of people, and that’s been a very rewarding experience. I’ve met a lot of people from different walks of life, and with different concerns.”
In his campaign stops, Reese says one of the top priorities of Wyoming citizens is the economy, on both a local and national scale. “The economy and jobs are important to me,” he notes. “We need a better environment for new business and small business development. We put up some barriers and roadblocks full of regulatory red tape that make it hard to start a new business or expand an existing business. The state needs to lighten up on the regulatory burden for business development.”
“In addition to our gold mine of natural resources, including coal, solar and wind, we have great potential in other areas, and we need to develop all of them,” he adds.
In his personal small business endeavors in Wyoming, Reese says he’s hit a lot of red tape and regulations. “Why put these regulations on a small business just trying to get started?” he asks. “It seems like we ought to be more open or conducive in getting small businesses started, instead of slapping on four regulations and four agencies an entrepreneur needs to talk to.”
Reese mentions Douglas Meat, a small meat processing plant in Douglas that he owns. “I understand being safe, but I killed 400 without an inspection, and 20 with an inspection. It’s all safe, but the state-inspected meat had to have the multi-page plan to make sure. It seems like we could work to reduce that.”
“I am completely opposed to any increase in taxes, whatever costume you put that tax under,” says Reese of the state’s budget. “Whether it be a ‘fuel tax’ or a ‘toll road,’ I’m opposed to increasing taxes. My answer to those increases is the same that those in businesses know. To run a business you prioritize, spend within your means and save for projects or purchases until you can afford them.”
Reese says his opposition to new taxes includes the wind energy industry. “There are a lot of taxes already in place that will take care of wind, and one of them is the property tax, which is huge,” he explains. “There are millions of dollars of taxes already in place, and I don’t feel like we should nail wind energy, a new industry coming in, with another tax.”
Related to wind energy development, Reese says he feels strongly that private property rights need to be protected and eminent domain for transmission lines should be limited.
“In the beginning when we first had power lines the ranchers were happy to get the electricity to their house. But now it’s turned into a for-profit business, so I feel like now we need fair negotiations with landowners,” he notes. “I think that should include annuity payments. If a landowner has to live with a power line for the rest of his life, it would be nice to be compensated on a yearly basis. Putting the eminent domain stick in the hands of transmission companies makes it a less fair negotiation.”
Reese began with a get-to-know-you campaign at parades and fairs in the district, and now he’s starting door-to-door to meet people face-to-face, as well as frequent forums in Douglas, Newcastle and Lusk to get down to the details of the issues, he says.