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PULSE ON POLITICS: Battle for House District 23
Planet Jackson Hole: What is your motivation for running? Top priorities?
Jim Darwiche: As a county commissioner there were several issues that I wanted to pursue, but couldn’t as they were state issues. One was education and vocational training. As a businessman and entrepreneur, I believe we need to increase the number of economic opportunities for our children. Additionally, we are blessed with mineral resources in this state; I want to ensure that the energy industry operates responsibly. Our wildlife and its habitat are a great gift and a valuable resource. Preserving these resources is crucial to our economy and our quality of life. The government can have a positive or negative effect on our economy and quality of life. I want to work on behalf of the people to ensure we will have a vibrant economy and provide opportunities.
I believe in investing in our children. Our children are our future. I will explore educational choices that match our need as community, and the passion of our children.
We are the gatekeepers to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and these resources along with tourism are the cornerstones of our economy. We have a responsibility to protect and preserve these resources not only for our children and future generations, but also for the entire world to enjoy.
Andy Schwartz: My top priorities, that are also my motivation for running include:
The reality of climate change demands new approaches to energy consumption, creation and extraction. Our protection of critical resources such as water supply and wildlife habitat must be kept current as conditions change.
Equality in the Equality State. This means equal pay for equal work, no discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and marriage opportunity for all.
Strengthening Wyoming’s business culture for a 21st century economy. Investment in education, infrastructure and the Wyoming Business Council are critical components in achieving that goal.
Wally Ulrich: I first became fascinated with the political process in 1967 when I was elected Speaker of the House while attending Boys State. In 1970, I began legislative work with Malcolm Wallop and other legislators on Wyoming’s habitat protection and development agencies and helped draft and gave testimony in Washington for the national legislation that created Fossil Butte National Monument. I helped draft and worked many bills through the Wyoming Legislature, including a rewrite of Wyoming’s election code and school funding.
My top priorities are:
Creative expansion of our state’s revenue streams with more transparency for revenue and budgetary monitoring. Finding legislative solutions that address inequities in existing property tax assessment. Finding long-term solutions for Hoback habitat and energy endowment responsibilities to school children and education systems in Wyoming. Clarifying land use and access and incorporating solid, well-grounded science to solve problems and inform decisions. Expansion of local initiatives in professional development and education (Nursing, Hospitality Industry, and Biological and Earth Sciences). Creating incentives for entrepreneurs and small business startups, and innovative energy solutions. Stabilizing Wyoming resident water rights opportunities.
PJH: Do you feel your party affiliation gives you any advantage or disadvantage? Why, and on what issues? (For instance, while the state is primarily Republican, would Teton County benefit from having a Democrat represent District 23, or at least a moderate Republican?)
Jim Darwiche: Because we live in a small community, party affiliation does matter even though track record should outweigh it. Having said that, party affiliation in Cheyenne is paramount for delivering a better service to our community. Building relationships and being a member of a party with majority will help to effectively solve issues and get the job done.
Andy Schwartz: I feel this question is designed to help perpetuate the myth that only a Republican can succeed in Cheyenne. I do not believe that the effectiveness of a legislator is based on party affiliation. An understanding of the issues and the ability to forge relationships and work collaboratively with others are the strengths I will use to provide effective representation for Teton County.
Wally Ulrich: I have been a Wyoming Republican since I was seven and marched in my first parade as a small but proud elephant. But first and foremost I am a Wyomingite – fifth generation, actually. The relationships I have developed extend across the entire state and cross party lines. Just as important, the relationships my families, parents and sister have developed over the last many decades are a tremendous asset I bring to the table in representing Teton County.
Residents of HD 23 will benefit from having a known member of the majority in the room during caucus and deliberations early in the yearly cycles of legislation creation. I know the process well. Committee appointments and legislation flow are governed by the majority and leadership’s knowledge of my multiple levels of involvement in Wyoming will be uniquely beneficial to residents of House District 23.
PJH: Do you feel any added responsibility or pressure in continuing an office held by popular, long-term representative Keith Gingery? Does that factor into your thinking at all? What are some of the things he did well that you would continue? What are some things you feel he was off base on that you would not necessarily pursue?
Jim Darwiche: The honorable Keith Gingery served our community effectively with passion for several years. I would hope that my experience and approach would be as effective as Keith’s. I don’t feel any added pressure; I will just do what I have always done, serving with honesty, integrity and transparency.
Andy Schwartz: During his five terms in office Rep. Gingery served Teton County admirably. I see this election not as a referendum on the past, but as a vote on the future of the county and the state of Wyoming.
Wally Ulrich: A decade ago, Representative Gingery wondered how he would fill the void left by Clarene Law, a veritable “legend” both in the Legislature and in our community – and look what he was able to accomplish. I admire Keith greatly, as a friend and as a citizen who benefitted from his service. Keith’s insight into the law was immensely valuable in helping him craft effective legislation. My experience and strengths are in different areas, but will be equally valuable as Wyoming begins to explore new uses of known sources of energy as well as stimulating little-known energy sources.
Representative Gingery saw opportunities – from the economic value of the arts, culture and history of our state to reforming and proposing enforceable laws so they can be of tangible benefit to Wyoming’s citizens. Keith Gingery has great vision. He represented his district and community with the same commitment he gave to the entire state.
Keith Gingery supports my election and knows that I am uniquely suited to pick up where he left off.