5 Questions With: 2020 Primary Election Candidates for Sweetwater County Commissioner


SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (August 3, 2020) — In today’s edition of 5 Questions With…, Wyo4News talks with Democrat Joe M. Barbuto and Republican Lauren Schoenfeld, 2020 Primary Election Candidates for Sweetwater County Commissioner. Schoenfeld is a current Commissioner, and was appointed in July of 2019. Democrat Dave Gray and Republican Mary Thoman will be running for the same position, and their answers were posted on Sunday, August 2. Republican Mark Peterson and Republican Wally Johnson are also in the race, but both did not respond.

Both Democrat nominees will be on the ballot for the 2020 General Election, along with two Republicans. Schoenfeld will be running for Commissioner in which she was appointed, while Johnson will be running for re-election.

The 2020 Primary Election is Tuesday, August 18, and Wyo4News wants the public to have the opportunity to hear from the candidates in Sweetwater County they will be voting for, and then again in November for the 2020 General Election.


Wyo4News 5 Questions

1. What is the single most important thing voters should know about you?

Barbuto: Sweetwater County needs new ideas if we want to have a bright future. It’s crucial that we plan for and not just react to changes we know are happening. Frankly, that’s not something we’re great at in Wyoming. But, working together and as a community, I am confident that we can create a vision and set goals for what we want this county to be in five, ten, twenty years, and beyond. That is an effort to which I am fully dedicated.

Schoenfeld: I would like the voters in Sweetwater County to know that I am a dedicated, hardworking individual that strives to push our community and state to be the best place to work, live and raise children in.


2. How do you feel Sweetwater County responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Schoenfeld: We are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and much of the work ahead of us is what will truly define Sweetwater County. The economic shut-down was not something we had a lot of control around; this came from the State and National level, but we will have full responsibility to support our families and businesses to bring our economy back. Our community has been incredibly supportive of each other and I am looking forward to building our County back up and continuing to build our local economy.

Barbuto: For the most part, I was impressed with the actions Sweetwater County took in
response to this Coronavirus Pandemic. Swift measures were taken to limit physical and
personal interaction in county buildings. The situation has exposed the need for more
integration of technology into how residents access county services. Improvements can
be made that will enhance government for citizens. Some of it can be accomplished
in-house, others may require working with legislators to improve our state statutes. In
both cases, it’s something I’ll pursue as a County Commissioner.


3. What makes Sweetwater County a better place to live than anywhere else?

Barbuto: When people ask me what Sweetwater County is like, the first thing I mention is public lands. The access we enjoy is pretty darn unique and a terrific benefit to living here. In a matter of minutes, I can be in my Jeep and exploring wide-open spaces. That’s something I took for granted while growing up, but came to appreciate more and more
as I got older and realized that wasn’t the case everywhere in our state and country. We
must preserve that access and curtail any attempts to change land management in a
way that would put our access at risk. That will be a priority when I’m a commissioner.

Schoenfeld: The people! Sweetwater County is an incredible place to live, play and work! In my view, Sweetwater County is unlike anywhere else because of the incredible innovation, dedication, and perseverance of our residents. We solve problems, we work together to fill gaps in services, and collectively we strongly support our local community and businesses. Sweetwater County has given me and my family incredible opportunities. We have been blessed to call Sweetwater County our home and truly enjoy the community we live in. We are so lucky to have access to hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and off-roading like we do! Growing up in Farson gave me the opportunity to experience those experiences since I was young! My husband and I love our careers and are excited to continue to live, work, play, and give back in this awesome area!


4. What will you do to make Sweetwater County better if you are elected?

Schoenfeld: I will continue to work for the best interests of our community and our residents. I am deeply connected throughout our community and State and I am not afraid to dig in and get my hands dirty! We have great opportunities with economic development and diversification, alongside supporting our current industries throughout the County. I am proud to be a part of Sweetwater County Economic Development Council, the Southwest Wyoming Mining and Manufacturing Leadership Team, the Wyoming Broadband Council, the Wyoming Broadband Legislative Task Force, and the Wyoming Community Foundation.

I also believe there is a great opportunity to continue with strategic and long term planning for Sweetwater County. I have recently begun this process with my fellow commissioners and look forward to taking our County planning and development to a whole new level.

Barbuto: Folks need to be more connected with their county government. Improving
transparency, technology, and communication will go a long way towards that end. Let’s
have community workshops to talk about long-term planning. And let’s not limit citizen
involvement to a Tuesday morning meeting every other week in Green River. As a
Commissioner, I’ll take issues of concern – the proposed budget, public lands
discussions, and more – on the road for public presentations around the county. Let’s
provide more opportunities for people to ask questions and provide input. That will
improve county government and increase the quality of service provided by elected



5. Why should residents of Sweetwater County vote for you?

Barbuto: Most candidates in this race acknowledge that the road ahead is a rough one for
Sweetwater County. That’s not enough. Maintaining what’s already happening or
waiting for somebody else to come up with solutions will not work. But here’s the deal –
we can bring stakeholders together, have a comprehensive community discussion and
come up with some big ideas, and a plan to create the future we want and need. That’s
why I’m in this race, that’s what I’m advocating for, and that’s why people should cast
their vote for Joe M Barbuto.

Schoenfeld: Growing up and raising a family in Sweetwater County, I understand the culture and the needs of our communities. As stated before, I am deeply invested in Sweetwater County and enjoy partnering throughout our communities and state to make this the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

I have a diverse background in law enforcement, corrections, non-profit, executive leadership, and mining, and manufacturing. This gives me a sound perspective on supervision, the criminal justice system, the mining and manufacturing industry, local government, budgeting, grants, and strategic planning, etc.

Being appointed to my current seat in July of 2019 I have been able to bring a fresh perspective to the table. Since then I have had the opportunity to develop some great plans for the growth, development, and planning for our incredible County! I am looking forward to continuing this work with my fellow commissioners!