Halverson, Winney square off for HD 22
GOP candidate says Star Valley alone will carry her to state House.
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
September 26, 2012
Marti Halverson has been campaigning in House District 22 since March.
She has pumped $30,000 of her own money into the campaign and raised thousands of dollars in donations.
Halverson, retired from a job with a medical equipment manufacturer, is “confident” she has enough support among Star Valley voters to win her first term in the Wyoming House. The district is drawn in such a way that “it’s not a contest,” she said.
“Even if I never step foot in Teton County or Sublette County, the votes are here in Star Valley,” the Etna Republican said in an interview last week.
Despite having the votes she needs close to home, she said she would represent residents of the entire district.
Her opponent, Bill Winney, has put $10,000 of his own money into his campaign and is pounding the pavement across the district.
The Bondurant resident and retired naval officer won a spot on the general election ballot as an independent candidate by collecting hundreds of signatures from voters in District 22.
“While I was collecting signatures, I only ran into three people who said they support the Republican candidate,” Winney said during an interview last week. “I don’t think she has the votes.”
Halverson might have solid support in Star Valley, he said, but there are plenty of other areas in the district to pick up votes.
House District 22 stretches from the southern portion of Teton County to Lincoln County. It also contains a small piece of Sublette County.
The district, which was redrawn this year, has been held by Democratic Rep. Jim Roscoe since 2008. Roscoe stepped down this year after botching his filing papers.
Halverson announced her candidacy even before Roscoe said he wouldn’t seek a third term in office.
Winney didn’t decide to run until he heard Halverson speak at a candidates forum in Pinedale.
“She talked in platitudes,” he said. “Smaller government, lower taxes. ... I’m just thinking, ‘Come on.’”
Both candidates named the state’s economy and budget as the most pressing issue. Gov. Matt Mead asked state officials earlier this year to prepare proposals for 8 percent cuts.
Winney said lawmakers should make sure state agencies are spending only what they need.
“How are you going to control your agencies so they don’t think they have to spend all of the money allocated?” Winney said.
He supports efforts to attract new businesses to Wyoming. Legislators also should look at ways to make sure workers in the state are treated the same as those in neighboring states, he said.
Winney advocates reforming the state’s testing program for schoolchildren “so it’s functional and so it actually makes a difference at that school, that year.”
He supports state efforts to promote use of natural gas in vehicles, though he said private companies have to get involved at some point. He said state lawmakers should focus on building infrastructure to encourage use of natural gas.
When reviewing proposals to develop energy, Winney said, state officials should require a baseline assessment of a site. That would help regulators monitor whether something is going wrong at a drilling site.
To improve health care in Wyoming, he suggested that the state join with others to create a bigger insurance pool and spread the risk.
Rather than expand Medicaid services, Winney would prefer to leave the program as it is and focus on putting in place private insurance services.
“Private companies will sharpen their pencils,” he said. “The government doesn’t have to do that.”
To combat rising health-care costs, Winney said, state legislators should put more focus on preventive care and services to maintain residents’ health.
Halverson said state legislators should be able to find money in one part of state government to pay for increases elsewhere, she said.
She opposes federal health care reform, saying it ignores the cost of providing medical care. Lawmakers should review tort reform to weed out frivolous and unnecessary lawsuits against physicians and medical providers, she said.
Anyone who files a malpractice lawsuit should have to go through a medical review panel, she said, and state officials shouldn’t offer settlements so easily.
State officials also could rein in health care costs by allowing residents to buy insurance from companies outside Wyoming, she said.
Halverson supports the use of natural gas in vehicles but said she needs more assurance that the supply of natural gas is reliable and won’t be jeopardized by lawsuits.
She supports energy exploration in every part of the state, except within national parks. Reclamation efforts have come so far that there shouldn’t be any areas that are taken off the table.
“There should be no place in Wyoming that should be off limits to exploration,” she said.
She would, though, require a review before developing any new areas.