In today’s edition of “5 Questions With…” Wyo4News reached out to Wyoming Governor Candidates Mark Gordon (R), Mary Throne (D), and Lawrence Gerard Streumpf (I) about subjects of importance to Wyoming voters.
Wyo4News received answers from Gordon and Throne, Streumpf did not respond.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON THE ENDOW PROJECT?
Mark Gordon: There’s no question it is important for Wyoming to look for ways to grow and diversify our economy. I support the intent and vision of the program and appreciate many of the priorities set forth in the Economic Diversification Strategy. As Treasurer, I have a view born of experience that we can better organize our overall economic development efforts to make them more efficient and productive. As Governor, I’ll work collaboratively with the ENDOW Executive Council and key staff to improve efficiencies, better clarify the role of state agencies and ensure the private sector is in the driver’s seat.
Mary Throne: ENDOW outlines critical steps towards building the economy of the future in Wyoming. I agree with the report’s recommendations to invest in K-12 and higher education and technical training, to reform our tax structure so that we can build a foundation for our new economy, and to capitalize on growing entrepreneurial spirit in Wyoming. These are things I’ve been advocating for years. I also love the ENGAGE recommendations. There are aspects of ENDOW that I disagree with, such as the suggestion to add another cabinet position to the governor’s office. As Governor, I would be committed to working to implement the best of ENDOW’s recommendations.
WHAT IS THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUE FACING THE NEXT LEGISLATURE?
Mary Throne: Addressing Wyoming’s budget is a key challenge for the next legislature, with leadership from the Governor. We must consider what we expect government to do, how we can best use existing resources, and how we provide long-term stable revenue to meet our needs. Additionally, healthcare is a statewide issue. There are too few options, premiums are too high, and coverage is insufficient. I support Medicaid expansion because it would bring millions of our federal dollars back to Wyoming, provide healthcare for 20,000 people, help our rural hospitals, and help stabilize insurance costs for the rest of us.
Mark Gordon: The most critical issue facing our state will be to build a fiscally stable future by balancing our budget and ensuring we are not spending more than we are taking in. The boom times over the last decade have resulted in spending habits that Wyoming simply cannot keep up. The biggest job of our next Governor is going to be managing spending levels while still providing the services the people of Wyoming depend on. Doing that will help us diversify our economy, build our existing businesses, help ensure stability in our education system and provide a bright future.
HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THE EDUCATION FUNDING ISSUES IN WYOMING?
Mark Gordon: First, we must look to how we can improve efficiencies and accountability among school districts while maintaining local control. Having served on a school board, I understand that local control requires accountabilities from school boards to the voters, and to the state as to how funds are deployed and perform, but it is at the local level that decisions should be made. Wyoming has many school districts, so we must ensure that the cost of administration does not impair the delivery of educational content. We can manage costs, better distribute funding, and ensure Wyoming kids get the best education possible.
Mary Throne: It is essential to building a bright economic future for Wyoming that the state meets its constitutional obligation to fund our K-12 school systems. The cuts that have been made will have a lasting effect on the future of our state. If we want to grow our economy, we need to invest in our children. If we choose to give them the best education possible, we, in turn, give Wyoming a generation of well-educated citizens.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES?
Mary Throne: Wyoming will always be an energy producing state. But we have to broaden our perspective—embracing renewable sources is a key part of growing our economy. In my professional career, I’ve done permitting work for wind projects as well as coal, oil and gas projects, and it’s clear to me that Wyoming has massive potential for wind energy development. The same applies for solar energy. I’ll always fight for the jobs of people who work in Wyoming’s traditional energy sector of oil, coal, and natural gas; but we must also embrace the opportunities of wind and solar.
Mark Gordon: I believe strongly that the market should pick winners and losers, especially when it comes to energy sources. I see renewables as an additive to our energy economy, not a detractor. Several proposed projects have the potential to bring immense investment and job opportunities to many communities, but development should proceed thoughtfully. Technological innovation and opportunity are not the sole provinces of “clean renewable energy.” Already we have seen impressive advances across our traditional energy sources too. Our challenge will be how to develop all of these resources in a way that preserves all that makes Wyoming the place we love.
AS GOVERNOR WHAT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY?
Mark Gordon: As Governor, my most important responsibility will be protecting and championing the rights and best interests of our citizens, our small businesses, our lands and all that we hold dear. Among my top priorities will be building a strong foundation for prosperity so your family, friends, and neighbors can seize their next opportunity. This means making tough decisions about spending to ensure Wyoming is living within its means; eliminating barriers at the state and federal level to strengthen existing Wyoming industries and attract new ones, and providing exceptional educational opportunities for our kids and important job training for our citizens.
Mary Throne: My duty will be to provide strong leadership and to be an independent voice for Wyoming. My decisions will be based solely on what is best for the people of Wyoming. If we are going to achieve a sustainable economy, affordable healthcare, well-maintained infrastructure etc., we need honest leadership willing to embrace change. That means a governor who will tell you what you need to know, not just what you want to hear. I have a proven track record of building broad coalitions to tackle big problems—in the legislature, most of my bills passed with more Republican votes than Democratic votes.