Wyoming Residents Share Their Hopes for a Second Gordon Term
Diversifying the economy, building more infrastructure and boosting the energy industry are priorities for some constituents if Gov. Gordon wins re-election
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Nov 07, 2022
Gov. Mark Gordon is pictured above at a polling place in Wyoming. Gordon will face Democratic opponent Theresa Livingston in the general election on Nov. 8. (Courtesy photo via Gov. Gordon's Facebook page)
By Shen Wu Tan
Special to the Wyoming Truth
Dear Gov. Mark Gordon:
In less than 24 hours, Wyoming voters will go to the polls and decide who they want in the governor’s mansion for the next four years.
A recent poll shows you’re the most popular governor in the nation, tied with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott with a 74% approval rating. You claimed victory in the GOP primary in August, and in one of the most GOP friendly states in the country, with 78% of voters registered as Republicans, you’ll likely defeat Democrat Theresa Livingston in Tuesday’s general election.
You’ve had a busy first term, launching numerous initiatives and programs to address a variety of issues in Wyoming. You cut state spending by 26%, created the Energy Rebound Program to protect energy jobs, launched an education program, approved millions of dollars in one-time COVID-19 relief funds to boost healthcare and suicide prevention services in the state and pushed back against President Biden’s ban on oil and gas leasing, his border policy and vaccine mandates.
But as you said in your re-election announcement: “There’s more work to do.”
Many Wyomingites agree.
We traveled to three Wyoming towns – Pine Bluffs, Cheyenne and Laramie – ahead of the general election and asked constituents to assess your time in office and share their expectations for a second Gordon term.
Some people we spoke with thought you and the Wyoming legislature could have done more during the past few years—or done things differently. For instance, one voter was disappointed that Wyoming didn’t expand Medicaid. Another said he doesn’t think you’re conservative enough. However, some Wyoming residents gave you high marks for a job well done.
One of your supporters, a retired 70-year-old Republican from Pine Bluffs, is even hoping that you’ll partner with other governors to remove President Biden from office. We’re not sure what he means by that or what powers he thinks the governor of Wyoming could possibly hold over a sitting U.S. president.
However, many Wyoming residents have more realistic goals. Read on to find out what some voters have in mind for your prospective second term.
The Wyoming Truth
Here’s what Wyoming residents we spoke with hope Gov. Gordon will do in his second term:
Nancy Lang, 65, of Pine Bluffs, is a retired teacher and Republican who plans to vote for Gordon: “I think we need to increase teacher pay. It’s tough. We see that we’re not able to find teachers, and I think we need to make that [teaching profession] a little more attractive…I do think that teachers need more money…I just think we want good teachers. Good teachers are pretty hard to find…We need excellent teachers, not just mediocre teachers.”
John White, 49, of Cheyenne, is a retired military veteran and Republican who would like Gordon to diversify Wyoming’s economy by allowing more large companies to come into the state and by legalizing cannabis. “More businesses, more jobs for the Cheyenne area instead of these $10 jobs… Cheyenne’s bad for not allowing big companies in.” Regarding cannabis, he wants it legalized for both recreational and medical purposes so Wyoming can farm it and generate more revenue. “It would be good for taxes…We’re not getting the coal taxes like we used to so [there could be] tons of money coming in from tax on cannabis. It’s legalized in almost every surrounding state.”
Anibal Herrera, 57, of Laramie, an educational consultant and Democrat, said it’s likely that Gordon will open uranium mines—and urged caution. “Radio ecology was my graduate degree, so I think they need to be careful…I’m not against nuclear [power]. Just use it wisely.” He also wants Gordon to think about where he wants to see Wyoming in the future. “There’s a lot of very small, small towns that don’t have a specific revenue. As we move into the 2030s… [Gordon] needs to be forward thinking about what [will] Wyoming look like in five, 10, 15 years.”
Harley Miller, 24, of Pine Bluffs, is a gas station worker and Republican: “Open up our coal mines…so that Wyoming [can] make money again.”
Fernando Muzquiz, 59, of Cheyenne, is a treatment court case manager and Republican who doesn’t want Gordon to make further cuts to government agencies. He also would like the governor to concentrate on mental health and welfare issues. “He’s one of the ones that wants to entirely slash the government. As much as we’ve slashed positions and funding, if anybody still thinks there’s room to slash, I find that hard to believe…Not only the governor, but a lot of our representatives say, ‘Yeah, there’s still more room to cut.’ I don’t know where that is. They’ve cut some pretty important programs that assist the elderly and mental health and substance issues and stuff like that. And I think that’s not where we should be cutting.”
Don Merideth, 67, of Pine Bluffs, is a gas station cashier who voted against Gordon in the GOP primary election, but expects Gordon to prevail in the general election. “I’d like to see him push for the convention of the states, constitutional amendment convention…I’d like to see him do more to increase our energy production…There are a lot of issues regarding immigration and some of the other issues nationally that other states are taking leadership in fighting or opposing these agendas. I’d like to see him get more involved in that…I would like to see them do something with parental rights in schools. I would like to see them pushback against the LGTBQ+ agenda. I think we’re allowing things to be done to children that aren’t correct. Our schools need to educate our children, not indoctrinate them.”
Neal Levy, 71, of Cheyenne, is a retiree and Democrat who wants Gordon to assure Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) that the Wyoming election system doesn’t need to be reformed. Levy also wants Gordon to diversify Wyoming’s economy. “Wyoming really needs to get over oil and gas…If they would put their efforts and money into developing alternative energy and fuels, that would be a lot better effort than trying to support the dying oil and gas market in the world…Let’s focus on other energies and get all the employees that work in the oil fields to learn how to do solar, wind…I don’t believe that our future is very solid if we keep scraping and sucking things out of the ground in Wyoming.”
Marissa Taylor, 28, of Laramie, is a daycare worker and Democrat: “The main thing that I see here, as someone who has to work three jobs, is there needs to be a diversification of the economy. People are working two or three jobs to make their rents…There’s not a lot of money going around. Obviously, minimum wage is what it is. If that could be raised to a living wage for our area, it would help astronomically.”
Stacey Marquardt, 37, of Pine Bluffs is an elementary school paraprofessional and Republican: “I think infrastructure is a big issue. I know our little town is growing faster than we can accommodate, and people have rental properties, and they are rented within at least a day or two. There’s nothing new being built. And you even see it in our schools, too. We’ve outgrown our school.”