Meet Your Candidates: Laramie County Commissioner

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. 25, 2022 at 4:42 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - We reached out to all of the candidates who have filed for Laramie County Commissioner, via email. Below are the candidates who are running for Laramie County Commissioner who responded to our request, in no particular order. The following information below is written by the candidates and unedited by Wyoming News Now.

Bryce J. Freeman

Occupation: Administrator of the Wyoming Office of Consumer Advocate which advocates for the best interests of Wyoming utility ratepayers before the Wyoming Public Service Commission. I plan to retire from state government on September 2, 2022.

Political Experience: None.

How long have you lived in Laramie County?: 48 years.

Why are you running?: I’ve always believed that if one is dissatisfied with the performance of elected officials, or simply believes that government processes can be improved to encourage citizen engagement in their government, the best way to effect change is to participate. Changing the government from the outside is very difficult. Over the course of my career in state government I have been fortunate to have been in positions devoted to advocating the best interests of citizens all over the state of Wyoming. My work at the OCA on behalf of utility consumers over the last twenty years touches the lives of nearly every person and business in the state. That is a humbling responsibility and one that I have not taken lightly. I have found over the years in my utility regulatory work that the easy thing and the right thing are often not the same thing. If elected, my goal would be to ensure that the Commission always does the right thing instead of the easy thing. In my view, that begins with making county government not just open but inviting to the citizens it serves.

In your opinion, what is Laramie County’s biggest strength and weakness?: Without a doubt Laramie County’s greatest strength is its residents. The people who live and work in Laramie County are intelligent, hard working and resourceful. Laramie County is home to many entrepreneurs and small business owners that provide critical products and services to our communities. The citizens of Laramie County are also extraordinarily generous and civic minded with numerous non-profit and civic organizations filling vital roles in delivering social services, education and youth development and training. Many of these organizations depend on volunteers who contribute tens of thousands of hours annually to achieve the mission of making life better for those who live in Laramie County.

Certainly one of the biggest weaknesses we have presently is a lack of transparent and accountable leadership at the Laramie County Board of Commissioners. Rather than inviting public participation in its decision making process, the current Commission either dismisses or ignores public comment on important matters that affect the lives of Laramie County residents. Accordingly, its decisions in many important matters are misinformed, misguided and in some cases, wrongheaded. The best decisions are always made based on gathering the largest amount of relevant information available, and vetting that information in an open public process that is informed by rigorous public debate.

What is your biggest strength?: My biggest strength is leadership. During my career I have been in many leadership positions and have analyzed many infrastructure projects, ranging from small water system repairs to the construction of multi-billion dollar interstate electric transmission projects. As such, I have accumulated nearly 40 years of institutional knowledge of the financing, design, construction and operation of large integrated infrastructure systems. I have led a team of highly skilled professional accountants, engineers, economists and attorneys in reviewing these investments and providing evidence to be adjudicated in quasi-judicial proceedings. My job is to uphold the overall public interest.

Additional info you want the people to know: I have devoted the last nearly forty years of my professional life in public service to the citizens of Wyoming. I have been fortunate to serve in roles in state government in which I actively advocated for the best interests of utility ratepayers and the overall public interest. Much of my work has been out of sight of the general public but I take great satisfaction in knowing that Wyoming utility ratepayers pay among the lowest rates in the country for utility service, and at the same time, enjoy among the safest and most reliable utility service in the country. In the end, good utility ratemaking comes down to a balance between affordability and reliability. The most reliable service imaginable is of no value to customers if they can’t afford to pay for it and, conversely, the most inexpensive service available is of no use to customers if it doesn’t work when they need it. This is not unlike the public interest balancing that the Laramie County Commission must engage in when it decides important matters. Having assessed the prudency of literally billions of dollars in proposed utility investments during my career, I believe I am uniquely qualified to be a Commissioner and possess the institutional knowledge, skills and abilities to restore good governance in Laramie County.

Gunnar Malm

Occupation: Real Estate.

Political Experience: 3.5 years as a Commissioner, Past Public Policy Chair Wyoming Realtors and Cheyenne Board of Realtors. Federal Political Coordinator For the National Association of Realtors for Senator Cynthia Lummis.

How long have you lived in Laramie County?: 38 years.

Why are you running?: I am a 6th generation LC native so am rooted in the county but have a vision for the future. have an amazing community and are accomplishing some great things. I want to continue to serve ALL the residents of Laramie County and help continue to make Laramie County the best County in the Best State in the country.

In your opinion, what is Laramie County’s biggest strength and weakness?: Laramie County’s greatest strengths are its people. Our grit, ingenuity and compassion are what make us successful! Our biggest weakness is the availability of the workforce. I am glad that we are making strides in this area through partnerships to attract, train and enhance our workforce.

What is your biggest strength?: I believe I take a pragmatic approach to the issues facing our community. I am a fiscal conservative and small businessman who has a proven record of being a good fiduciary of taxpayer monies.

Abigail (Abbie) Mildenberger

Occupation: I am primarily a stay at home mom to my four boys and I also work part time as a Financial Officer for a small local business here in Cheyenne.

Political Experience: I have no previous political experience.

How long have you lived in Laramie County?: We are approaching 8 years in Laramie County. We lived on the Southside of Cheyenne from 2014-2020. We moved west of town off Happy Jack Road in 2020.

Why are you running?: I am running for Laramie County Commissioner because I am concerned about the effect our rapid growth is having on our resources, especially our water. I would also like to see the budget reduced and look at ways the county can run more efficiently.

In your opinion, what is Laramie County’s biggest strength and weakness?: Strengths: Laramie County is full of wonderful people. It is home to Cheyenne Frontier Days but also to many other fun events throughout the county. We are unique in Wyoming in that we are home to the State Capitol and an air force base. Even as we grow, we still hold many of the small town Wyoming values. Weaknesses: We are growing at a rapid rate and our infrastructure and resources are struggling to keep up. While I said one of our strengths is that we still have small town values, as we continue to grow, I do see some of those values going away. We also have issues in Cheyenne with homelessness, drugs, and crime that are harder to get a handle on because of our location at the intersection of two major interstate highways.

What is your biggest strength?: I know it’s cliché, but I am very organized and detail oriented. I look at all of the information and try to consider all options before making a decision.

Additional info you want the people to know: I want to hear from people. How can you truly represent the people who elect you if you don’t listen to them. I will try to respond to every call and email I receive.

Linda Heath

Occupation: Current County Commissioner.

Political Experience: Precinct Committee woman 27 years, County Commissioner 8 years.

How long have you lived in Laramie County?: 31 years.

Why are you running?: Running for re-election to continue working to make Laramie County a better place to live, work and play. To keep Laramie county a business friendly community by keeping regulations at the county level reasonable and allowing businesses to make operating decisions for themselves.

In your opinion, what is Laramie County’s biggest strength and weakness?: Our biggest strength is our people and their desire to solve problems. Our weakness, I wish more people would be involved in government by attending meetings and providing public comment to the issues being addressed.

What is your biggest strength?: Listening to learn, not just to reply. I believe every resident of Laramie county is important regardless of political affiliation, age, religion, educational level or sex.

Additional info you want the people to know: While some taut their lifelong or generational connection to Laramie County, I have lived in multiple states as an USAF Spouse and have watched government in action there. I am not related to everyone in the County and can view each project, especially in planning and development, on equal footing and with impartiality.

Sam Eliopoulos

Occupation: Chief Executive Officer/Founder, Alllies in Advocacy.

Political Experience: 2nd campaign.

How long have you lived in Laramie County?: 51 years.

Why are you running?: I cannot sit on the sidelines and complain about what I don’t like. I have to do something about it.

In your opinion, what is Laramie County’s biggest strength and weakness?: Our values are still intact and that is our strength. But we lack in communication and transparency, that is our weakness.

What is your biggest strength?: My ability to stand up and do what is right.

Additional info you want the people to know: God, family, country, are the principles that guide my life and my decisions. I very much support our constitution because my parents, especially my father, escaped from communism to immigrate to this great county.

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