Wyoming’s 32nd governor, Matt Mead, was in Sheridan Wednesday, outlining his re-election campaign, celebrating education at Sheridan College, cheering art at The Brinton Museum and found time to stop by Kraft’s Jewelry as they celebrated their 50th anniversary in business. (Wonder if bought something for First Lady Carol Mead, who was also in Sheridan at Holy Name School, at the Fulmer Public Library and later at The Brinton Museum?)
Mead noted that as governor he’s in constant contact with entrepreneurs who want to relocate to Wyoming because of its business-friendly climate. The one question he receives often is about workforce and if it is educated to meet the economic challenges ahead. Wyoming’s per-pupil spending is usually ranked first or second nationally but its test scores and other scorekeeping isn’t consistent with the spending. Mead noted, too, while speaking at Sheridan College’s Edward A. Whitney Academic Center, that Sheridan College’s expansion and improvements in facilities and curriculum will serve Wyoming’s workforce. He complimented the college’s president, Dr. Paul Young, on his leadership and how he’s been a “great advocate for Sheridan College.”
Mead’s casual lunch talk to local business and education leaders was presented by Whitney Benefits. He cited how in Wyoming private business and local foundations routinely take the lead in establishing local education leadership and “get things done” without having to rely on government.
In an expansive interview with The Sheridan Press following the lunch talk at SC, Gov. Mead elaborated more on what’s ahead as he faces two primary challengers, Taylor Haynes and Cindy Hill, come August.
Gov. Mead said he will explain to voters how his administration has helped lead Wyoming to lower unemployment figures, a better financial condition that what he inherited four years ago and how the Affordable Care Act’s approach doesn’t fit for Wyoming. “I’m am confident Wyoming can figure out what’s best for our citizens,” Mead, a native of Jackson, added.
He lauded the “connectivity” efforts going on between local business people, the proposal to build a fiber optic line between Cheyenne and Billings. He demurred reporter Hannah Wiest’s question regarding how the project involves city officials or those seeking local or state office. (The Sheridan Press, April 22.) “I’m not going to get into local politics.”
Mead as governor has pivoted from being a federal prosecutor, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001, to being governor and with that, a champion for Wyoming energy — particularly coal. He cited how Wyoming coal has the strongest environmental regulations with its extraction and its mining industry one of the most stringent in safety regulations. If Wyoming were a country, it would be ranked number 10 in the world in energy production and number three for energy exports. He’s going to be proactive in the push to get Wyoming into more global markets, but says there needs to be a greater “pull” from potential foreign customers, particularly those in Asia.
Gov. Mead is the grandson of Sen. Cliff Hansen, who was Wyoming’s 26th governor (1963-1967) and a two-term U.S. senator, 1967-1978. Sen. Hansen died in 2009 after a distinguished career in public service. I asked him what his grandfather would make of the hyper-partisanship that paralyzes Washington. It’s hard to imagine Sen. Hansen reciting Dr. Seuss in protest in the Senate chamber.
“He would be disappointed,” Mead replied. “He was strongly conservative. It was about the debate, the issues and working with others. Those attributes served him and Wyoming well.” He also noted that his grandfather was able to help Wyoming increase federal monies into the state by more than 18 percent.
“You don’t want to be the guy,” Mead said his grandfather told him, “that is often wrong and never in doubt.”