Buffalo City Council and House District 40 are shaping up to be the races to watch in this year’s primary elections.
By the time filing closed on May 29, Scott Madsen, David Iverson and Zac Sexton had all announced their candidacy for two open seats on the City Council, while Deputy County Attorney Barry Crago announced that he will challenge incumbent Rep. Richard Tass for the House seat.
Incumbent Bob Perry will run against Miles “Louie” Sickler for the Johnson County Commission, while Dave Kinskey will run unopposed for reelection to Senate District 22.
House District 40
Rep. Richard Tass, R-Buffalo, ran for House District 40 in 2018 with the intention of being a conservative voice in the Legislature, and he is proud of doing just that. He has also championed across-the-board spending cuts instead of tax increases.
Tass says he is proud of all he has accomplished but noted that a conservative voice is needed in Cheyenne now more than ever.
“We need some folks down there that are going to oppose all these tax increases they’re talking about. I think I’ve learned quite a bit over the last two years, and I think I can do an even better job next time. I hope folks will see fit to send me back there,” he said.
As the state faces a 25% to 30% budget cut due to declines in the energy and tourism industries, conservative spending will become more important than ever, Tass said.
“There has been no meaningful discussion about spending cuts. I feel that state spending must be reduced significantly before there is any discussion about tax increases,” he said.
If re-elected, Tass said, he would continue his pro-life campaign by re-introducing his 48-hour waiting period bill, which died in the Senate during this past legislative session, and his “Born Alive” bill, which was vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon after passing both the Senate and the House.
Tass said he would also work to limit the influence of the Wyoming Department of Health, which he says “overstepped their bounds” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That might not have been on my priority list before, but it definitely is now,” Tass said.
Barry Crago, who has served as Johnson County’s Deputy County Attorney from 2008 to 2011 and from 2013 to present, says his approach to the job has been simple: “Find creative solutions and don’t create new problems.”
Crago said he will carry that mission statement with him if elected to the House.
“That is what I want to do, and that is now more important than ever,” Crago said. “Our state is now faced with a unique situation that’s probably once in a lifetime, and it is going to take us a while to dig out of this hole. We need some creative solutions and new perspectives, and that is what I hope to provide.”
Crago said that he will focus his energies on the state’s financial deficit and finding a way to ensure that the limited state dollars get to the local governments and local businesses that need them most.
“I think it’s important that we keep supporting our local governments,” Crago said. “Our counties, cities and towns do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as providing services to residents.”
Crago said he is also interested in issues relating to agriculture and education in the state and hopes to help both thrive.
“Politics as usual will go out of the window for a while,” Crago said. “We are going to have to focus on common sense solutions. I am not an idealogue. I just try to be pragmatic and find solutions to problems. That more than anything will by my priority.”
Senate District 22
After six years in the Senate, Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, is running unopposed for another term in Senate District 22.
“My passion for serving our state is as strong as ever,” Kinskey said. “I want to continue putting my experience to work for the place we call home. Having grown up here, I understand what’s at stake in this election. We need conservative leadership to stand strong against big government overreach and ‘tax and spend’ politicians.”
During his years in the Senate, Kinskey has fought against tax increases, pursued expansions of water resources and predator control and pushed for construction of a skilled nursing facility for veterans, among other things. Kinskey said he would continue advocating for “smaller government, more accountability and a stronger, more diverse economy” if re-elected.
“We will need to focus on broadening our economic opportunities to ensure we have the jobs we need for the long run, while continuing to battle a pandemic in the short run,” Kinskey said. “And we’ll need to strictly prioritize the state’s needs in the current tight budget environment.”
Johnson County Commission
During his first four years on the Johnson County Commission, Bob Perry has had to make many difficult decisions.
But the next four years promise to be even more challenging, Perry said. As the county faces slashing its budget and potentially letting employees go, there will be many hard decisions to make.
That’s part of the reason that Perry decided to run for a second term.
“I think it’s the least I can do,” Perry said. “The county is in such dire financial straits, it just wouldn’t be fair to bail out on them right now.”
Perry said he’s proud of the fiscal responsibility he’s displayed while serving on the commission – a skill that will become even more valuable in coming years.
“I’m pretty proud of the fact that we’ve been pretty conservative and lived within our budgetary constraints,” Perry said. “Our tax base has gone down consistently every year I’ve been on the commission, and we’re in for even leaner years due to the decline in the mineral and tourism industries.
“I hope I’m wrong, and the mineral extraction business picks up again, but I think conservative spending and doing a lot with a little will become even more important.”
Miles “Louie” Sickler has filed to run against Perry for the commission seat. Sickler could not be reached for comment.
Buffalo City Council
There is much value in fresh voices in local government, according to City Councilman Scott Madsen, but there is also value in experience – especially as the city’s budget drops by 20%.
“I think we need some experienced leadership to get us through this mess right now,” said Madsen, who has served one term on the council. “Our finances are not going to get back to normal for another year or two at least, and we need a councilman who knows where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
Finances will remain the city’s key concern in the next four years, Madsen said, and he will work to make needed budget cuts while preserving the city’s reserves.
“I’m trying to keep us in the black so we don’t spend any more in reserves than we have to,” Madsen said. “We are fortunate to have some money in reserves, but we know we need to save it for a rainy day, and it’s only sprinkling right now.”
Madsen said he also looks forward to continued involvement with ongoing city projects, including the construction of the skilled nursing facility for veterans, the Buffalo Tech Park and the reconstruction of Main Street scheduled for 2024.
“I would like to see some of those projects to completion before I call it quits,” Madsen said.
David Iverson is a longtime Buffalo resident with a passion for giving back to his community, whether as an assistant high school debate coach or member of the solid waste district board.
“With the virus and everything that happened, we are going to be facing some serious times as far as the economy goes,” Iverson said. “We need someone who is business-minded and adept at finances to help us through this challenging time.”
Iverson spent much of his professional career as a project manager for pipeline companies and ensured that multiple million-dollar projects stayed on budget. Iverson said this experience would be helpful during the city’s financial challenges.
“We are going to be facing challenging economic times across the board,” Iverson said. “We just need to decide how to best use the limited dollars we have. Because we still have to keep up the streets, and we still have projects we need to do in town, even when our biggest tourism weekends have been canceled due to the virus.”
Iverson said that he also intended to focus much of his energies on local businesses.
Zac Sexton, who is a detention deputy with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, has had a varied career crossing multiple industries from retail sales and construction to agriculture and the oil and gas industry. He says those opportunities have given him a broad understanding of the community he calls home and the diverse people who live here.
“My vast work experience in a whole bunch of things has made me super mindful of the various perspectives we have as a community,” Sexton said. “I am going to try my best and make sure everyone is heard and that we get the best information from a variety of groups in order to come up with great solutions to our problems.”
If elected, Sexton said, he will get up to speed on ongoing projects like the Buffalo Tech Park and street renovations. He also wants to find ways to make Buffalo safer for people with disabilities.
“My wife recently became blind after having issues with a brain surgery, and that put us both into a world that we weren’t really familiar with,” Sexton said. “Making Buffalo a friendly community to people with disabilities is definitely near and dear to my heart.”
Sexton said he was also interested in helping the city find ways to help former inmates become productive members of the community.
“I want to help people get their feet back under them, and be productive members of society,” Sexton said. “I don’t want the city of Buffalo to forget people have tough times and need some help.”