Candidates Talk Issues at Chamber Luncheon
The Campbell County Chamber of Commerce hosted a monthly luncheon Tuesday and invited the candidates in various local and state races to talk to chamber members about their positions on important issues.
Mayor Louise Carter-King kicked off the event, expressing a lot of optimism for the future of the city.
“It’s going to be an exciting place,” the incumbent said.
She pointed to Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ plan to test carbon capture technology at the Integrated Test Center as one of the many bright spots to come.
Carter-King was mayor through the bust of the past few years. She said she wanted to continue serving as mayor as the area economy improves.
“We have to work together in partnerships to make this a great place to live,” she said.
Carter-King is running against Jarik Dudley, who was unable to attend the event. He said he was celebrating his anniversary with his wife and children.
Three of the candidates for governor also spoke at the event.
Republican candidate Mark Gordon touted his support for the energy industry, while also supporting conservation of public lands.
As an avid hunter and fisherman, Gordon said he understood the need to protect recreational lands.
Gordon talked about his record as Wyoming treasurer under current Governor Matt Mead, saying he greatly improved the state’s return on its investments.
He said one of his priorities is to continue his record of fiscal conservatism to ensure Wyoming “lives within its means.”
Constitution Party candidate Rex Rammell said his main goal as governor would be to keep the federal government at bay in Wyoming.
“It really controls the West. I’ve never liked that,” Rammell said.
He explained his experience in politics and why he chose not to run under the Republican Party ticket. He said he really didn’t feel the party was giving him the space to fix things the way he wants.
“I’d like to see Wyoming become a sovereign state,” he said.
Democratic candidate Mary Throne began by talking about her family’s homesteading roots in Campbell County. She is still a land and mineral owner in the county, she said.
She also dispelled any notion that she is not supportive of the energy industry.
“I’m an energy person to my core,” she said.
She recounted how in the 1980s bust, the bank where she held an account went bankrupt. It was a depressing time, she said. As governor, she stated she would work to get Wyoming out of its “boom and bust” cycle.
She said her opponents are not really offering solutions to this problem.
“We keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” she said.
During a brief question period, the gubernatorial candidates were asked about mental health care. Gordon said he was supportive of those services and praised the legislature for its support of mental healthcare.
Rammell stated the best way to improve mental health services was to improve the economy. He said the federal government takes about $1 billion in mineral royalties. With that money, Wyoming could address needs, such as mental health care.
Mary Throne criticized the state’s decision to forgo Medicaid expansion money over the required 10 percent match.
She said by doing so, the state opted out of $577 million in money for healthcare services it badly needs.
House District 31 candidates Scott Clem and David Hardesty also spoke to the chamber crowd at the luncheon.
Clem, the Republican incumbent, said he was supportive of the National Rifle Association and a pro-life candidate. He expressed support for economic diversification and described himself as fiscally conservative.
“I’m a fiscal hawk,” he said.
If reelected, he indicated he would work to improve transparency in Wyoming government.
“Before we talk about increasing taxes, we need to know what we’re spending money on,” Clem said.
He was also critical of cuts that were made in previous legislative sessions.
“Our cuts targeted the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Hardesty, running against Clem as an independent candidate, has been a teacher in Wyoming for over 12 years. He said he would oppose further cuts to education.
He was also opposed to any transfer of federal lands to the state. He said large swaths of land in Nevada that were previously under federal control went to the state. Much of that public land, which was once public land for recreation, is now closed to the public.
House District 32 candidates were the last to speak at the event. Republican incumbent Tim Hallinan was unopposed in the primaries, but since then, independent candidate Chad Trebby has jumped into the race.
Hallinan said he was NRA endorsed and pro-life. He has a degree in economics from Stanford University and would continue putting his knowledge of economics to work in the legislature.
He stated he would seek other areas to cut from education that wouldn’t take away from students and teachers, such as administration budgets.
He also indicated he’d work to improve broadband internet access, which is integral to economic diversification.
Trebby discussed his career in law enforcement and how his belief in community participation led him to enter the House race.
He said, if elected, he would support education and increase access to public lands. He would also scrutinize state contracts to provide health care to determine if they’re really providing value to clients.
“People are ready for change, and I am that change,” Trebby said.