Qualifications: It has been an honor to serve on the council. I grew up in this city, chose to raise a family here, and am committed to doing everything I can to ensure we have a prosperous future. I am running for reelection because I want to continue the work and progress we have made over the last four years. Our state and city face one of the most challenging economic climates in history in the near term so it is essential that we have experienced leadership on the council to guide our city forward. We have a lot of work yet to do!
My legislative experience at the local, state, and federal level, public and private executive experience, legal background, and small business ownership make me uniquely qualified to be a councilman. The job of councilman is complex and requires a diverse skill set to be successful. Having four years of experience now on the job, I know we are regularly asked to evaluate the operations of city government, analyze millions of dollars in our budget, make difficult decisions on land use and planning, negotiate large contracts and purchases, respond to constituent concerns, and leverage our resources to help the community succeed. In order to be effective at this job, one must be able to sort through these complicated issues in a very short time frame. I have the experience and track record that evidence my ability to do just that.
Top three issues:
(1) Lack of plan
Our city has made enormous strides in terms of planning for the future as a result of a resolution I drafted with one of my colleagues at the time and pushed through the council several years ago. It was controversial at the time but has proven essential to our city. This resolution required the creation of a Capital Improvement Plan (“CIP”) that identified, categorized, and prioritized every capital asset of the city. City staff went above and beyond in creating this and it is already guiding a lot of our work, particularly with the 6th penny. We need the same effort when it comes to our revenues and services at the city. We have never as a collective governing body, analyzed all of our services and operations, our revenues expended on each, and made a conscious decision as to what we should be in the business of performing as a city government. This needs to happen with the new administration and council in November. My hope is that a budget footnote I drafted and got passed through Committee of the Whole this budget year successfully sparked the beginning of this critical conversation.
(2) Imbalanced budget
We are required by law to have a “balanced budget.” As to what exactly “balanced” means is open to interpretation. For years I have taken a more detailed approach to this definition and pushed back against the status quo which was a more simplistic analysis that boiled down to simply having dollars on hand to meet recurring expenditures. The status quo resulted in proposals to use scarce reserves to pay for recurring expenses such as payroll, to use one-time money from the state to pay for recurring expenses, to use compulsory fees in sanitation as revenue for balancing the rest of the general fund, and so on. Balanced is a comprehensive term that includes using sustainable revenue streams for appropriate expenditures, finding and dedicating sufficient funds to critical infrastructure, following national accounting best practices in terms of how much in reserves should be on hand at all times, and having optimized overhead expenses so that services can be carried out and employees can be paid a market-based wage. As part of the planning efforts I mentioned in number one above, we must get to a true balanced budget.
(3) Changing economy
Wyoming is at a crossroads. Our economic driver has always been the fossil fuel industry. However, we are seeing now that fossil fuels are under political attack to such a degree that their future role in our economy is in jeopardy. We must fight to preserve that sector of our economy but also account for this political reality and push even harder to diversify our economy with other sectors. I have been involved in many economic development efforts at the local, state, and federal level. The key for Cheyenne going forward is to leverage our position as the new, more business friendly member of the northern Front Range. This means boosting our tech industry footprint, marketing our low taxes and fees, flexible regulatory environment, utilizing our unique situation in terms of ground transportation and proximity to air service, and investing in quality of life projects for the greater Cheyenne Community. This is a comprehensive local, state, and national endeavor and we have the tools in Cheyenne to make this happen. Public and private partnerships are essential to moving the needle on diversification.