From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 15 - April 10, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Olsen steps down

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Rep. Monte Olsen will not seek re-election this fall for House District 22.

“I’ve decided after three terms not to run for re-election,” Olsen said. “The main reason being personal, but I need to take care of my health, and that’s more important than anything.”

The Daniel resident has been recovering from an incident last April, when he was struck by an SUV driven by his wife, Lisa Glenn. However, after a strenuous start to his re-acclimation in the legislature, it appeared as though Olsen had regained his vigor during the recently completed budget session.

“I left the session thinking that I was going to run,” Olsen said. “After a lot of reflection and just thinking about my health since the accident, I’d like to just make sure that I can get really healthy.”

Olsen has shouldered the difficulty of how District 22 is divided. It encompasses the majority of Sublette County, but has parts of three separate counties.

Local officials lamented the loss of a man who fought for many Sublette County issues. “I would like to thank Monte for his dedication to the folks of Sublette County,” said William Cramer, chairman of the Sublette County Commission. “He has always done his best to represent us here and has put in a lot of time and effort during his three terms. He has always been available to discuss and work on solving issues that are important to us here in Sublette County.”

Even at the town level, Olsen had open communication, not just with Pinedale, but also Big Piney and Marbleton, Pinedale Mayor Steve Smith said.

“Monte’s heart’s always been in the right place,” Smith added. “He’d always listen to our concerns and do what he could to help us.”

Perhaps Olsen’s legacy in the legislature will rest with unfinished business. “I think the most important thing I’m proud of is leading the fight for property tax reform,” Olsen said. “We’re getting closer on that.”

Indeed, Olsen’s property tax made it farther than it ever had this budget session, making it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote.

“He has tried with persistence to get a property tax relief bill passed that will benefit us here in Sublette County and for that I thank him,” Cramer said. “Unfortunately all the hard work and persistence doesn’t always get all the results we desire since Monte is only one person in our legislature.”

Olsen remained dedicated while working hard on the judiciary committee, management and audit committee and the Wyoming State Employee’s Compensation committee. “People don’t understand the hours of work [legislators] log in preparation for the session and the near round-the-clock work they do to produce such a large amount of legislation in such a short amount of time,” United States Senator Mike Enzi said.

“Monte has been an effective member of the legislature’s judiciary committee, instituting various changes to statutes to protect children,” said Cat Urbigkit, chair of the Sublette County Republican Party. “One of the things that I appreciate about Monte’s time in the legislature was his teaming up with Sen. John Hines to be agriculture’s legislative team when it came to funding our state’s brucellosis program. That really helped our cattle producers in a bad situation.”

Olsen was pleased to have been able to pass some sort of legislation for each part of his district since he arrived in Cheyenne in 2002 for his first term. “He was a good speaker on addressing issues, and he never hesitated to address an issue,” said Rep. Pete Jorgenson, D-Jackson.

Jorgenson remembered during the freshman representative caucus that Olsen was somewhat “chafed” at the partisan nature of the caucuses, and said the freshman representative spoke up about it, taking the Speaker of the House off-guard.

“Monte never hesitated to rock the boat when necessary,” he added.

The Republican Party, with the support of Olsen, must now look to fill a vacancy previously held by a six-year incumbent.

“That’s why I’m coming out right now, and letting people know about it, so that those potential candidates who want to run for the nomination, they can have an opportunity to start thinking about it, talking to their families, their friends, putting their committees together and preparing for a primary race,” Olsen said.

Urbigkit said that Olsen had already “graciously” volunteered to help in the search for his replacement. Cramer expressed hope that somebody inside Sublette County would run for the nomination.

As for Olsen, he still has work to do. “I’m still a member of the Wyoming legislature until December 31, 2008,” he said. “I plan on working vigorously in that capacity for the people in my district. You don’t give up on that.”

Until then, his colleagues wish him the best of luck.

“We’re sorry to see Monte leave the legislature, but we understand his need to continue the healing process,” Urbigkit said.

“I commend Monte for his hard work, dedication and persistence and applaud him for his successes in Cheyenne on behalf of Sublette County,” Cramer added. “I wish Monte all the best, good health and happiness.”

However, Olsen doesn’t want his politicalobit written quite yet, so perhaps this is just a chapter closed.

“This does not mean I’m going to be out of politics,” Olsen smiled. “I’ll stay active. I’ll voice my opinion just like I have before. You never know, in a few years if things turn out OK physically, and in every other direction I need to go, I’ll run again for something. “I do love serving the people of this district and this state.”

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