Term: Four years, no term limits
Who can vote: Only voters living within a particular Ward vote on candidates from that Ward.
Salary: $120 per day of work
Benefits: Travel reimbursements
Others serving: Nine councilmembers serve staggered terms, three from each Ward. In Wards 1 and 2, two open seats will be filled, with the victor in the General Election joining Andrea Summerville (Ward 1) and Dave Paulekas (Ward 2) whose terms are not up. In Ward 3, one open seat will be filled, with the victor in the General Election joining Klaus Hanson and Bryan Shuster whose terms are not up.
What are your qualifications for office? Include two specific reasons that motivate you to run.
Vicki Henry (Ward 1): I have been serving on Laramie City Council for three and one-half years after I was elected in November 2011. Prior to my service on City Council, I served seven years on the Laramie Planning Commission. I also served on several citizen advisory groups and non-profit organizations prior to my election. I am passionate about providing parks, trails and open spaces for our residents and visitors, as well as preserving habitat for our native wildlife and plants. I am also specifically interested in updating and maintaining our infrastructure, including water resources, streets and wastewater services.
Erik Molvar (Ward 1): I’ve lived in Laramie for 16 years, and I’m running to be a voice for Laramie residents on the city council that’s not beholden to special interests. I served on the City council from 2008 through 2012. In 2012, I served on the National League of Cities’ Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources task force, as well as Governor Mead’s Council on Impaired Driving. As a city council representative, I protected the West Side from being split by the Harney Viaduct, worked to improve infrastructure and lower utility bills, and got curbside recycling implemented, which lessened garbage rate hikes.
Tanna Nagy (Ward 2 write-in): My qualifications for city council are simple. I am a long term resident of Laramie and I care. I was surprised that no one was running for Ward 2. The timing seemed right. This seemed like my opportunity to do what I always thought about but wasn’t able to do. I want to protect yet promote Laramie’s uniqueness. I care deeply about Laramie’s history as well as its future.
Joe Shumway (Ward 2): Qualifications include living within both the city limits and ward boundaries. A candidate must be a registered voter and pay a $25 registration fee. The reasons I seek a seat on the city council is first a passion to serve and secondly to use my experience to assist during the difficult economic challenges ahead.
Pat Gabriel (Ward 3): I served as Albany County Commissioner for 5 terms, 1991-2010. In that time I learned how to cooperate with other government agencies and was successful in working with a variety of people in various positions. I am running for City Council Ward 3 with no specific agenda but to work together with all agencies to make our community the best it can be. We all must be willing to often times compromise on issues in order to see it through the governmental process.
Brent Roth (Ward 3): I have a vision for the future and a desire to serve the community. I was reared in Laramie and have a strong connection to the community. I attended Laramie schools and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from U.W. I have worked for Sampson Construction as a project manager for three years. I am a hard worker, give attention to detail, and care about this community. I am committed to making a positive difference and plan to bring new ideas and diversity to the council. As an Engineer I possess problem solving skills based in science and engineering.
How should the City Council and County Commission secure Casper Aquifer protection, considering that: 1) it lies almost exclusively in the County and, 2) it provides between 50 and 80 percent of the City of Laramie’s municipal water?
Vicki Henry (Ward 1): The City and County need to somehow come together in aquifer protection protocol. Currently we are divided about how to best protect the aquifer. If possible, residences and businesses should connect to City Water and Sewer. There is a greater cost for the developer but, in the long run, it will be safer for all residents who depend on the Casper Aquifer for their drinking water. Electing new county commissioners with a passion for safe drinking water would be helpful. The City should pursue purchasing vacant land in the Casper Aquifer Protection Area to prevent further development.
Erik Molvar (Ward 1): Every Laramie resident deserves clean water coming out of their tap; we don’t want to end up like Flint, Michigan. The long-term solution is to purchase the undeveloped land over the aquifer recharge zone; we shouldn’t add more septic systems here. Governor Mead proposed $15 million to buy these lands in the 2012 state budget. Today, state funds are scarce. Laramie should seek grant funding, perhaps from federal open-space grants, and work with county commissioners to bolster the weak county Aquifer Protection Plan so we don’t add even more septic systems that discharge into sensitive aquifer recharge zones.
Tanna Nagy (Ward 2 write-in): First and foremost I personally do not want contaminates in my drinking water. Going in with this mind set, I understand that I do not know all the intricacies of this issue. However, my plan is to listen to all sides of the issue and do all that I can to prevent future contamination, with an err to caution. Hopefully, leadership can work together and come to a resolution that is safe and acceptable.
Joe Shumway (Ward 2): The Casper Aquifer is absolutely vital. The city and county both agree that aquifer protection is essential. I believe that the council and commissioners can reach an agreement that has elements of (1) citizen input (2) elected officials cooperation and (3) the vital direction from water and geology professionals.
Pat Gabriel (Ward 3): The first thing both Council and Commissioners need to do is meet on a regular basis to iron out the issues that are most important to each body. Following that, aquifer experts must be selected by both Council and Commissioners in order to establish the best method to protect the aquifer in the coming years. Aquifer protection is something that must be achieved, therefore elected officials must come together in order to establish an agreement that will serve all residents.
Brent Roth (Ward 3): The Casper Aquifer is very important. The expense of treating contaminated water outweighs the investment of protection. Through coordination with the County, WYDOT, and landowners we need to insure best practices are followed to prevent contamination. The risk of contamination from the I-80 corridor is high and an area of concern. I am opposed to taking of land by regulation. I would propose we dedicate a portion of sales tax to the purchase of property as it becomes available. The solution to protecting the aquifer will be done through relationship building and science.
Given declining state funding to Wyoming cities and counties, what specific ideas do you have for reducing expenses and/or increasing local government revenues?
Vicki Henry (Ward 1): We cannot reduce too many expenses without compromising our customer service to residents. It is time to look at new revenue streams. A specific purpose tax or municipal bonds can be used for crucial infrastructure needs, such as paving all of Laramie’s streets and installing proper storm water drainage systems. Laramie could also initiate a 7th-cent sales tax to fund our street repairs and maintenance. Lodging taxes could be increased. We can no longer depend on antiquated energy severance formulas. Let’s increase our pride in our resources, which in turn increases value to those who remove this state’s resources.
Erik Molvar (Ward 1): Maintaining high-quality city services while balancing the budget as state contributions shrink will be a major challenge. We’ll need to think outside the box, seeking grants to offset state budget shortfalls. Major infrastructure funding may become available, and the city can prepare shovel-ready projects to capture these funds. Laramie needs to keep pace with water and sewer maintenance, while bringing our streets up to standard, particularly in West Laramie and the south side, without saddling residents with unaffordable bills. Maintaining our qualified and talented staff through these lean years will be key to maintaining Laramie’s outstanding quality of life.
Tanna Nagy (Ward 2 write-in): Not knowing the specifics of the current and future budgets, this is a hard question to answer. However, finding creative solutions that include grants, public/private partnerships and perhaps volunteerism is a good place to start. I am sure there will be a learning curve for me when it comes to the details of the city budget, but I am up for that challenge.
Joe Shumway (Ward 2): The Laramie general funds haven't varied much for decades. A dedicated team of City employees have demonstrated an ability to provide essential services with limited general and enterprise funding. I am generally opposed to new taxes and/or additional fees to increase revenue. The State of Wyoming still has billions of dollars in reserve accounts. My hope is that State funds from investment earnings will be made available and shared equitably.
Pat Gabriel (Ward 3): The answer is not easy as declining revenues mean a hard look at all services provided by local government. One of the best ways to view this question is not to fill current vacancies. As a Council member I would rely on staff input to assist in decisions to reduce expenses. As a 9 person Council other ideas would be discussed among the group as to best balance the budget. Grant writing would be very important to the City but in these tough times we all must do more with less.
Brent Roth (Ward 3): Managing a balanced budget requires attention to expenditures. Budget cutting has its place but our highest priority in preservation should be to life safety, infrastructure, and delivery of services. We need to hold budgets and perform value engineering when needed. Laramie needs to be a business friendly town. The majority of our revenue comes from sales and use tax. We should continue to support the LCBA and work to secure sites for business ready developments. Economic growth is key to increasing revenue.
Not responding: Candidates who did not respond are: Ward 1: Morgan Fallas, Charles D. McKinney and William Swett. Ward 3: Nicole Candelaria, Jael Lemus, Joel Lemus and Shane Swett.