GILLETTE, Wyo. — Election season is well underway and County 17 has sent a list of questions to each candidate who has filed to run for a municipal office.
These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. All candidate responses submitted to County 17 are republished as they are received.
Below, get to know Jim West, who is running for a spot on the Gillette City Council as a representative for Ward 1:
1. Who are you?
My name is Jim West, I was born in Elkhart IN. I have lived in Gillette since 1979. I attended grade school, jr. high in the Campbell County School District and graduated from Campbell County High School in 1992. I received my Associates Degree of Science from Gillette College in 2018. I have been a small business owner in Gillette; Go West Games. I have worked for several local plumbing and construction companies overseeing commercial and residential new construction in our community. Presently I am the General Manager for Property Rehab LLC. Our company specializes in remodels, renovations and repairs of residential properties. Most of my free time is spent working with our youth. For the last 20 years I have been a volunteer youth sports coach in Gillette. Over the past 12 years I have helped build and grow the Gillette Girls Fastpitch Association, a local 501c non-profit. We facilitate three local softball tournaments each year, providing a local place for our youth to compete while bringing in economic revenue to our community. The time I have afterwards is spent with my family and playing with my grandchildren.
- Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I love our community and the opportunities it gives to our children. The world we live in is a scary place, and the very existence of our town is being attacked. Gillette needs to stay strong and fight for what makes us great, energy. We also need to continue to find new and exciting economic opportunities to keep our city alive, and our next generation of citizens a place to live and prosper. I want to attract new families to our community while retaining the ones we have. I hope to ensure our community has the opportunities to grow and prosper with better economic diversity. We don’t need more taxes, we need more avenues of revenue. Embracing and growing our tourism, and sports tourism is a great way to add to Gillette’s portfolio of economic diversity.
- How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
The city administration and the city council needs to continue working with the County and State on avenues to continue the growth of sports tourism in our community. From Little League to our semi-pro teams, there is growth all around that can continue to bring revenue to Gillette. Building and maintaining the highest level of facilities that continues to draw organizations and sports programs to our community. I plan to work with all entities in our area to continually provide these opportunities and grow more.
- What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?
I have been in management most of my adult life, understanding the different facets of business learned in real life, and through continued education, it gives me the benefits needed to balance several areas of a moving organization. The city runs with many different divisions that have unique needs and attention. My work life has taught me how to understand the different working areas of the city and the ability to balance them. In my personal life I have been running youth tournaments for over 10 years. These tournaments have several moving areas that have to work together to be successful, leadership and executing a plan of action always makes our tournaments run smoothly and with few issues. The lessons learned doing both gives me the real life working experience to help the city grow and prosper.
- Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
The taxpayers dollars are what makes up the ability to have a working government and the things we enjoy in our community. Tax dollars need to work for the very people who pay them. Our budget can provide all the services needed in our community, invest in growth and save some for a rainy day. Our taxes should not increase unless we the people vote to increase them. We need to continue to spend our money on the things that grow our city, and provide the best services we can to our citizens. We need a good balance to provide both. Without investing in our future, there may not be one.
- On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?
Outside of personnel issues, very little to nothing in government should be done behind closed doors. We need to be more open to hearing what the citizens of our community are wanting. I think we need to have more open door round table talks with the folks in the City. Let the people express desires and changes they would like to see. The survey for the optional 1% tax is a great baseline for more open communication with the people of Gillette. Having more surveys in general would allow the people to put their suggestion out to the leaders without fear of repercussion or not being heard.
7 . Do you believe the office or board position you seek has been open and honest with the public? If yes, how can the entity remain open and transparent when conducting public business moving forward. If no, what changes would you implement to ensure that all future dealings are open and transparent?
I feel most of the current city council members have been open, in the past it could have been better. I believe most did not truly know they were doing things improper to conducting city business. We need to have policies in place where the current and incoming members of the government have a clear understanding of what is proper behavior and what is not.
- If you are presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?
Knowledge is power in any situation. Without full understanding about what is being discussed, you cannot make an educational or informed decision. I would ask and expect to receive more information at the time of discussion.
- Should you be elected, or re-elected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your chosen office? If yes, what would those changes be? If not, why?
I don’t see any major policy changes needing to take place.
- What impact do you feel sports tourism has on Gillette and does that impact justify the costs of the Energy Capital Sports Complex, commonly referred to as the “Field of Dreams”?
The Sports Complex is one of our cities most prized possessions, and needs to continue to expand. It is the envy of a 5 state area, all who realize the importance of sports tourism. The softball tournament held over the Fathers Day holiday boosted 55 teams and had an economic impact of over $800,000. Just a single organization and a single event. With more fields the tournament could easily grow to over 100 teams. The girls fastpitch programs host 3 tournaments a year there, and the Bulldogs baseball teams host 2 large tournaments there also. The USA State Tournament was hosted there last year, and again this year. Over 50 teams in attendance. This is around $3.2 million a year of financial infusion to Gillette directly from the use of the Energy Capital Sports Complex
Most people don’t understand that the initial cost of the FOD included hundreds of trees, a snow sledding hill, a cross country trail, roadways, parking lot, the four fields and supporting buildings, AND the infrastructure for future growth. Making expansion more affordable in the future.
Now that the muli-sports fields have been added, MANY more of our youth have the opportunity to experience playing and practicing in a complex that is built for them. Not to mention the soccer tournaments, football games, rugby matches and other activities we can host in Gillette. There are people who fail to see the advantage of investing in areas of our community that help with economic growth, those are the people I hope to help see the importance of investing in things like the Field of Dreams.
- How can your community prepare for future economic downturns resulting from volatile energy markets and a potential global shift away from coal?
Our community needs to continue to find other types of economics to ensure the survival of our community. We should continue to embrace our energy sectors and strive to be a national leader in supplying energy. Carbon capture and other industrial areas of growth need to continue, as well as other areas like sports tourism and other events that bring people to our community to spend money. I believe the goal of survival is to find, implement and embrace as many different avenues of revenue we possibly can.