CHEYENNE – Candidates from local races shined a light on the issues they consider the most important to address in Laramie County.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle has reached out to all 17 contenders in every primary race. Residents vote Tuesday, as well as by absentee ballot.
This is the final portion of a three-part series, and covers the city council, county commissioner, county clerk and sheriff’s race. Some of these races are nonpartisan.
Cheyenne City Council
Incumbent City Council member Scott Roybal is up for re-election in Ward I, and will face Michael Blakeley and Cameron Karajanis in the primary. Two candidates will move forward to the general election on Nov. 8.
Roybal, 63, is currently the council president, and serves on multiple community commissions. He was first elected to his seat in 1996, and served until 2000. He ran for re-election in 2014 and has been in office since then. He didn’t comment.
Blakeley, 58 and a resident of Cheyenne for five years, is an active community member. He told the WTE he plans to earn constituents’ trust by developing a fiscally strong budget, increasing police funding, addressing homelessness here, providing tax relief for businesses and revitalizing older neighborhoods.
He proposed to not take the pay city council members receive, and rather to donate it to charities in Cheyenne.
Karajanis, 32, said in a statement he’s “running to continue Cheyenne’s path forward, to have a community focused council with an emphasis on leadership and renewed representation for Ward I.”
Another City Council primary election is for Ward II.
Incumbent Dr. Mark Rinne, 70, is in the running with three other candidates. Two out of the four total candidates in Ward II will move forward to the general election.
Rinne is the longest tenured member of the governing body, having served six terms and as council president nine times. He didn’t comment.
Lynn Storey-Huylar, 58, has lived in Cheyenne her entire life and wants to continue to be a part of the growth and development here. She wants to work with council members on community issues. She served on the Laramie County School District 1 board of trustees for eight years, and was chair for two of those.
“I also work for a non-profit organization as the executive director and know it takes cooperation and a multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems. I understand working with different entities and listening to various points of view,” she said in a statement. “I have also held various other leadership positions, including being a governor appointee to the Children’s Trust Fund Board and the chair of the statewide Children’s Justice Act Task Force.”
Her priorities would include making sure sixth-penny sales tax projects are implemented in due time and in a fiscally responsible way, addressing the housing shortage, supporting vulnerable populations and increasing revenue with the development of small neighborhood businesses.
Matt Miller, 48, and Brian Eicholtz did not comment.
There are seven Republican candidates vying for three seats on the Laramie County Board of Commissioners, and no Democrats to face in a general election.
Seeking another term are Linda Heath, Gunnar Malm and Troy Thompson.
Heath, 63, has served on the commission since 2014. She didn’t comment.
Thompson, 51, is the chairman of the county board, and has been a commissioner since 2010. He is also liaison to five other local boards, is a member of the National Association of County Officials and serves on the executive board of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association.
He told the WTE he has loved being a county commissioner, and hopes to continue his work on economic projects and following through on sixth-penny sales tax projects. His priorities are to have a conservative budget, keep a strong relationship with LEADS and the local business council on economic development, as well as manage the residential growth.
“It’s been a challenge, because our job is to allow people to do what they want to do with their land, while we mitigate the adverse effects on their neighbors,” he said. “We do that wisely by having a good set of land-use regulations that are flexible and can be changed.”
Malm, 38, who is finishing up his first term. He served as public policy chair for the Wyoming Association of Realtors, the president of the Cheyenne Board of Realtors and currently is the vice chair of the Cheyenne Planning Commission.
His priorities include ensuring sixth-penny sales tax projects are finished on time, and continuing a policy of fiscal conservatism that he said has allowed the county to be the only local government in the state that didn’t lay off workers during the pandemic. He plans to continue economic diversification efforts, which Malm believes have already paid dividends in making Laramie County the leading economy in the state.
Bryce Freeman, Brian Casey, Abbie Mildenberger and Sam Eliopolous are the non-incumbents campaigning for one of the three seats available this election cycle.
“I have always believed that if one is dissatisfied with their government representatives the best way to effect change is to take action,” said Freeman, 61, in a statement. “It is much more difficult to change government from the outside than it is from the inside. It is easier to simply look on from the outside and cast stones.”
He is running because he said many of his friends and neighbors are dissatisfied with the way the county government functions, and he wants to bring a fresh perspective. He cites his professional background in large infrastructure projects, complex rate-setting issues and consumer advocacy. He also wants to apply his values as an old-fashioned Republican to create a smaller government that is closest to the people, and focus on essential functions.
Freeman told the WTE his top three priorities are making the county a better place for constituents and to ensure their concerns are listened to, reexamine the county’s budget priorities and solve the groundwater issue. He said he is pro-growth, but wants it to be sustainable.
Casey, 50, like Freeman, said he can’t sit on the sidelines and complain. He believes it’s his civic duty to seek public office. He said he is not a politician, but rather runs a construction business.
“I, with the tremendous help from my family, have built a business from nothing to over 20 employees and 19 plus years,” he wrote the WTE. “This gives me the aptitude for problem solving and business sense. Our county is a business and needs to be run as such.”
His top three priorities are to try and get updated data from the state for water issues, to look closely at county departments to ensure efficiency and make sure the commissioners are good stewards of the tax dollars.
Mildenberger, 36, told the WTE in a questionnaire she decided to run after voicing her concerns regarding a new neighboring subdivision last year. She didn’t feel as though she was heard.
Eliopolous, 51, didn’t comment.
Debra Lee is the current Laramie County clerk, and she is being challenged in the Republican primary by Andy McMahon.
Lee has served the county since 2016, and told the WTE she pledged to bring a fresh perspective and energy to the office, which she has done.
“We’ve launched innovative programs, developed solutions to bring greater transparency, efficiency, accessibility and information to the people of Laramie County,” she wrote. “We’ve worked hard to make our elections more secure and transparent before those topics became the subject of national news.”
McMahon, 55, has lived in Cheyenne his entire life and has spent the past 22 years working for an accessible-automobile dealer.
“One of my duties as the general manager of Frontier is to process all incoming and outgoing auto titles through the Laramie County Clerk’s Office. Over the last 3 years there has been a disturbing trend in the Clerk’s office towards the promptness of title processing and the attitude towards customer service has declined as well,” he said in a statement. “Currently if you drop a title off for processing and don’t wait for it in person it takes 8 to 12 weeks.”
He is concerned because the State of Wyoming requires the treasurer’s office to collect sales tax from new car purchasers within 60 days. A new car purchaser cannot pay their sales tax until the title is processed, as a result of the lag in the Clerk’s office, many new car purchasers end up being in violation of the sales tax time frame and are charged a penalty.
McMahon criticized the election office, saying the deputy clerk resigned recently because of these issues. His priorities include shorter lines and full employment in the title department, happier coworkers and election security and integrity.
There are three candidates in the Republican primary for county sheriff, after the incumbent, Danny Glick, decided to not run again.
Brian Kozak, Boyd Wrede or Don Hollingshead will move onto the general election ballot, along with Democratic candidate Jess Fresquez and independent candidate Jeff Barnes.
Kozak has served as an officer for 25 years, including 11 years as the Cheyenne police chief. His priorities are bringing a positive leadership culture, as he did in the city department by launching community engagement programs. He wants to focus on employee recruitment and retention, and partner well with surrounding public safety agencies.
He believes a significant amount of his attention will be in bringing the jail into the 21st century by implementing best practices designed to reduce recidivism by 50%.
“As a former jail commander he knows that the jail is the perfect place to start drug treatment. Thus, his goal is to implement addiction severity index screening in the jail and begin drug treatment programming, which is not currently done,” his statement said. “He would like to start inmate work details to help in the community and a work release program for low risk offenders. Brian would like the jail to become compliant with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which will open many grant opprotunities for mental health and drug treatment.”
Wrede, 53, said he saw the need to step in while on the bomb squad and mounted patrol units that were joint teams between the Cheyenne Police Department and the sheriff’s office. He said there were inequities between the two agencies that were leading to poor morale, which he hopes to address.
“I worked on the fugitive task force with the US Marshals, Executive Protection with the Secret Service when the Vice President was in southeast Wyo. I was a Detective for 4 years, 8 years as a Patrol Sergeant and an acting Lieutenant,” he said in a statement. “The biggest difference between me and my opponents is that I am the 5th generation of my family to call Laramie County my home. I have the most diverse law enforcement background to include experience as a detective.”
His top priorities would be to improve manpower to ensure safety, work with county commissioners to establish a fair, structured pay scale and evaluate and streamline jail intake procedures.
Hollingshead, 55, didn’t comment.