Residents from Deaver got a knock on their door from an unexpected guest Monday evening.
Mary Throne, Democratic candidate for Governor of Wyoming, was canvassing the neighborhood.
Throne currently represented the 11th House District of Wyoming, for years. 2018 marks her first run for Governor.
Throne cleared roughly half of the community Monday, knocking on nearly every door from Central Avenue to 2nd Avenue, going the span of West 1st Street to West 3rd Street.
Canvassing at 4:30 p.m. can be a lonely affair, with many residents still at work, but along with leaving numerous door hangers, Throne managed to talk with staff members of Rocky Mountain Elementary as well as two nurses from medical clinics in Powell. Both education and healthcare are common concerns among people statewide, and those concerns are just as valid for people in Deaver as they are for people in Cheyenne.
She’s made it a point, Throne said, to canvass everywhere she can, regardless of a community’s size.
“I feel like we (politicians) don’t feel out communities as much as we should,” Throne said. “Each place is different and unique and there are also a lot of things that tie us together. This area is a strong agricultural community, and it has a large recreation potential that isn’t fully developed.”
Northern Big Horn County, especially, Throne said, values education.
“The Senate tried to amend the constitution so they wouldn’t have to fund up to the standard of a quality education and that included (recently ousted Senator) Ray Peterson,” Throne said, crossing a field between First avenue and Second Avenue, referring to a amendment proposed by Sen. Affie Ellis (R-Cheyenne) asked voters to change Wyoming’s Constitution to limit judicial oversight of education funding, thus giving the Legislature more power over it.
“Voters here noticed that,” Throne said.
Throne picked up the topic later at the Brandin’ Iron in Lovell, where she stopped to eat dinner and talk to patrons.
“We had Senators who were really misleading the public,” Throne said. “They would pick the scores that looked the worst, and paint a false picture to say we need to change the funding. Our education performance is currently ranked seventh in the nation.”
Regardless, Throne said, it’s Wyoming’s constitutional obligation to fully fund education in Wyoming. It isn’t a matter of determining if the funds are too high, it’s a matter of determining what the state needs to allocate and then proceeding to allocate it.
“We are shooting ourselves in the foot if we don’t,” Throne said. “We want our kids to be able to stay and live here and we know that quality education is one of the most important elements in building an economy. Great education attracts families. It attracts businesses.”
It’s the same kind of backwards thinking that has prevented the state from going after Medicaid expansion, she said.
If she’s elected, Throne said, she would accept federal funding to help 20,000 people get access to Medicaid. 90 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid would end up being paid for by Washington, Throne said.
“20,000 people in Wyoming don’t have access to sufficient care, so whenever they get sick, they go to emergency care,” Throne said. “We’re still paying that bill. That’s what people don’t realize.”
Throne’s main campaign platform is ending what she refers to as the boom and bust cycle, funding programs when money from natural resources is good and “cutting everything to the bone” when prices go down.
“We’re in a perpetual cycle,” Throne said. “No one has been honest with the people of Wyoming. We’re facing a $200-300 million shortfall in the upcoming years. We need to find new economic opportunities. That’s not going to happen if we drastically cut government.”
Throne said her Republican opponent, Mark Gordon, hides behind slogans that sound appealing but will likely carry a distasteful surprise for Wyoming residents.
“He says things like ‘we have to live within our means,’” Throne said. “That gives you a good feeling but he’s not telling you what cuts he’s going to make to do that.”
Throne has a personal connection to Lovell, she said. Her father-in-law used to be a resident, generations ago, and resided in an old house that was located where the Western Sugar Cooperative office still stands.
“There’s a lot of untapped economic potential here,” Throne said. “I think the governor has to make sure all of our communities have the opportunity to succeed. Growth has to occur from the bottom up, of course, not from the top down, but the state can play a role.”
Throne said she plans to increase funding for small communities and supports efforts to expand broadband services to rural areas statewide.
“Having good broadband everywhere will allow of our small businesses to grow,” Throne said.
Throne recognized that President Trump carried Wyoming by a wide margin in 2016 and that her road might be uphill, but it’s important for voters to know that she’s not the kind of Democrat Wyoming voters would find in Washington or the Californian coast.
“Especially now, it’s all about following the party platform. No one tells me what to follow,” Throne said. “If my party told me what to do, they wouldn’t like my answer.”
Throne spent years as an attorney for energy companies and said she was fighting against federal overreach that would hamper growth in energy markets.
“I know firsthand that coal, oil and natural gas have been kind to our state,” Throne states on her website Maryforwyoming.com.
Or as she said in the Brandin’ Iron: “My family would disown me, my husband would divorce me, if I ever did anything against oil and coal in Wyoming. People from the coast don’t understand how close we are to the land. ”
Throne said people should vote for her because Wyoming just works better with a Democrat governor, which breaks up the groupthink of single-party control.
“It’s healthy to have a governor from a different party than the legislature,” Throne said. “It makes things more transparent. It creates more conversation.”
By Ryan Fitzmaurice