SHERIDAN — U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Hardy, who is running as a Democrat in the upcoming election against Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., visited Sheridan this week to discuss how he hopes to address suffering as Wyoming’s next senator.
The Cheyenne native launched his bid for the U.S. Senate seat in mid-January.
Two years ago, Hardy tried to get on the ballot as an Independent but came a little short of the needed signatures. However, he said he has been a Democrat all his life like his parents who immigrated to Wyoming from Austria to try to farm a piece of land north of Cheyenne.
“I think my first words were, ‘Mommy, Daddy, Eminent Domain,’ because the land was taken away by a government action, and a Republican senator was involved in that, and as a result my parents became very much supportive of the Democratic Party,” Hardy said.
Ultimately, Hardy said he identifies with the platform of the Democratic Party and its commitment to addressing human suffering.
“When you look at the platforms of the two parties in the state of Wyoming, I really think most people in Wyoming would identify more with the Democratic platform than with the Republican platform,” Hardy said.
Hardy has not served in political office but said his lack of political experience is outweighed by his years of experience in serving people. He worked for 19 years as a Catholic priest and educator in Wyoming and was also Superintendent of Wyoming Catholic Schools. From 1985 to 1993, Hardy served as a Catholic missionary in poverty-stricken areas in Venezuela.
“I heard of a group of indigenous people in Latin America who defined a leader as, ‘The one who listens.’ Sometimes when people ask me why I feel qualified to run, I say, ‘Because my hearing’s good and my eyesight is good,’” Hardy said.
Hardy said he sees a lot of suffering in Wyoming that he would address in Washington. His key concerns include:
• Poverty: Even though Wyoming’s average salary is approximately $48,000 and unemployment is 4.2 percent, many people are working two or three minimum wage jobs and just scraping by, Hardy said.
Hardy is a strong proponent of raising the minimum wage. He did not give a specific figure, but he believes raising the minimum wage will help lift people out of poverty. He said that he is not concerned that raising the minimum wage will cause product prices to increase or jobs to be lost due to businesses being unable to support the higher wages since no one has ever proven to him that has happened in the past. He said if people are making more money, increased product prices will not matter.
• Health care: Hardy said no one should be worried about getting sick and that health care is an inalienable right. He would like to reform Medicare to include provision of eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures at little cost to senior citizens.
• Education: While Hardy is pro-military, he is very anti-war, he said. He would like to see the G.I. Bill strengthened to provide a full college education to people who serve in the military, as well as Peace Corps and AmeriCorps workers. He believes college should be as free as possible.
Hardy said that one area that could be addressed to pay for programs supporting education and health care is military spending. He would like to see more military spending to support education and less to support military bases in 150 countries.
• Infrastructure: Hardy said he supports repairing old infrastructure and building new infrastructure because roads, bridges and water systems are at the foundation of everyday life. He also said working on America’s infrastructure would provide more jobs for Americans in need.
As for his opponent, Hardy said he feels like Enzi is concerned about issues, like the national debt, that won’t immediately impact life for Wyoming citizens. He also said he feels like it is time for a change after 18 years.
While in Sheridan, Hardy met with local members of the Democratic Party at the Senior Center, visited the Sheridan Veterans Affairs Medical Center and went to services at Holy Name Catholic Church.
When asked how he would address issues specific to Sheridan County, he said he hadn’t yet had time to digest specific issues and did not want to discuss specific issues at this time.
“I cannot say I’m an expert on the concerns of people in Sheridan. I want to listen, though,” Hardy said.