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Farm Bureau sponsors candidate forum

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 30th, 2014


Running unopposed, Republican State Representative Hans Hunt was in attendance and addressed the audience concerning several issues. Photo/ Phillip Collins


Candidates for several state offices had the opportunity to make their cases before an audience of Niobrara County residents during the a Farm Bureau-sponsored forum on Thursday, July 24 at the Niobrara County High School auditorium. Each candidate had three minutes to present their campaign platforms. After the presentations, the runners were given allowed to answer questions from the audience.

The first candidate to acquaint himself with the audience was aspiring Secretary of State Ed Buchanan. Raised in Goshen County, Buchanan boasts a working man’s pedigree. The candidate highlights this heritage, citing it as the source of his values and his sense of responsibility. Buchanan’s educational résumé includes a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wyoming and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Colorado. He is no stranger to the political arena, as is evidenced by his 10 years of service in the Wyoming State Legislature.

Buchanan introduced himself as an advocate for values long cherished by Wyoming, namely Republican principles and Constitutional pillars. The candidate claimed that such values would inform his decisions in office.

“I know that you are all here tonight because you love Wyoming and you care about your country,” Buchanan said. “You believe in the Constitution. You believe in states’ rights. You believe in limited government. You deserve a candidate that will fearlessly champion those values. I am that candidate for you.”

Buchanan outlined a five-point plan for his tenure as Secretary of State. The first point of this proposed strategy was the improvement of customer service.

Elaborating on this point, Buchanan said, “There’s a lot of things we can do with technology that will help commerce, specifically agriculture and banking and their interrelationship by doing more with the uniform commercial code and effective finance statements.”

Another point emphasized by the candidate was government transparency. More specifically, Buchanan underscored the labyrinthine series of restrictions and guidelines enshrined by state agencies.

“State agencies promulgate thousands of rules and regulations every year that you don’t even know about,” Buchanan said. “Yet, they have the same force and effect as law. I want to educate the public. I want to get the public involved so we have the right amount of regulations, no unnecessary regulations, and the ones (regulations) that we do are common sense and reasonable.”

The third point enumerated by Buchanan was government efficiency and responsibility. He stated that he would seek to engender these qualities through internal audits.

“Where I can, I will reduce costs and be more efficient with personnel, staff, and a budget as well,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan’s fourth point was the adoption of a more proactive approach to corporate fraud, election fraud, and consumer fraud.

“We don’t want sham companies in Wyoming and we certainly don’t want elections to lose their integrity because if they do, nothing else really matters,” Buchanan said.

The fifth point entailed ambassadorship for Wyoming. Buchanan contended that his presence on strategically sensitive commissions and boards will ensure that the state’s best interests are being served.

“A lot of folks don’t realize that your five top elected officials serve on many boards and commissions,” Buchanan said. “One of the most important to you will be State Lands (Commission) and State Loan and Investment Board. I pledge to you that I will listen to rural communities. I am the only candidate that’s from a rural community. The Secretary of State needs to go statewide, listen to your concerns, and bring back you voice to Cheyenne because government is too centralized in Cheyenne. I will be that ambassador for you.”

Buchanan was followed by fellow candidate Clark Stith, who also underscored the importance of a “smaller, cleaner, and more transparent” government. The aspiring Secretary of State boasts degrees in philosophy, law, and electrical engineering. In 2001, clark became chairman of the Sweetwater County Republican Party, which he supported in its eventual toppling of the Democratic majority. A resident of Rock Springs, Stith practices law and serves on the Rock Springs City Council.

Stith stated that, as a lawyer, he developed a considerable degree of familiarity with the laws that the Secretary of State oversees. This experience, Stith contended, has prepared him for the office he hopes to secure in the forthcoming elections.

“What I do for my day job is to deal with the same laws that the Secretary of State administers,” Stith said.

In addition, Stith highlighted two election law cases that he litigated before the Wyoming Supreme Court. He stated that, given the fact that the Secretary of State is the chief election officer, this experience bolsters his suitability for the office.

Among one of the concerns voiced by Stith was the size of the state government sector. According to the candidate, Wyoming has the highest percentage of its labor force employed by the state government. This is excluding federal and educational employees. Stith stated that, since 2002, the net increase for state government jobs is roughly 1,000. Stith stated that the erosion of core values, not excessive expenses, was the most harmful corollary of this growth.

“We’re often righteously indignant about how much money the federal government spends and federal government overreach, but our state government sector has also grown quite large,” Stith said.

To address the disproportionate size of state employment, Stith stated that he would reduce the staff of the Secretary of State’s office by nine percent over four years. This could be done, he said, by streamlining the business division.

Two other contenders for Secretary of State, Pete Illoway and Ed Murray, were not in attendance.

Running for re-election as State Treasurer is Mark Gordon, who was first appointed to the office in October 2012. Gordon’s record includes the preservation of Wyoming’s AAA credit rating at Standard and Poor’s, the investment of money back in Wyoming, the recovery of funds lost because of sequestration in Washington, and the return of $936.5 million in revenue from the investment portfolio last year. Gordon told the audience that this achievements contributed to the overall prosperity of Wyoming.

“The state is doing very, very well and a lot of the work we have done is coming to fruition,” Gordon said.

A centerpiece of Gordon’s presentation was his plan to invest the $1.8 billion in the so-called “rainy day fund” more broadly, thereby producing a good return. According to the incumbent Treasurer, a voter-approved constitutional amendment would allow him to do this over the next four years.

Gordon’s opponent, Ron Redo, was not in attendance.

Democrat Mike Ceballos and Republican Bill Winney are the two candidates for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Jillian Balow, another Republican contender for the office, was not in attendance. However, her husband did show up to read a prepared statement and field questions. All of the candidates had to deal with questions concerning the controversial Common Core State Standards. While Ceballos was supportive of the initiative, his Republican competitors were overwhelmingly opposed.

While he is running unopposed, Republican State Representative Hans Hunt was in attendance and took the trouble to address the audience concerning several issues. Among those issues were Senate File 104, a bill supporting vocational agriculture, and a constitutional amendment giving local school districts jurisdiction over the prescribing of textbooks and curriculum.

Unopposed State Senator Curt Meier was also in attendance. Like Hunt, he did not let the certainty of his re-election blind him to the necessity of remaining in touch was the voters. Meiers took the stand to denounce Senate File 104, which drew applause from the auditorium. Additionally, Meier underscored the strength of Wyoming’s retirement system and the importance of education.

While none of the contenders for Governor could make it, prepared statements were read for all of them.





For the complete article see the 07-30-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-30-2014 paper.











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