Our friend Max will be missed in Cheyenne

Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield
Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield

I’ll never forget the first time Max Maxfield visited Lovell. It was a late spring day, maybe even early summer. As the newly appointed director of the Wyoming Recreation Commission, he was making the rounds.

And it snowed.

The next time Max stopped by, it snowed again, or rained. I can’t remember, but it was wet.

It became our running joke. If Lovell needed water, we said, invite Max to town.

And he has returned often.

Something about North Big Horn County clicked in Max. He made several good friends here, and Lovell became his home away from home. He announced his campaigns for statewide office – secretary of state and state auditor – numerous times in Lovell, the only statewide candidate to do so, as far as I know. Lovell was kind of a good luck charm for him.

Max ran for office five times and was elected four times. At his first announcement, when he ran for secretary of state in 1994, our then 3-year-old daughter Danielle kept up a running chatter with the candidate as he was attempting to make his announcement speech. Another friendship was born.

Danielle was also an extremely effective candy distributor for Max during the Mustang Days Rose Parade when she was little. She dumped out so much candy while riding with Max that his supply was nearly exhausted before he had completed the first half of the parade and made the turn to go up the other side. Luckily for Max, Danielle spied her mother in front of the Chronicle and bailed out of the car, allowing Max to ration the candy from then on.

Max will ride in his last Lovell parade as an elected office holder this June, having announced two weeks ago that he will not seek a third term as secretary of state. He won the right to do so, winning a lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s term limits law, but he is retiring instead.

So much for critics who said Max just filed suit to further his own career.

Max is retiring from office for personal and family reasons. He wants to spend quality time with his wife, Gayla, over the next four years rather than pacing the halls of the State Capitol Building. And who can blame him?

Over the years, Max has forged an effective partnership with Big Horn County and Lovell, going to bat for many projects. He has done so because he realized early on that Wyoming’s smaller, far-flung communities needed a voice in Cheyenne.

When Max first started visiting places like Lovell, he was amazed that folks here were surprised to see a state official make the long trip from Cheyenne. He realized that state government is far more effective on the ground in communities across the state than from a desk in Cheyenne.

As a member of the State Loan and Investment Board, Max often learns about projects by peeking down manholes and touring hospitals, and on several occasions the fact that he had been out in the state to see a project first hand has allowed him to persuade his SLIB colleagues that a project needed to be funded, even when the staff recommended against it.

Health and safety are areas Max believes strongly in, and such is his partnership with Lovell that Max always jokes that he doesn’t need to mark SLIB meetings on his calendar. He knows that when Lovell Fire Chief Jim Minchow appears in his office to talk about a new fire truck, there must be a SLIB meeting the following day. He has supported the Lovell Volunteer Fire Dept., North Big Horn Hospital and Big Horn County Search and Rescue, along with other entities, during his nearly 16 years in office.

He’s also been an effective secretary of state, working hard to battle fraud and strengthen Wyoming law to prevent shell corporations from easily setting up shop.

Max is a good friend for Lovell and Big Horn County. We’re sorry to see him retire but happy he and Gayla will be able to spend more quality time together.

When you see Max during this year’s Mustang Days Parade, be sure to shake his hand and tell him thanks. He’s been a great friend and partner in Cheyenne.

by David Peck