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Campbell County Candidate Questionnaire: Jim Ford for County Commissioner

Jim Ford, candidate for Campbell County Board of Commissioners. (Photo provided by Jim Ford)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — County 17 has sent out a questionnaire to those running in the primary election in August. The following are the answers from Jim Ford, who is running for Campbell County Commissioner.

  1. Please introduce yourself and describe your educational and employment history. Please include your name and hometown and highlights of past Campbell County involvement.

My name is Jim Ford and I was born in Gillette in 1973.  The importance of a strong work ethic was instilled in me early on growing up at our family shop C&F Repair Service. After graduating from Campbell County High School and Casper College I worked in construction and for various energy service companies, and over 25 years have spanned a wide range of jobs in the local and regional energy industries.   I am a partner in and General Manager of the Fort Union Industrial Park, a successful reclamation and re-development of a shuttered mine site that currently is home to seven industrial businesses.  I was involved in the construction and operation of the Atlas Carbon manufacturing facility and currently work in the development of low carbon energy solutions at the Integrated Test Center and the Wyoming Innovation Center to commercialize coal derived products.

  1. Why have you decided to run for this office? Compared with other candidates running in this election, why are you the best candidate for this position?

We all have a responsibility to serve our families, neighbors, and community when and where we can.  I am blessed to live in a strong and vibrant Campbell County that owes much to the disciplined decisions of past leaders.  Serving as a Commissioner is one way that I can pay back.  I believe that conserving our heritage and identity is critical, while also knowing that we must respond to very real changes in our society.

  1. The position you are running for has minimum criteria. Do you believe there are additional qualifications that would help the person who will hold this office be best suited for the position? If so, how do you meet those additional qualifications? And in what ways can you improve as a leader?

I believe that the most important qualification is to be willing to put service before self, and I am committed to that standard.  In business leadership it is typical that groups or teams already have very tightly aligned interests and shared goals. In government leadership it is necessary to serve a broader and diverse range of stakeholders, I am looking forward to that challenge and see it as an opportunity to leverage my past experiences.

  1. How have you approached any challenges you have encountered in working with public officials, government agencies and the public? What do you believe the Board of County Commissioners can improve on in its relationships with other entities?

Administering an enterprise as large as our County government requires building relationships on trust  and mutual respect.  The Commissioners office must continue to work alongside the other elected offices as peers.  Department heads and volunteer board members are critical to lead and support the operations of the County, they need to be granted the proper balance of responsibility and authority and then be held responsible to run their business without being micromanaged.

  1. What is your vision for the future of Campbell County? What, if any, new initiatives would you like to implement if elected?

My vision for the future is a surely a positive one, our best days are ahead of us!  Campbell County will continue be an energy powerhouse within the State.  Our workers will ensure that our abundant natural resources answer the callfor the secure and reliable energy that is critical to this Nation well into the future.

I see a growing population and a diversification of business that builds on the solid community that has been built on agricultural and energy sectors.

I would like to see the County Commission choose to shift its focus more towards long term fundamental matters that require disciplined and strategic planning.  Working closely with Gillette and Wright on revenue replacement strategies, diversification of tax base and expansion of the small business sector deserve attention.

  1. What are the biggest challenges facing Campbell County that the Board of County Commissioners can address? How do you plan to address them? How can Campbell County prepare for future economic downturns resulting from volatile energy markets and a global shift away from coal?

The erosion of the domestic markets for thermal coal is the issue that will have the single greatest impact to our local economy; both personal earnings and tax revenues.  While oil and natural gas are currently strong, we must plan for a time when we must rely less on the energy industries.  Efforts to support and diversify our private business sectors is critical.  Population continues to grow so basic infrastructure, housing and quality of life investments will be even more important for a vibrant future in Campbell County.

Governments need to provide for a friendly business environment without unnecessary and restrictive regulations, plan for and provide critical infrastructure.

Ford did not complete the following questions that County 17 included in its questionnaire for commissioner candidates:

  • How will you effectively manage taxpayer dollars? Do you plan to promote any changes to existing taxes? If so, why? Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? If so, which area of the budget and why should it be protected from any cuts?
  • Are county land-use regulations and permitting processes doing enough to assure the public interest or are they too onerous?
  • Is there anything else voters should know about you?