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Tribune Staff

I'm a registered Republican, and have been all my voting life. While I find myself agreeing with a conservative philosophy (I lean somewhat right of center), I refuse to vote along party lines, especially if I believe a Democratic candidate will do a better job than his or her Republican counterpart.

I'm no fan of partisan politics, and the more polarized our political system gets, the less I like it.

As a state government reporter in Cheyenne for four years (and a general assignment reporter who frequently covered state government issues for three years before that), I grew to admire the majority of lawmakers in the Legislature, most of whom sacrificed a great deal and worked very hard, often for very long hours, to represent their constituents. They truly wanted the best for their constituents, and for the state.

But the experience also served to increase my dislike for partisan politics. Too often, I saw a good idea passed over without consideration because it was proposed by the wrong person, representing the wrong party. On the other hand, there were times when a proposal with fewer merits advanced with little question or challenge because it was proposed by someone noteworthy in the “right” party.

But there were some really exciting moments, too, when I saw lawmakers from both sides of the aisle come together for a good cause.

The best example of that was the passage of the bill that created the Hathaway Scholarship program. It was nothing short of thrilling to see the support for the proposal gather like the proverbial rolling snowball, with Republicans and Democrats alike putting aside politics and mundane matters for a while to envision something that could benefit every qualifying high school student in the state, as well as their families.

While there were disagreements over what the nature of scholarships and their qualifications should be, lawmakers recognized the value of the program as a whole and compromised over their differences to make it come to fruition.

While that kind of cooperation is much more common in our state and local governments than in Washington, D.C., it's still far too rare — and that needs to change.

That change needs to start at the local level, in the mindset of the voters. Instead of voting mindlessly for candidates belonging to one party or another, we need to vote for the person we believe will do the best job — regardless of political affiliation. To do that effectively, we have to do some research and become informed so we know the issues and the candidates, then vote for the person we believe is most qualified and who will perform best in the position.

I am so tired of hearing Republican and Democratic leaders sounding the rallying cry to vote only for members of their parties. That sends a message that all Republicans, or Democrats — regardless of experience, knowledge, skills and personality — are best for the job because they have the right letter behind their name.

That is just wrong. Being a member of a particular party doesn't automatically make a person competent or qualified for a position, and party affiliation isn't always a good indicator of a person's political philosophies. Especially in Wyoming, some Democrats are more conservative than some Republicans.

We need to send a message that we want government to be run efficiently and without regard for party affiliation. We can't do that unless we, as voters, are willing to cross party lines when needed.

Then we need to make it clear that we expect our elected officials to be willing to do the same.

The end of October is approaching, and with it, two events that call for increased attention to driving cautiously and safely.

The first event, of course, is Halloween and the tradition of trick or treating. Over the years, Powell has taken steps to help kids carry out their annual quest for candy safely, giving them the opportunity to complete their mission in daylight hours or through organized activities.

Still, there are some who will take the traditional route of going door to door, often dressed in costumes that reduce their ability to see or move quickly, in the twilight and dark hours.

Parents have the responsibility to make sure their children take proper precautions, of course, but kids are kids, and in the excitement of the evening they may forget, so drivers should be particularly cautious.

The end of October also means that daylight saving time is close to ending as well. On Nov. 7, we will revert to standard time. The change itself means it will be darker when we will all be heading home from work at the end of the day, but it's also a signal that we are approaching the dark part of the year. Again, that calls for more caution when negotiating Powell streets.

Caution is especially important around schools and other areas where children might gather, but other areas, such as the the offset intersections on Division Street, buildings that block visibility at some intersections on Absaroka and the narrow stretches of both of those heavily traveled streets also require extra attention on the part of drivers.

Everyone should also exercise caution when driving, of course, but at this time of the year, it's extra important, and we urge all drivers to be especially vigilant.

George Evan Wirth of Bloomington, Minn., died Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010, one month after his 90th birthday.

(Aug. 2, 1981 - Oct. 25, 2010)

Jeremiah Elden Thormahlen of Powell went to be with the Lord on Oct. 25, 2010 after a fierce battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma that lasted the better part of four years. He was 29.

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A wayward moose trots south across a field after crossing Lane 9 on the eastern fringe of Powell on Sunday afternoon. The animal spent part of the afternoon wandering between Homesteader Park and Hastings Horseshoe before finally meandering south toward the Shoshone River. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Wandering animal stops by Powell

Likely searching for a potential Mrs. Moose, a young bull came calling on Powell this weekend.

Throughout Sunday, the young bull was spotted moseying around east Powell — in Homesteader Park and near Hastings Horseshoe.

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Five run write-in campaigns, three official candidates on Nov. 2 ballot

Electronic medical records technology and future expansion of hospital facilities were main topics of discussion Thursday during a Powell Hospital District candidate forum.

Eight candidates vying for five seats on the board participated in the forum. Of those, three are on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, and five are running write-in campaigns.

At a Thursday candidate forum, Park County Clerk Kelly Jensen highlighted improvements she's made to the office in her four years, while challenger Jerri Torczon criticized Jensen's performance.

Jensen, a Cody Democrat, said she had changed the clerk's office over the past four years, bringing an outdated office up to date and responding to citizen's wishes to “step it up” from the prior clerk. As an example, Jensen said all employees in her office are now cross-trained to help residents with any office need.

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Powell's Desiree Murray pushes her way up a hill during Class 3A state cross country action this past Saturday in Douglas. Murray, a junior, was part of her second state championship team, placing 14th in the race. Courtesy photo/Brendan Burnett-Kurie, Douglas Budget

Powell girls run to third state title in five years

What started out as possibly the worst day of the 2010 cross country season ended as undeniably its best on Saturday. The Powell High School girls' cross country team battled through a steady rain and a talented field of 72 runners to capture the Class 3A state championship trophy in Douglas.

The state title marked the third 3A title in the past five years for the Panther girls.

After poor regional meet, Panthers find redemption

A disappointing regional finish provided all the motivation the Powell High School boys' cross country team needed on Saturday in Douglas. After placing fifth the previous week in Lyman, the Panthers rebounded nicely, wrapping up their season with a third-place finish at the 3A state championships.

“It was nice to see after how hard they worked the previous week,” said Powell cross country coach Cliff Boos. “They really wanted to go out and show that they were capable of running better than they had the week before. You could just see the focus they had this week getting ready.”

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