The Saratoga Sun -

State Representative, Dist. 47

 


Democratic Party

Ken Casner

Some of the qualifications Casner listed in his questionnaire include one three-year term on the Economic Development Corporation of Carbon County, three years on the High Country Landfill Joint Powers Board and two years as a City Councilman for Elk Mountain.

Though he says “Economic diversity really does not come from one elected official,” Casner offers some ideas for broadening Wyoming’s job market. Providing natural gas pipelines to the communities of Dixon, Encampment, Elk Mountain, Riverside and Savery would be a priority for Casner, if elected. Another key to providing economic rejuvenation to Carbon County would be a highway project, Casner says. “Instead of building a new capitol, our district could rebuild Highway 30 between Walcott and Laramie, making it a light truck and private vehicle access only.” He adds that the rebuilt road could allow semi traffic under emergency weather conditions.

On the topic of a proposed increase in the wind power excise tax, Casner says, “I feel we should keep our current rate and prepare a tax rate based on growth and the wattage produced.” He cites Texas as a good example of a state that is successfully harnessing wind power for revenue, and says Wyoming needs a “well thought out plan in the next two years.”

A project for which Casner says he enlisted bipartisan support was changing the signage for Elk Mountain on Interstate 80. The sign for the town used to read simply Elk Mountain, but Casner writes that through his and others’ efforts the sign now reads Town of Elk Mountain. If elected, “I (will) voice your concerns to the whole body, not by party,” Casner promises.

Areas in which Casner says he would like to work in the legislature include committees concerned with wind, water and public lands. He also expressed interest in addressing citizen concerns about “public access, taxation, education, industrial siting permits, and healthcare.”

“It is evident Wyoming requires change,” Casner writes. “My goal is to earn (constituents’) respect as their voice.”

REPUBLICAN Party

Julie McCallister

What qualifications or experiences do you think would make you a good representative for District 47?

I have a Bachelors in Political Science, and a Masters in Public Administration from UW. I worked for almost seven years in different aspects of the oil and gas industry. The sole purpose of a politician is to be a public servant, servitude to the voters. I care about what happens to Wyoming, and everyone in it. I will be the first person to admit when I do not know something. This is a big district, and it needs someone who will work as hard as the district is large. It is a challenging district to campaign, and even more challenging to represent properly. I will outwork anyone else, and in my whole life I have never been accused of different. I also believe it is imperative that you listen to your voters, they are your most valuable resource.

For years, a lack of economic diversity has left Wyoming open to the boom and bust cycle of oil and coal markets. Do you have any economic policy proposals that would address this issue?

Oil, coal and gas markets are important to the economy of Wyoming. They almost always have been, and they will continue to be. A lot of the time what government can do to help diversity and jobs is to stay out of the way. NOT pass regulations or laws that will interfere with the free market. The best ideas for diversification and job development come from working with the job makers. This includes taking the time and effort to talk to industries across the state and see what ideas can be collaborated.

What House committees or leadership positions would you pursue if elected?

My interest in is serving my district, not myself. I would rather be effective in my position by representing my district ethically and properly. Any interest I have in committees or possible leadership positions would be born out of my desire to be a good legislator. I have a great deal of concern about education/ appropriations and our state lands. But it is not necessary to sit on the committee to be an effective legislator; all it would mean is working as much overtime as is necessary to make it clear to a committee that something is a priority. This is the more labor intensive, but more effective way to approach any issues about committees and leadership positions. This job is not about serving yourself, it is about being a PUBLIC SERVANT.

In what areas could you foresee yourself working with members of the opposite party? Can you name an instance in which you worked with members of the opposite party to solve a problem?

I have a great deal of friends and family who oppose me strongly in political positions. The reason we stay friends, is that we have mutual respect for each other. Party serving politics is completely useless, pandering legislation. Very often in life the best ideas might come from the most unlikely sources, and the best decisions are almost always some form of compromise.

The State Legislature Interim Joint Revenue Committee has recently proposed increasing taxes on wind energy produced in the state, even if that means the Chokecherry/ Sierra Madre wind farm is not built. What is your opinion on this proposal?

We tax our wind higher than just about any other state. Recently, I have been fortunate enough to have some voter input on wind energy that has been very insightful, showing some of the lack of efficiency issues, federal subsidies, and other issues. All of this information has been extremely useful to me. It is difficult to have one set option on wind energy. I have a number of friends, and voters who work for the wind farms, and they are decent jobs. I am always open to more voter input on all subjects, including this one. In particular on taxation of wind, I am VERY much against raising any taxes to fix the mistakes of the past legislature. This current recession was warned of again, and again. No action was taken until the very last minute. Voters should not have to pay more for those mistakes.

What goals do you have for your time in office?

To be honest, my goals are very high. I would like to be instrumental in turning around our economic picture. Planning much better to support jobs, and support our voters. Cover the gaps in our state health insurance, from state run sources that are reliable. While these goals are very high, I am also a realist. The only thing I can guarantee voters is that I will never stop trying, or working as hard and as long as it takes.

Jerry Paxton

What qualifications or experiences do you think would make you a good representative for District 47?

I spent 34 years as an educator which certainly provides an opportunity to develop the people skills necessary to meet the challenges of dealing with other members of the State Legislature. I have had experience at several levels of government as Town Councilman and Mayor of both Riverside and Encampment, I served six years as a county commissioner before being elected to the House of Representatives. I think this experience helps me understand the issues faced by local governments. I have had ample opportunity to whet my leadership skills as President of the Wyoming Vocational Agriculture Teacher’s Association and President of the Wyoming Vocational Association. I also served as the first teacher on the National FFA Board of Directors and served on the National Council for Agriculture Education and was Vice-President for the last three years.

For years, a lack of economic diversity has left Wyoming open to the boom and bust cycle of oil and coal markets. Do you have any economic policy proposals that would address this issue?

There are many opportunities to diversify our revenue stream in Wyoming and here are two examples. In Wyoming, we have a lifestyle that is unmatched with low taxes, low population density, great schools, a safe, healthy environment and almost unlimited outdoor recreation opportunities. We live in the electronic age where it is possible to conduct an enormous amount of business without actually leaving your home. This requires high capacity ultra-fast internet connectivity. I would hope we will be able to continue to build this connectivity and capacity to expand opportunities for tele-commuters. We have an abundance of dead trees in our forests with very little opportunity to make productive use of the woody biomass. It would seem prudent to create a woody biomass industry to utilize this resource and manage our forests responsibly rather than let it go up in smoke. There are many new and emerging industries in this field that should be encouraged to locate in our state.

What House committees or leadership positions would you pursue if elected?

I am currently serving on two standing committees. The Education Committee and Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions. I also serve on four select committees. The Select Committee on Statewide Accountability, the Select Committee on Capital Finance and Investments, the Select Natural Resources Funding Committee, and the Select Water Committee. In addition I am serving on the Special Districts Task Force and the Governor’s Task Force on Forests. If reelected, I would like to continue serving all of the committees and task forces on which I am currently serving.

In what areas could you foresee yourself working with members of the opposite party? Can you name an instance in which you worked with members of the opposite party to solve a problem?

In Wyoming the party lines are usually quite blurred so I do not consider party affiliation when deciding whether or not to support a bill. I have worked closely with members of the Democratic Party on many issues and have a great deal of respect for their opinions. If you consider the votes on almost any bill you will find there are very few that follow party lines. We all have the same goal–to be advocates for our constituents.

The State Legislature Interim Joint Revenue Committee has recently proposed increasing taxes on wind energy produced in the state, even if that means the Chokecherry/ Sierra Madre wind farm is not built. What is your opinion on this proposal?

I do not support increasing the taxes on wind farms and will continue to vigorously oppose any effort by the Revenue Committee to change the current tax structure. The Power Company of Wyoming has invested millions of dollars and countless hours to develop wind energy in Carbon County and a transmission line to carry energy to other states. It would be a huge financial blow to the county and to the state if tax increases forced the company to abandon its plans.

What goals do you have for your time in office?

As we head toward the primary election on August 16th the state is facing many challenges that will require legislators who are dedicated and resolute if we are to preserve the Wyoming way of life. The biggest challenge will be to learn how to do more with less as declining revenues continue to plague the state. We must find a way to continue to fund school facilities as the Coal Lease Bonus funds diminish to zero. We must continue to resist the overreach of the federal government as politicians and bureaucrats continue their assault on the public lands that are so crucial to the state. Preservation of our water rights will be a challenge as downstream users continue to find new ways to divert our water to uses in other states. It is important to protect and preserve our mineral extraction industries as well as tourism as we struggle to diversify our economy. I will continue to speak against an increase in taxes for wind farms and attempt to help smooth the path for the completion of Power Company of Wyoming’s transmission line and wind facility.

I would like to see some major reform in the certification process for principals and superintendents, as they are crucial players in developing great schools. It is also time we addressed the many issues facing the Native American population, especially those regarding K-12 education. I will work with other educators on the Education Committee to eliminate phase II of school accountability.

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