SHERIDAN — Sheridan County resident Gail Symons recently announced she would run as a Republican for State House District Seat 30, currently held by Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan.
As of Monday morning, Jennings has not announced whether or not he will seek re-election. Symons ran for the seat in 2016 and lost to Jennings in the Republican primary that year. She said when she ran last time, she had recently moved back to the state and was still working full time.
“I thought it was a little early, but I also thought it is important that we have competition in our races,” Symons said. “Even though I was still working and trying to transition, I went ahead and declared. And I was determined to win, but I didn’t have the time to go to all of the doors, which I think is critical.”
Symons said, though she lost, she felt her candidacy inspired a productive debate in the primary that year. She is now retired and said she will be able to dedicate all of her time to her campaign this time around.
Since the last election, Symons has stayed involved with politics, at least as an observer. She created a blog, Civics 307, which she said was intended to help people understand the legislative processes in the state. During the most recent budget session, Symons registered as a lobbyist and updated the blog daily with updates on the session.
“Like anything when you want to give people an opportunity to learn, you end up learning more yourself,” Symons said. “So it’s been a tremendous education.”
Symons said she did not think the most recent budget session focused enough on solving the state’s budget problems.
“I’m concerned that we came out with a higher deficit than we went in with,” Symons said. “We went the wrong way.”
Symons pushed back against a comment made by Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Natrona, ahead of the vote on the budget bill. According to Symons, Gray announced that a vote for the proposed budget would be a vote for new taxes down the road.
“That is just absolutely wrong,” Symons said. “We have a constitutional requirement to balance the budget. At the very end of [the budget session], if you really have to vote no, then I’m going to look to see if you’ve done anything to make that budget better. And if you haven’t, then shame on you. Voting no on the budget is not a solution.”
She added that, with the problems the state is facing, politicians will need to look comprehensive, detailed solutions instead of taking broad stances.
“If we have a structural deficit, the problem identification is easy: we need to have increased revenues, and we have to have decreased costs,” Symons said. “That’s an easy problem statement. But addressing it is tough. And it’s going to take experience, it’s going to take a willingness to compromise, and willingness to engage everyone, and a willingness to listen to everyone and reach out.
Symons will host a public announcement party Wednesday at the Best Western Sheridan Center.