SHERIDAN — Born and raised in Sheridan County, Cyrus Western recognizes the needs of his community. Recognizing the need for a representative for younger Wyomingites in the state legislature, Western stepped up to run for office.
In 2018, he earned a spot as a representative for House District 51.
Western said he believes that leadership is demonstrated, not announced, so by participating in the Wyoming Legislature, he felt he could really dig into the issues of the people of Sheridan County. One of them was helping write legislation to bring a natural gas pipeline to the Tongue River Valley.
The young legislator recognized early that the structure of the legislature helps bring the best ideas to the front for the group of politicians to discuss and decipher the best route for their constituents. Western also realized that the position was a lot of work. On his “minor bill in the eyes of the legislature,” Western worked diligently to craft a valid argument for the necessity of a natural gas pipeline into the Tongue River Valley, which passed through with a vote of 27-3.
“It was a big deal for me,” Western said.
Western faced setbacks that included being looked down on because of his youth on the campaign trail and a bit while in Cheyenne, but he did not allow that to hold him back from trying to enact change.
“If you only focus on the negative things, you’re never going to do anything,” Western said.
The first year of his term challenged and motivated him to push harder and work diligently for his constituents in the next year. None of it could be accomplished without a true desire for the job. For others looking to follow in his footsteps as a young politician, Western had a few pieces of advice.
“First you gotta have that passion, both for the policy but also for the process and everything else that comes with being in an elected office,” Western said. “There are days where you’re tired or something’s not going right in your day or you’re in a sour mood, but when you see someone, you gotta be able to still put a smile on your face.”
Exposing himself to the inner workings of the legislature also helped him integrate fairly seamlessly from the start. In any business, Western believes, this is true.
Outside of his suit-and-tie self, Western boasts a healthy outdoor lifestyle of hunting and fishing like many Wyoming-raised residents. Western grew up riding his bicycle around town and finding things to keep him entertained. That has translated in his adult life to still finding things to do in the outdoors.
“A lot of who I am is shaped in the environment I grew up in,” Western said. “And that was growing up right here.”
Bowhunting and outdoor recreation hold a special place in his personal life, which sometimes means a challenge finding time outside of a busy legislator’s schedule.
“Everyone has their own style, but I think part of it is learning how to say no,” Western said. “As an elected official, you are in that job to please your constituents, so people in that career — by and large — are people who want to say yes, who want to help, who want to please their constituents.
“Learning to be selective and learning to say…no…is tough. It’s not easy, but I think it’s a key to being (successful).”