Wyoming’s 2016 campaign season officially starts today (Thursday), with the opening of the filing period for August’s primary election.
From now until May 27, interested citizens can declare their candidacy for public offices ranging from mayor to county commissioner to state representative.
The Park County Clerk’s Elections Office will be keeping an updated list of candidates who’ve filed on its website at www.parkcountyelections.net.
Of the six legislators who represent Park County and are up for election, four have said they’re seeking re-election, one is leaving office and one has yet to announce his plans.
Two Powell Republicans in the State House — Rep. Dan Laursen and Rep. David Northrup — are asking voters for another two years in office. Laursen represents House District 25, which is basically the general Powell area; Northrup represents House District 50, which covers the eastern part of Cody, Heart Mountain, Clark, Ralston and the Willwood, where he lives.
In Senate District 18, Cody Republican Hank Coe is similarly asking voters to send him back to Cheyenne for an eighth time and four more years. Coe, now finishing his 28th year in the Legislature, represents the entire Cody area, along with Heart Mountain, Clark, Ralston, the Willwood, Clark, Wapiti and Sunlight and Crandall.
Rep. Nathan Winters of Thermopolis told the Riverton Daily Ranger he’s also planning to run for re-election over in House District 28. Winters represents a broad area that stretches from Shoshoni to Basin and includes Meeteetse.
Meanwhile, House District 26 is up for grabs. Lovell Republican Elaine Harvey has told the Lovell Chronicle she’s leaving office after 14 years in the state House. The district covers northern Big Horn County — including Greybull, Lovell, Deaver, Cowley and Byron — and Garland and Frannie in eastern Park County.
House District 24 Rep. Sam Krone has not announced his plans.
The Cody Republican was fired from his job as a deputy Park County prosecutor in the middle of the Legislature’s budget session. Krone’s boss, Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric, dismissed him in February after learning of a series of crude and belittling text messages he’d sent to a woman who was being prosecuted by one of the office’s other deputies.
House District 24 serves most of the Cody area, along with Wapiti, Sunlight and Crandall.
On the Park County Commission, the seats of Republican commissioners Bucky Hall and Lee Livingston are up for voters’ consideration this year. Livingston, of Wapiti, is seeking re-election to a second four-year term, while Hall, of Cody, has decided to call it good after 12 years in office.
Jake Fulkerson, the current chair of the Cody school board and also a Republican, has announced he’s seeking one of the seats.
Several municipal positions are also up for grabs.
Powell Mayor Don Hillman has announced he’s seeking a second four-year term and Powell Ward 2 City Councilman Floyd Young says he plans to seek a third term in office.
Ward 1 Councilman Jim Hillberry, who was injured in an April ATV accident, and Ward 3 Councilwoman Lesli Spencer haven’t announced their plans.
Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown, meanwhile, has said she’s stepping down after completing her eight years in office.
This year’s only statewide election is for Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, has announced she’s leaving Congress, and a number of Republicans and a Democrats are seeking to replace her.
Park County Elections Deputy Teecee Barrett said most of the inquiries her office has fielded were about the commission and the race to become Cody’s next mayor.
Judging from the calls and visits, Barrett said interest in running seems to be down a bit from the lead-up to the filing period two years ago.
She said most of the questions have been about the recent Republican and Democratic party caucuses. A number of people asked questions about the way the parties picked their presidential nominees and wondered how Wyoming could switch from choosing their nominee at the caucuses to picking them at the primary election, Barrett said. (It would take legislative action.)
Now is a prime time to get involved in the Republican or Democratic parties, as it’s also the time for citizens to declare their candidacy for party leadership positions known as precinct committeemen and committeewomen.
With the exception of the city positions, all of the offices now open for filing are partisan.
Citizens who want to run as independent candidates must gather a certain amount of signatures by Aug. 29. Third-party candidates, such as Libertarians, must get the approval of their state party.
People wanting to run for a municipal office file at city hall while the others file at the Park County Clerk’s Office.
Folks wanting to run for non-partisan special districts — such as for a school, hospital or fire district board — will have to sit tight. The filing period for those offices doesn’t open until August.
Editor's note: This version corrects how many terms Sen. Coe has served.