Over 999,000 readers this year!

‘Meet the Candidates’: Marguerite Herman for Wyoming State Senate

Marguerite Herman

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In this edition of “Meet the Candidates,” Marguerite Herman shares with Cap City News how she envisions governing Wyoming if elected to the state Legislature. Herman is one of two people running for Senate District 8.

The following are responses that Herman shared with Cap City News. To view the Q&As of other candidates who have also submitted answers to us, click here.

What are your top three legislative priorities if elected to the Wyoming State Senate, and how do you plan to achieve them?

My priorities grow out of years of reporting on the Legislature and advocacy for issues for the League of Women Voters of Wyoming. They are: strong public schools, healthy families and free and fair elections. How I achieve that: knowledge, experience, communication and collaboration.

As I serve on Senate committees and on the Senate floor, I can represent the interests and concerns of the people in Senate District 8, Laramie County and the state. I will talk frequently to my constituents, not just at election time, to learn about their issues and answer questions. In the Senate, I will speak with a local voice on state-level proposals. I will advocate for local schools and families as the Senate crafts the best possible legislation.

I spent eight years in a nonpartisan office, as a trustee for Laramie County School District 1, with a focus on duties to schools and children. I resisted distractions of local and national politics and alliances that put other interests first. As a senator, and with focus on the people of my district, I will work hard to understand their problems and work with diverse groups across aisles to reach solutions.

What policies do you support to stimulate economic growth and diversify Wyoming’s economy beyond its traditional industries?

People want to diversify Wyoming’s economy, but most ideas tweak current practices or they are too drastic for traditionalists. We are cautious about doing things at the expense of the small-town values and open spaces we love. The Legislature also has used tax breaks, but before we do more of those I’d like to see some analysis of how they worked.

Oil, gas, coal and other minerals have served this state well, but that reliance gives Wyoming one of the most volatile economies in the nation and makes it difficult to plan. Plus, they will run out. Fortunately, the Legislature has been good about saving one-time mineral revenue, and our General Fund benefits from savings income.

For a reliable and sustainable economy, we need new ideas and support. There is a role for the state to work with local governments to make Wyoming attractive to businesses to start or relocate here. I’m thinking about Gov. Freudenthal’s “business-ready community” program. That would include infrastructure, housing and amenities that most employers want for their workforce. Economic incentives to businesses should come with proven payoff, to help us compete with other states in the region. The Legislature should support local business initiatives, including voter-approved taxes to invest in local programs.

One of the best economic development tools continues to be our K-12 schools and community colleges, to attract young families, provide strong career/trades preparation for our young adults and coordinate with workforce needs of new and existing businesses.

How do you plan to support and improve the education system and workforce training programs in Wyoming?

I support full funding of K-12 schools and community colleges, which are doing an excellent job of preparing our children and older citizens for college, career and military. In recent years, they cooperate closely to determine local workforce needs and to design continuing programs to meet those needs.

Financial support is essential. I’d like to take a look at the adequacy and fairness of funding for community colleges to ensure ongoing service to all of our state’s residents, including those who find themselves facing a change in careers and needing updated or different skills.

What measures would you advocate for to improve healthcare access and affordability for Wyoming residents?

There’s real potential in federal funding to give low-income Wyoming families access to healthcare covered by the state Medicaid program. An estimated 19,000 Wyoming people don’t make enough to qualify for the subsidized health insurance plans on the ACA “exchange,” and they go without or go into debt. Wyoming employers that can’t provide insurance support Medicaid access. The state’s economy benefits from having a healthy workforce, and ability to pay medical bills is a benefit to Wyoming’s health care system. In addition, more people paying bills means everyone is spared covering “uncompensated care” that otherwise must be absorbed by providers, which drives up everyone’s bills.

How do you plan to balance Wyoming’s energy production with environmental conservation and sustainability efforts?

Balance requires recognizing the importance of all factors: wildlife and open spaces AND energy, industrial and real estate development. All are important to Wyoming and our future. One can’t always dominate.

I have a friend, well-respected for her conservation experience and wisdom, who talks about “the Wyoming way” of finding balance by using existing regulations, taking a case-by-case analysis and always building on broad consensus that we value all of those things: development AND wildlife/open spaces. We can identify spaces necessary to conserve wildlife habitat and migration and at the same time acknowledge development essential to take care of our people and accommodate development essential to our economy — all of it within federal and state land laws.

Within that framework, we can accommodate all essential needs. It’s necessary to see the whole state and all its interests in every decision.

Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?

Some biographical info:
I have lived around the world as part of a U.S. Air Force family and eventually moved to Cheyenne as a reporter for The Associated Press in 1980. I have lived in the neighborhoods of Senate District 8 for all of the 44 years since then. I was twice elected to the LCSD1 Board and remain involved with K-12 education on local and state levels. As a lobbyist for the League of Women Voters, I have been an advocate for free and fair elections. I am known for working with diverse groups to seek practical solutions to real problems. In 2006, I wrote a 400-page guide to state government, “A Look at Wyoming Government.” I hold master’s degrees in education and journalism.

I have been a business owner and have been active in many organizations, including Wyoming State Board of Nursing, Wyoming Children’s Trust Fund, League of Women Voters, Cheyenne Schools Foundation, COMEA (homeless shelter), Wyoming Breastfeeding Coalition, Wyoming Girls State, Wyoming High School Mock Trial, St. Mary’s Cathedral music and Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education (HOPE).