Candidates come calling

Pair of gubernatorial candidates make stops in Sundance on Monday

 

Gordon touts experience, accomplishments

By Sarah Pridgeon

State Treasurer and Republican candidate for the governor’s seat Mark Gordon hosted a gathering at the Longhorn Saloon & Grill on Monday, meeting with voters along with his wife, Jennie. Addressing the crowd, he spoke of his hopes for Wyoming if he is elected – and the work he has done so far.

“Jennie and I are thrilled that we are out on the road and Crook County is one of our favorite counties. I mentioned this the other night and I also bragged up on Crook County because you guys do more for Republican causes than any other county I can think of,” Gordon said.

(Jeff Moberg photo) Jennie and Mark Gordon.
(Jeff Moberg photo) Jennie and Mark Gordon.

“Per capita, you guys are the best, and I bragged because this is the county that, every time I’ve run for state office, and this is the third time, you guys have always voted for me. Thank you very, very much.”

When Gordon and his wife began talking about running for governor, he said, it was because of the opportunities Wyoming has offered them personally. Gordon said he has worked for companies including a Fortune 500, has built ranches in Johnson, Campbell and Sheridan counties and has had business on the main streets of Sheridan and Johnson counties, he said, including a movie theater.

“We know what kind of work that takes. We’ve raised our kids together and the opportunities this state has provided are the things we want to make sure are provided for the kids and grandkids,” he said.

Gordon said he believes those opportunities are built on three principles he calls the “platform of prosperity”. The first is for Wyoming to learn to live within its means, the second is to get government out of the way.

“Wyoming has got primacy, and primacy is a critical thing for Wyoming – get the federal government out of the way, get state government to regulate in a common sense way that’s accountable. That’s critical,” he said. “The third thing is that we’ve got to have a good, strong education system, one that weathers the good and the bad times.”

Gordon also spoke to his familiarity with Crook County and its push for prosperity.

“You’re a long ways from Cheyenne, but you guys kind of make it happen,” he said. “I know you guys don’t have exactly the same mineral situation as Campbell County does, and yet you guys seem to have a wonderful, prosperous community with a phenomenal Main Street, and we’d like to be a part of that.”

Gordon described some of the work he has done in his position as State Treasurer. “I’m really proud of the stuff we’ve accomplished over the last six years,” he said.

Getting Amendment A passed was a huge thing for Wyoming, he said, and in addition the state has changed the way it invests its money.

“We just got rated as the number one most transparent fund in the country, number three in the world, and I told New Zealand and Norway to watch out, we’re coming,” Gordon said. “We’ve also been highly ranked and had the best returns we’ve had in ten years. Knowing how tough things are and can be in the mineral industry, it’s really good we have good, solid Wyoming folks running those funds now.”

To ensure the work he has done stays in place, Gordon says he put in place an advisory board “two arms length away from politics”, and changed the interval on retaining an investment consultant to be sure that, with the SLIB board undergoing significant change in personnel after the coming elections, the new board has at least a year of experience with the current advisor and the portfolio before that change.

“Those are things we’ve done to try to bring some real stability to that office, and it’s critical that we have that going forward,” he said.

Other achievements Gordon mentioned include redesigning the system for unclaimed property so more of it gets out the door in a more efficient manner and updating the securities that communities can invest in to increase the returns that counties and municipalities can achieve from their investments.

Gordon grew up on the family ranch in Johnson County and graduated from college in 1979. He served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City for five years and was then appointed as State Treasurer in 2012, retaining his seat at the 2014 election. He was also elected as Western Regional Vice President of the National Association of State Treasurers.

Throne argues change is needed

By Sarah Pridgeon

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Throne visited Crook County on Monday, spending time in Moorcroft, Hulett and Sundance. Throne has been touring the state to meet with voters and listen to their ideas, following a route that she jokes has recently been dictated by her son’s soccer schedule.

“It’s how I learn stuff – I talk to people and find out what’s going on,” she says.

Throne’s candidacy is based on her strong desire to see Wyoming diversify its economy.

“The last few years I was in the legislature, I really felt like we were headed down the wrong path – making bad decisions in a downturn and making the downturn worse,” she says.

“I feel like we keep doing the same thing over and over again as a state and expecting a different result. We make ourselves a boom and bust state, and we don’t have to be.”

Wyoming needs to change how it approaches the issue if we want to get out of the cycle, Throne says.

“I think the first thing we have to recognize is that, when all of our economic eggs are in one basket – with three sub parts of coal, oil and natural gas – and understand that we don’t control those markets and they are all facing economic challenges over which we have no control, we have to diversify our economy and broaden our tax base,” she says.

(Jeff Moberg photo) Mary Throne.
(Jeff Moberg photo) Mary Throne.

Wyoming has a lot of opportunity, Throne says, and she would like to see it realized. She has seen good ideas and energy in every town she has visited and entrepreneurs everywhere she goes.

“I support ENDOW, but I feel like we need ENDOW now. That’s sort of a 20-year plan and we need to be doing things now and making some of the tough decisions right now,” Throne says.

“The bigger point is that we can’t just look at today’s problems and keep applying yesterday’s solutions.”

As an energy attorney and having grown up in Gillette, Throne says she is a huge supporter of the energy industry and wants to continue to support it and ensure those jobs remain.

“I think I’d be a governor who understands them better than probably anybody in the race. I’ve helped people permit things and I know what a pain in the neck that is and how to make it better,” she says.

“That being said, we really have to look at all our opportunities, whether it’s tech or agriculture or tourism or something we’re not even thinking of, and build strong communities across the state.”
The plan in Cheyenne is for the rainy day fund to last ten years; Throne asks: and then what? She feels the state needs to stop hoping for those booms to solve its problems.

“Planning on winning the lottery is not a plan,” she says. “I think that, if we start that discussion, then we’ll come together as a state and we’ll find the solutions.”

Throne points to opportunities such as in agriculture to make it easier for people to market their meat.

“I don’t think there’s one big thing that’s going to save us but really focusing on the strengths of each individual community…and helping them maximize their potential is what we need to do,” she says.

Having served as the Minority House Leader, Throne is used to working across party lines. But the last few years she was in the legislature, she feels the body was drifting away from coming together to solve problems.

“I really feel that that’s who we are in Wyoming and we need to get back to that,” she says. “We’ll get through this – but not if we’re yelling at each other and not trying to find common ground.”

Throne says she wants to keep Wyoming’s education system strong. That, along with strong internet for telecommuting and the gorgeous settings of places like northeast Wyoming, is how you attract businesses and young families, she says.

Throne grew up on a ranch west of Gillette, where her grandparents on both sides homesteaded. She left Wyoming to go to college, spent two years in Thailand as a volunteer with the Presbyterian Church and then went to law school and moved to Denver, where she began practicing law.

Missing Wyoming, in 1992 she moved back and went to work for the Attorney General’s Office representing the air quality division of the DEQ. She then went into private practice and served in the legislature for ten years, getting married along the way and having three children.