Meet Your Candidates: Casper City Council

The Wyoming Primary Elections will take place on Aug. 16, 2022.
The Wyoming Primary Elections will take place on Aug. 16, 2022.(MGN)
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 9:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - We reached out via email and phone to all candidates running for City Council positions in Casper. Below are the candidates running who responded to our request. The information below is written by the candidates and unedited by Wyoming News Now.

Ward One

We contacted all of the candidates filing for Casper’s ward one city council position via email to learn more about them. Below are the council candidates that are running. The information below was written by the candidates and is unedited by Wyoming News Now.

NAME: Jai-Ayla Sutherland

AGE: 34

OCCUPATION: Program Specialist, Stanley Center for Peace and Security

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: current city council member, ward 1

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? I was born and raised in Casper. I left for school and work and returned in 2017

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I care about our community. I’m raising my children here, and I want to be active in helping Casper stay a safe and friendly community where people love to live, work, and visit. I want to help make decisions that consider our current needs as well as those of our generations to come.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

I think it is fair to say the budget, and more specifically the responsible use of taxpayer money, is an important and necessary challenge. The city is facing the same inflation issues that members of our community face. That reality affects our ability to keep up with infrastructure maintenance/development and facility needs. I think the bigger challenge is balancing that responsibility with the challenge of ensuring that Casper continues developing as a community where people love living, working and visiting. We need to ensure that everyone feels welcome and knows they have a future here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I have really enjoyed my time on Council. I hope that I have demonstrated that I am a good listener and a fast learner. I enjoy challenges and have a problem-solving mentality. I care deeply that all people in our community feel they belong, are safe, and that their voice matters. My professional experience prepares me to understand the challenges and opportunities that come with policy making. I value critical thinking and constructive dialogue. I also appreciate the challenge of addressing complex priorities and budgets. I’m a mom, and parenthood certainly prepares me to understand how to navigate conflict respectfully, understand others’ perspectives, and think creatively with purpose.

NAME: Gena Jensen

AGE: 46

OCCUPATION: Director of The National Historic Trails Center Foundation

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: NO Political experience

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? 15 years

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? Simply put, I love Casper and I have devoted my time and energy to our community for over a decade. I decided to run because I believe in the vision of Casper, want to help it achieve its goals, and have the organizational leadership skills and work ethic to help continue to lead the city into the future. By having the courage and taking this next step, I will grow professionally in my role as I continue my Master’s in Public Administration.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Like any town or city Casper has its own challenges with budgeting. We are growing in population and that means our infrastructure needs to grow along with it at the same rate to keep balance. With that being said, more monies are having to go towards roads, water, emergency, and social services to keep up with demand and wear and tear. Whether the community is ready for it or not changes have to be made. The Challenge is how to acquire and distribute available funds adequately that meet the communities demands without disrupting their quality of life too much. That is a huge challenge to tackle but not impossible.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I feel that by keeping Wyoming’s Cowboy Code of Ethics in the decision-making process this city will continue to grow within the framework of our predecessors. I also believe that preserving our heritage and culture is what continues to make us a great city to live in and grow in.

NAME: Dennis Rollins

AGE: 67

OCCUPATION: Independent film producer

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: zero

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? 34 years

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I would like to give back to the community that has given so much to me

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? To make sure our citizens feel safe and their needs are addressed

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I owned a small business here for 17 years, I currently sit on the Board of Education for Mt. Hope Lutheran School. I am past president of Stage III Community Theatre, as well as past Vice President of the Wy. State Auto Racing Assoc. For 2 1/2 years I operated the Public Access channel for the City of Casper, during which time I produced television segments spotlighting city programs and services. I feel my experiences through my years here give me a unique cross section of so much about our city.

Travis Van Hecke

-Did Not Respond

John Minchow

-Did Not Respond

Ward Two

We contacted all of the candidates filing for Casper’s ward two city council position via email to learn more about them. Below are the council candidates that are running. The information below was written by the candidates and is unedited by Wyoming News Now.

NAME: Nikki Green

AGE: 44 (7/28/77)

OCCUPATION: Small business owner. Aspire Case Management Services, LLC

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: High School Senior Vice President AKA: none

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? My family and I moved to Casper in September 2003

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I think that I can provide a unique perspective to the Council. I have worked management positions in a variety of different fields (everything from a day spa to construction to lending to advertising, RVs and restaurants). I have started and failed at several businesses. I am currently the co-owner of a successful business that will be celebrating its 5th anniversary this fall. In addition to forging my way in the business world, I have made it a priority to give back to the community I live in, particularly in respect to the disability community by serving on several boards (Special Olympics, APSE, WCSP, and CCPD). Finally, I have done all this while raising 3 children, one of which has has a disability and maintaining a 21-year marriage.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Casper faces many challenges. The foremost being Inflation, supply chain issues and lack of qualified employees. The City received a significant amount of one-time funds in the form of ARPA and CARES funding during the pandemic. These funds seem like a windfall but will not support spending for the long-term. The funds have been allocated with care but need to be monitored to ensure that the projects that they have been ear-marked for are still affordable or can be trimmed to cover for the costs of goods. The Council should continue to pursue grants and sponsorship opportunities.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Constituents can learn more about me by checking out my website: nikkigreen.info. I look forward to answering questions, being available and further serving the community.

NAME: Eric Paulson

AGE: 39

OCCUPATION: 15 years in office managment for the medical industry, I am also a small business owner of Paulson Rentals and Sigma Tactical Solution for over +15 years.

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: First and foremost, I was raised by a Reaganite who passionately believed that politics is taught around the dinner table. I have been discussing free market, the constitution, and bi-partisan politics since I was young enough to not have a highchair at the dinner table. I am also a philanthropist and volunteer with several organizations in our city such as Meals on Wheels and Big Brother of Wyoming. I am also a grassroots political activist with experience organizing local events for our community such as last year’s food drive for the freedom convoy and a “Support your local law enforcement rally” that I organized. I operate a local group that focuses on providing survival skills. We have an upcoming event in August hosted by Backcountry Doctors that will focus on trauma medicine and how to best care for our loved ones when emergency health services are not available.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? +35 years.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I decided to run after reaching out to the candidates in my district, the majority who support more spending. We are in a challenging economic time in America. The excessive spending and failure of our current council to reduce tax levies is almost criminal. When Americans are preparing for tougher economic times, it is of the upmost importance that our government be leading the charge in reducing spending. Also, that they are ensuring the quality of life not just the select few but for all those that live in our great city.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Property taxes are a twofold problem. First, the State Legislature must pass legislation that simplifies calculating property values as well as preventing the State Board of Equalization’s involvement in manipulating data based on current property values. Property values should be based on the value at the time of purchase with a measured percentage capping to keep property taxes limited and affordable to residents.

Second, we need to stop increased spending. State Legislation should be passed to require reductions at State and Local Levels during hyper-inflation or economic downturns to help property owners. City Council and County Commissioners must adjust their spending and reduce mil levies to help residents with property taxes. They are refusing to do this.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I want to thank you for taking the time to read my answers. I look forward to being a representative for the hard-working people of Ward 2 and Casper. With your vote you will be electing a fiscally responsible and constitutionally focused candidate that will work with you personally on the issues we face in our city. I will champion the cause of a government of the people and for the people by providing accountability and better access to communicate with the city.

Dan Elston

-Did Not Respond

Michael Bond

-Did Not Respond

Ward Three

We contacted all of the candidates filing for Casper’s ward three city council position via email to learn more about them. Below are the council candidates that are running. The information below was written by the candidates and is unedited by Wyoming News Now.

NAME: Brandy Haskins

AGE: 41

OCCUPATION: Financial/HR Manager at Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? 23 years

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I find City Council to be very interesting, I love working on budgets, I am in a place in my life now that I have the time to devote to Council, and I know I will be good at it!

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? We don’t have enough money to do everything we would like to do. We are currently living in a time where we need to prioritize our funds.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: I would love to talk to anyone in Ward 3 to hear your thoughts! Feel free to email me at any time!

NAME: Woody Warren

AGE: 41

OCCUPATION: Manager at Hobby Lobby

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Ran for Council in 2020, other than that, none.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? Since Jan 2007

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? Instead of constantly complaining about how our local government handles things, I needed to step up and see if I could make a difference.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Financial responsibility and transparency. It seems like we have way too much money going to projects that seem to never get started, and not enough to basic needs (ie, infrastructure).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Being a registered Libertarian, I am committed to fiscal responsibility and reduced government overreach. As a community, we have seen too little of the first and way too much of the latter. I have been in Retail Management for over 20 years, and have the business and financial background to help get “into the weeds” and really see where we are struggling financially. My family has lived in this community for 15 years now, and I want to help make this a better, more stable place for my children to grow up in.

NAME: Ray Pacheco

AGE: 45

OCCUPATION: Sr. Director of Programs and Community Engagement Natrona County Collective Health Trust

POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: 7 1/2 years on Casper City Council

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN CASPER? 45 years. All my life

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING? I want to continue the work that has been done the last several years on city council. Continued work on economic development (keeping our young people here), working on shoring up and funding our aging infrastructure including our water systems, streets, and aging buildings. Also, every year for the last 7 years we have had a balanced budget, we need to continue to be vigilant about spending and being fiscally responsible. There is a myriad of issues (good and bad) that affect our community, its important that we are taking the time to pragmatically look at each of them. We need a steady voice and a person who is willing to see all sides of the issues, someone who listens and makes informed decisions based on facts and research. I have a strong history of making levelheaded decisions and working together to do what’s in the best interest of our community.

WHAT IS CASPERS BIGGEST CHALLENGE? There are several challenges we face in Casper. Choosing one is a difficult task. However, Casper has many great things happening and many positive aspects to it. Here are a few challenges we face:

  • Aging infrastructure: streets, city buildings, water systems. We will need to find ways to fund these in the coming years. These are the life blood of our community. We will need a strong focus on setting goals to find funding for each of these critical areas.
  • Economic diversification. While this has been a buzz word for a few years now, it will be incredibly important to find ways to diversify our economy. We know that industry staples like coal gas and oil will continue to be our backbone for our city and state it will be important as a city to find new and innovative ways to attract and invest in things like tech industry, renewable energy, and find ways to support small and private businesses so they can grow and thrive. This will be vital as we look into the years ahead and keep our young people here in Wyoming.

Ryan Amadio

-Did Not Respond

Trevor Mahlum

-Did Not Respond

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