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French, Tilden, Grosskopf win

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Max Baker of rural Powell leaves the Garland Community Church after casting his vote Tuesday morning in the primary election. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

Three advance in GOP primary, two commissioners replaced

Two Republicans on the Park County Commission were replaced by county voters in Tuesday's primary election.
Unofficial county election results say sitting commissioner Tim French and challengers Loren Grosskopf of Cody and Joe Tilden of the South Fork area, will be the three candidates to advance to the general election in November.

Current Commissioners Bill Brewer and Jill Shockley Siggins came in fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 11-candidate Republican race.

Only the top three Republican candidates will advance to the general election ballot in November. They will face the lone Democratic candidate for the commission, Faith Wicks of Powell. Wicks made it through the Democratic primary with 590 votes.
French was the leading vote-getter, receiving 3,737 votes among Republicans, or about 17.3 percent of the vote.

In a phone interview Wednesday, French said he was “just overwhelmed by the support given to me. It's truly an honor.”

“It just makes me want to work harder at it, and I will, work harder yet,” he said.

French, who has served three terms on the commission, said he thought voters saw him as bringing a lot of common sense and a straightforward approach to the job.

French said he sees coming up with “an equitable system” for landfill rates across the county and fighting the federal government on land use as priorities for the commission in coming years.

Grosskopf, of Cody, said in a Wednesday phone interview that he was feeling great, ecstatic and exhilarated, but “of all the emotions, I'm probably more humbled than anything,” he said.

Grosskopf received 2,951 votes, or roughly 13.7 percent.

The retired accountant said he knocked on some 2,800 doors across the county as he campaigned, and he thought those conversations bolstered his support.

“The people were so wonderful,” he said.

Grosskopf said he did hear some anti-incumbent sentiment while going door-to-door, but he said he wasn't sure that was a major issue for voters.

“I think the majority of people wanted to talk about the economy,” he said.

Grosskopf focused his campaign on keeping the county's spending focused on essential services and future planning as revenues decline. He said it's important to have financial expertise on the commission.

“I promise, I tell everyone, I'll give 110 percent of my effort,” said Grosskopf.

Joe Tilden received 2,807 votes (13 percent); the Tribune was unable to contact him by press time.

Tilden, a 59-year-old South Fork ranch manager, had cited his background in business — from dealing securites to outfitting — and public service, including 11 years on the Cody school board. In forums and interviews, Tilden cited the importance of economic development in tough times. He also cited the importance of continuing to fight for Wyoming's wolf management plan.

Tilden and Grosskopf both have said they were not running against any particular candidate on the commission.

Reached by phone on Wednesday, Commissioner Brewer said he was not upset with the primary election results.

“Sometimes people want change,” said Brewer, adding, “The public has spoken, and I'm not disappointed.”

As to why he might have come up short, Brewer said it could it have been concerns as to his health and age (the 72-year-old missed close to three months of meetings earlier this year with serious heart trouble), letters to the editor in local papers critical of commissioners and his vote to increase elected officials' wages.

“All those things add up,” Brewer said.

As to that vote on wages, which set elected officials' from 2011-2014, Brewer said he still believes freezing wages for four years would have been too long. He also noted that wages were frozen for the first year.

Brewer said when his term expires in January, he plans on doing some traveling with his wife.

“What is meant to be is meant to be,” he said. “Maybe this is what we're supposed to do.”

He wished Grosskopf and Tilden the best of luck.

“I did the best job I could,” Brewer said.

The Tribune was unable to contact Commissioner Siggins as of press time.

French said Siggins and Brewer took the job seriously and worked hard.

“It was a pleasure to work with them the last four years,” French said.

A.M. “Hank” Whitelock, a Cody construction worker, came in sixth in the 11-man field, with 1,988 votes (9.2 percent). Vicki L. Gibson of Powell, who is the town clerk/treasurer in Byron, pulled in 1,736 votes (8.1 percent). Gibson fared well in Powell precincts but struggled in Cody.

Meeteetse ranch manager Karla Dee Gitlitz received 979 votes, followed by Meeteetse crusher superintendent Bill Yetter (831 votes).

Powell Police Officer Chad Miner, despite dropping out of the race two weeks ago, came in ninth with 519 votes, edging out South Fork bus driver Fred Reynolds (462 votes) and retired respiratory therapist Ted Davey of Meeteetse (363 votes).

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