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


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

Both Democrat nominees will be on the ballot for the 2020 General Election, along with two Republicans.

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?

Gray: In my opinion, the voters should know everything about me in order for me to be transparent. My work history and upbringing has had a strong influence on my beliefs. I have worked in the oil and gas industry for approximately 19 years and in law enforcement for approximately 25 years. I was involved in Boy Scouts as a young person growing up in Casper and attended Casper College in their law enforcement program. I served with the Evansville, WY, police department, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, and as Sheriff of Sweetwater County. I believe strongly in the Constitution of the USA and Wyoming as well as the amendments. As a Wyoming native, I have strong feelings about access to public lands and I enjoy hunting, fishing, and photography. I am strongly conservative and have filed for Sweetwater County Commissioner as a Democrat.

Thoman: EXPERIENCE as an elected official (conservation district) – For the past 20+ years I have dedicated myself to working closely with the Commissioners on budgets, public land issues, access, and projects.

In these unprecedented economic times, I will devote my efforts to the continuation of quality life for all SWC residents to include having good jobs, maintaining multiple land use, promoting individual freedom, providing services to our veterans, maintaining air service, and Events Complex opportunities…..among others.


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

Thoman: Our COVID-19 data (numbers) in SWCO tell the story! Our SWCO component entities rallied, prepared, and responded as we expected them to. This preparation along with the cooperation of our businesses and residents, (although some with great sacrifice) have prevented a pandemic here. Now the focus needs to be on economic health as well as continuing the measures for physical and mental health. As your next Commissioner, I am ready to listen and make hard decisions related to COVID-19 and to the economy.

Gray: I am very much outcome-based, and I believe the response was appropriate.


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

Gray: The UPRR Land Grant has allowed people access to public lands which heightens hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

Thoman: Our people who love our way of life, our small and corporate businesses (good jobs), multiple land use for outdoor recreation, jobs and access, our schools, public services provided and visionary residents are all a part of what makes SWC a GREAT place to live!


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

Thoman: I understand very well that the next few years are not going to be easy for any of us. There will be sacrifices that we will all have to share. I am ready and prepared to hit these tough economic times head-on. With my lifetime of business and government experience, people networking skills (desire and ability to listen, collaborate, cooperate, and team build), decision-making skills, professional budgeting skills, and overall leadership experiences, I know that working together we can get SWC back on its feet and thriving again.

Gray: The nation’s response to COVID-19 as well as issues with non-renewable resources has created challenges that Wyoming has never faced before economically. I will approach the county’s budget in a business-like manner. I will attempt to bring new businesses to the county to better diversify our economy.


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

Gray: I believe I bring a vast amount of experience to this position. I have remained involved in Wyoming government since 1982, not only in law enforcement but serving on the Governor’s Council for Impaired Driving, Judicial Nomination Commission, and currently on the Wyoming Parole Board.

Thoman: I understand the unprecedented difficult economic and social times that are facing us.

Having the qualifications to meet these tough times, I will focus on the issues and be prepared to make the tough decisions. While I personally know many of the citizens of Sweetwater County, I shall listen and respect all input. I am dedicated to maintaining what we have in Sweetwater County.