From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 43 - October 23, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Final candidate forum held

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Candidates for the state legislature and Sublette County Commission met at the Sublette County Library for a final question and answer session — possibly one of their last chances to distinguish themselves before the Nov. 4 election.

House District 22 hopefuls Jim Roscoe (D) and Charles Stough (R), along with Commissioner John Linn (R) and hopeful Courtney Skinner (D) answered questions from a packed house on issues varying from housing to energy economics. Although running unopposed for Senate District 16, Dan Dockstader was also present.

“I hope we are fiscally responsible and conservative with our newfound wealth,” Roscoe said.

He and Stough reiterated their pact for a friendly campaign — one that both candidates admitted saw very few differences between the two.

Stough touted his experience as a banker, commenting that he has seen many economic issues from “both sides of the desk.”

He emphasized supporting measures for property tax relief — an issue that will ultimately take a state constitutional amendment.

“We have a moral imperative to reduce property taxes,” Stough said.

While Roscoe is running on the democratic ticket, he noted that he was an “extremely conservative democrat.” Like Stough, he pledged to continue the fight for property tax relief.

Economic diversity was also a topic of discussion. Roscoe emphasized supporting other means of business other than the energy industry — emphasizing the important role ranching should remain in the community.

“I don’t think the public understands the value of ranching,” Roscoe said.

Agreeing again, Stough noted that he would support more state-type business grants in order to help local businesses diversify the county economy.

Both candidates also came out in support of Wyoming’s current wolf plan.

“We should hold fast to our wolf plan and not compromise it,” Roscoe said.

Currently, the legislature is looking at possibly adopting a new plan that would put the whole state under a trophy game status. However, both candidates rejected the idea. Stough said that he “absolutely” did not support changing the plan, even in wake of the re-listing.

When asked to distinguish their candidacies, Stough took a stab at it by referencing a philosophical difference on the local Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) vote that the two candidates had. Stough argued that philanthropy and community support should fund such a large-scale project, rather than the possible one-cent increase.

“That’s, frankly, the sharpest distinction,” Stough said.

Roscoe countered that it was important to find ways to get money out of the current energy boom. The SPET would raise about 95 percent of its money from the energy industry.

When asked about education and afterschool programs at the state level, Stough balked at the idea of a government sponsored daycare program, citing that it was not in the best interests to have the government competing with the private sector.

In the end, both candidates vowed to fight for the interests of Sublette County, with particular adherence to property taxes and economic diversity. Stough commended the power of local government for getting problems solves. Roscoe also commented his desire for renewable energy work by the state legislature.

— The county commission candidates brought their longstanding histories in the county to the table in a battle between longtime Sublette County residents.

“I’ve been working hard [on the commission] for four years,” Linn said. “I want to be re-elected.”

Skinner ran for the commission the last two elections, and hoped that “the third time’s a charm.”

The national economy and housing crisis was on several audience members minds, prompting questions regarding local regulations of planning and zoning — including whether the county should stop the rapid increase in subdivisions and whether it needed a building inspector and a requirement for contractors to be licensed.

“I’m in favor of still having the Wild West,” Linn said.

The commissioner went on to talk about preserving private citizens’ rights concerning too many restrictions and that he’s “never been in favor of getting involved with the market.” He was also pleased with the work the commission has done concerning new subdivisions and an emphasis on open space.

Skinner also commented that any over-developing or housing problems “may be solved by the economy.” He did not favor too many restrictions, but vowed to keep the process as transparent and open as possible.

On the topic of infrastructure and maintenance costs, Linn emphasized reserve accounts that the current commission is, keeping up with, along with newer ideas to help combat increasing costs.

“I’m committed to looking at endowment funds to cover these utilities,” Linn added.

Skinner noted that he would want to support infrastructures that helped diversify the economy and bring something needed to the county that would help with balance and diversity.

Both candidates strongly emphasized the county’s need to be more involved with state and federal agencies, especially regarding energy development in the county.

“We need a tougher stance in regards to these agencies,” Skinner said.

He also argued that a county commission of five would better serve the increasing demands on the commission.

Linn cited his work on a federal land-use policy, something that is currently in the works.

The current commissioner argued that one of the largest reasons he’s running for reelection was to make Sublette County a place where the youth want to come back to in order to work high paying jobs. He added that the county should support that goal by helping diversify and helping provide higher education with scholarships and grants.

“I have no agenda,” Skinner said in closing statements. “I wish to serve you.”

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