By Sarah Pridgeon
Bruce Brown has announced that he will run for the House Representative seat in House District #1. The position is currently filled by Representative Mark Semlek, who will be retiring when his term expires at the end of the year.
Brown is well equipped to hold a Legislative seat, he says, thanks to his long background of public service.
“I have a rich experience in serving on boards and commissions, starting back in the late 90s. I’ve been a member of the hospital board for quite a while and currently I serve as a commissioner for the Wyoming Community College Commission,” he elaborates.
“I’ve also held a lot of offices in economic development organizations – I was part of the Wyoming Economic Development Association board for a while.”
Brown is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and holds an MBA from the University of Wyoming. He is currently working towards his doctorate in Educational Leadership.
“I believe strongly in lifelong learning,” he says.
“I have a well-rounded background and I grew up in Wyoming, so I understand the Wyoming issues.”
For the last decade, Brown’s aim in life has been to serve the public. During the process of completing a Leadership Wyoming program in 2002, he wrote a mission statement to transition his life to perform public service.
“It’s also in the mission of my CPA practice that I do public service,” he says. “Something that’s meaningful and dear to my heart is to serve the public.”
Brown ran twice for the position of State Auditor and also made the shortlist for State Treasurer in 2012.
“I’ve been working at it for a long time and, when Mark [Semlek] decided to retire, I thought well there’s a great opportunity for me to serve the State of Wyoming,” he says.
“I talked to some people and they were very excited about the possibility of me running, so I talked it over with my family and they said go for it. It’s not easy running a campaign and I’ve put my family through two statewide campaigns, so I wanted to make sure they were good with it and they were all on board.”
Brown believes his time as Chairman of the Crook County Hospital Board has demonstrated his abilities. When he was elected, he says, the county was very close to losing its nursing home.
“I worked really hard and now we’ve come a long, long way.
“We’re on the right track, so I think I’ve exhibited some of my leadership capabilities in bringing us right from the brink of disaster at the hospital,” he says.
“Now we’re up and coming. When I stepped down from chair in November, our cash position was much improved from when I took over, so I’m really proud of how the hospital is going and to have been part of that process with the board.”
Brown’s current focus is on four specific issues, beginning with the landfill situation.
“The DEQ is closing a lot of landfills and they’re not really coming across with a lot of money to help these communities do it. These are smaller communities in Crook and Weston Counties and that’s a big bill to shoulder,” he explains.
“I want to make sure that we get money pushed down from the state to help with those landfill closures and make sure we get it done right and without bankrupting all the cities.”
Brown would also like to see money directed to the cities and towns in House District #1, to make sure each one is well funded.
“It’s always a challenge financially with the smaller communities,” he nods.
“I just want to make sure that we get our fair share in House District #1.”
An issue that isn’t often mentioned, he says, is the use of public lands. Brown fears that we may have become a little complacent in protecting multiple uses and access to public lands in this region.
“That leads into local control. I do a lot of training in what’s called Lean Manufacturing and, when we talk about that, we talk about getting to the people who are closest to the work to get the good ideas on how to do things and how to improve your systems,” he explains.
“That’s the landowners and the managers of the lands in Crook and Weston Counties – we know how to do it. When you drive round our county and see how beautiful it is, I can’t see how we’ve done too bad a job of managing our lands, so that goes back to keeping the feds off our back.”
Brown’s final issue of interest is also related to local control and loosening federal oversight, he says.
“I’m working on my doctorate in education and one thing that really bothers me is loss of local control. The people who are educating our kids in our local towns and our parents know what they want,” he says.
“It’s keeping the feds off our back again and making sure that we don’t lose our local control, because we have a bunch of really talented people in Crook and Weston County and we know what we’re doing. We don’t need everybody looking over our shoulder to tell us how to do it.”
Brown is anticipating the campaign trail with pleasure and looks forward to meeting the public and hearing their concerns.
“At the end of the day, being a representative, the people need to know what I think so they’ll know where I stand, but it’s all about what the people of Crook and Weston County want to happen in our State of Wyoming,” he says.
“I’m more than willing to listen and learn and get the job done.”