1. (250 words) Why are you a candidate for re-election to the House representing District 11 and what qualifications make you the best choice for this office?
Despite what appears to be a rocky road ahead, I am running again to stand by Wyoming and to give 100% to support her through the tough times. With so many legislative retirements in the midst of this challenging period, experience and understanding of Wyoming’s fiscal picture are needed to put Wyoming on a sustainable path for the future. At the same time, we cannot look to the same old tired solutions to take Wyoming out of the boom and bust cycle. It appears that the energy markets have changed in fundamental ways and our policymakers must deal with this new reality rather than assuming our state can limp along until the next mineral boom. This is true despite the ongoing role our traditional energy sources of coal, oil and natural gas will continue to play in the Wyoming economy.
Why do I think I have the right skills to help navigate Wyoming through this time of transition? Throughout my tenure in the House of Representatives, I have strived to build relationships with my colleagues in order to develop consensus that leads to the best solutions for the state of Wyoming. I have never let loyalty to a particular ideology or party drive my decision-making. For this reason, I am in a good position moving forward to present alternative approaches to getting Wyoming through the current downturn and to persuade my colleagues to consider new ideas.
2. (650 words) What are the top three issues the state faces and how do you propose to address each?
Economy-- The headlines have been bleak—thousands of jobs lost, state revenues down, energy companies leaving the state or going bankrupt. Yet, I remain fundamentally optimistic about Wyoming’s future. If we seize control of our destiny and make policy choices based on what is best for Wyoming, our opportunities are limitless:
- Build strong communities to attract new business to Wyoming;
- Invest in our infrastructure, including roads and broadband;
- Support and review economic development efforts to build on our strengths and to determine what will sustain Wyoming long term;
- Improve worker safety-no on should risk life or limb on the job;
- Eliminate regulations that no longer serve a valid purpose; and
- Protect our wide open spaces and public lands to keep Wyoming a special place for this and future generations.
Budget—I voted against the last two budget bills because they were fiscally unsound--cutting and spending irrationally-- making our precarious situation worse. There is a better way:
- Simplify the budget process and put all of Wyoming’s needs and revenues on the table to set priorities;
- Prioritize people over unnecessary capital construction projects ($400 million appropriated in the budget session);
- Avoid austerity cuts that harm the economy, increase job loss, and balance the state budget on the most vulnerable;
- Review government programs and eliminate those that are obsolete—Just because a program was a good idea in the 70’s, doesn’t mean we need it today; and
- Expand Medicaid and save Wyoming money, while providing healthcare to thousands of Wyoming’s low -income workers. (For 4 years, politics has trumped good old-fashioned Wyoming common sense on this issue).
Education-Now is not the time to weaken Wyoming’s historic commitment to education. A strong K-12 and higher education system will attract families and businesses to Wyoming. We need to:
- Spend more time teaching and less time testing—I succeeded in passing legislation to eliminate a portion of PAWS;
- Promote lifelong learning and job training for an educated work force;
- Enhance early childhood education;
- Maintain adequate K-12 education funding; and
- Insure that Laramie County’s school construction needs are met—I have worked closely with our school district to get the state to honor its commitment to replace Carey Junior High and address our overcrowded schools