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December 21, 2010 4:06 pm

EDITORIAL: A tough act to follow

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Mead takes office Jan. 3 as Freudenthal finishes second term

Soon after 2011 begins, Matt Mead will take the helm as Wyoming’s next governor as Dave Freudenthal exits after two terms.

Fortunate to serve during boom years for the state’s energy industry, Freudenthal will leave on a high note in a couple of weeks after leading the state through eight prosperous years.

"I'm quite frankly quite proud of the last eight years. But there are lots of people who participated in it,” Freudenthal said in his last scheduled press conference.

Indeed — he has many reasons to be proud.

From putting aside billions of dollars in various funds to investing millions into the state’s Hathaway Scholarship Program, Freudenthal’s tenure has been marked by fiscal responsibility to save for Wyoming’s future.

He’s also been careful to balance energy production and protection of Wyoming’s wildlife and environment.

Since taking office in 2003, Freudenthal often took a non-partisan approach and has proven to be a strong, effective leader for the Cowboy State.

Some University of Wyoming students will have the opportunity to learn from the departing governor as he takes a teaching post, imparting his knowledge in law, government and the economy.

As Freudenthal heads to the classroom in January, Mead will make recommendations to the 2011 Wyoming Legislature for how to save or spend a projected $1.2 billion surplus. It’s certainly an enviable position, as many states face budget deficits.

Looking ahead to the next four years facing Mead, several issues promise to challenge the new governor.

Among them: attracting new businesses to the state to buoy the economy; managing wolves and grizzlies as both animals remain on the endangered species list; funding improvements for Wyoming’s deteriorating roadways; and encouraging the state’s energy industry while also looking at green initiatives.

Freudenthal’s eight years are a tough act to follow, but we are confident Matt Mead is up to the challenge.

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