With military, management, photojournalist and corrections officer credits to his name, Jason Senteney of the North Platte Valley believes his varied background has given him the experience needed to represent Wyoming in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I look at the condition of our country and the direction of our country and I think we’re on a bad path. I believe we need more common sense in Washington,” he says.
“I’ve proven in the past that I believe in public service…I know what it’s like to be in the trenches of life, like most people. I think I have my finger on the pulse of the community and I think that’s what sets me apart from a lot of people out there.”
Senteney was born and raised largely in Torrington. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps.
“I was infantry and marine, but I also had some special operations training. I was operational for about three months when a medical issue came back to bite me,” he says.
“Under Clinton’s military downsizing, they ushered me out but then, in 2001, after the second tower fell, I was called back from inactive reserve and then again in 2003, right before the invasion, I was called back for extra support.”
For most of the millennium’s first decade, Senteney was based in Texas, where he attended West Texas A&M University and majored in mass communications.
“I got out of school a little bit early because I got a job offer as a photojournalist for the NBC and FOX affiliates there locally,” he says. “I basically covered the political beat.”
Senteney then entered retail management as an executive team leader before moving into restaurant management.
“I managed several multi-million dollar businesses during that timeframe,” he says.
“In 2009, I was getting homesick. They say home is really where the heart is, so I came back home to the North Platte Valley where, for one campaign, I worked at the sugar factory.”
In 2011, he found the career he had been looking for. Taking a position with the Wyoming Department of Corrections, he began also to serve his community as a volunteer firefighter and was appointed by Governor Matt Mead in 2015 to the Air Quality Small Business Compliance Advisory Panel.
“I’m kind of a jack of all trades,” he smiles.
“I believe that Congress deals with a wide variety of issues and I believe that I have a wide variety in my background – that’s something I bring to the table that a lot of my opponents don’t.”
In particular, he says, he fully understands the lifestyle of the less affluent members of the community.
“Some of my life experiences led me to understand what it’s like to live pay check to pay check, barely being able to pay the bills and sometimes choosing certain priorities over others, like most of the people in this country and most of the people in this state,” he nods.
“I think it’s that type of background that we truly need in Washington.”
Senteney suspects that the majority of politicians in the nation’s capital are out of touch with their hard-working people of the middle class.
“The rich seem to be getting richer and the middle class seems to be getting poorer – and it shouldn’t be like that. When we had a strong middle class, our economy thrived,” he says.
“I also have family that work in the coal mines and family that work in oil and it’s through talking to those individuals, my uncles, that I’m getting a pretty good education on both oil and coal and how important it is to Wyoming, from a man-on-the-ground perspective.”
Those of his opponents with experience in the energy sector come from the executive level, he says, but it’s the workers who are impacted the most.
“I’m not out of touch with the community and, growing up in Wyoming, I’ve learned to understand what strong Wyoming values truly are,” he says. “That’s something I bring to the table: a view that my opponents have actually lost or have never really taken part in.”
Senteney also believes he will represent veterans better than most of his opponents.
“I believe that being able to deal with veteran issues is something we need right now because we don’t have enough veteran representation in Washington,” he nods.
Were he to represent Wyoming in the capital, he says, he would support a national sales tax in place of the federal income tax and the 74,000 pages of tax code that comes with it.
“It should bring in over $5 trillion a year. We can begin paying down our national deficit, we can begin to revitalize our infrastructure and we can also use some of that money to seal the southern border, to hire some of the 250,000 unemployed veterans for border patrol,” he says.
“I believe more boots on the ground will help us take care of our border and will also put money back into those communities that are near the border.”
Senteney has also taken a pledge for constitutional term limits within Congress, believing that long-term politicians become out of touch with their communities.
“They just see it from an outsider’s perspective because they just visit every once in a while,” he nods.
“With constitutional term limits, I think we’ll have new ideas and new blood circulating through Congress and it will help deal with the changing times.”
In Washington, Senteney believes he will have the knowledge and “marine stubbornness” to get the job done. He plans to form and work with coalitions to move the country in the right direction, he says.
“From my business management experience, I understand how to fix the economy and bring jobs back to the United States and, on my own time and at my own expense, when I’m not meeting with constituents and I’m not in session in Congress, I plan on travelling the country and meeting with CEOs and bringing more of these companies and businesses to Wyoming.”
Find out more about Senteney at www.senteneyforwyoming.org.