(Gillette, Wyo.) Rodger Solomon is among 11 candidates going for the vacant Ward 1 position on the Gillette City Council.
He ran seven years ago for the same seat, losing to Kevin McGrath.
“I think I came in fourth or fifth,” Solomon said.
McGrath recently resigned from the council, citing personal reasons, and Solomon wants to give it another go.
“I’d like to do something for the community rather than just complaining about it all the time,” he said.
He said, if the council selects him, he would bring to the position a range of life experience. He’s been a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He’s run a small business. He worked for the state as a janitor. He worked in the print shop, and he was an intern in the sales tax department.
He has a degree in accounting.
He’s also volunteered as a firefighter for the BLM, working with the helitac crews that fight fires from helicopters. He’s also worked in the pumper units.
Solomon said he was born in Gillette and lived 41 of his 61 years here. All the rest were in other Wyoming towns. He remembers when the borders of the town were 4J and the Douglas highway to the east and west, and the cemetery and train tracks marked the north and south boundaries.
He wants to bring to the council a greater reluctance to spend money.
“When it comes to spending, I’m very conservative,” he said.
He’s opposed to government spending on social services. He said a lot of non-profits are worthwhile causes that do good for the community. He just doesn’t think people should be forced to pay for them.
“If I want to give to a non-profit, I will give to it,” he explained.
Another example of cuts Solomon believes the council should make would be the Avenues of Art.
“To me, it’s a luxury,” he said.
He is critical of some of the job cuts that were made to the city during the slowdown, such as position in the police department and information-technology department. By serving on the council, he said, he would gain more insight into why such cuts were made.
He said over the years, as spending has grown, he’s watched the sales tax climb from 3 percent to 5 percent and up. He points to the Optional 1-percent tax, as it’s known, as an example of government excess.
“It’s not optional anymore. It’s something they have to have,” he said.
He believes the way things are going, we could “easily” see sales tax climb to 6 or 7 percent over the next decade.
He points to a time when individuals and private organizations initiated quality of life projects, rather than government. As an example, he points to the baseball park the American Legion built and how the hospital was once privately run. He would like to see the private sector and non-profits taking more of a role, as was the case at one time.
“The people did this….We did it,” he said.
In addition to Solomon, the current candidates include Shawn Neary, Darin Edmonds, Lynne Huskinson, Matthew Williamson, Pam Boger, Terry Sjolin, Michael Surface, Jason Stovall, Bruce Brown, and Ty Case.
Shawn Neary, Darin Edmonds, and Lynne Huskinson have not returned requests for interviews. We hope to profile Matthew Williamson later this week.
The City Council will conduct interviews of the applicants on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. in the second-floor community room at City Hall. The council will pick a final appointee on Dec. 19 at the regular meeting of the city council.