SHERIDAN — Two candidates for statewide office spoke during the Sheridan County Democrats’ convention Saturday afternoon.
Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, is finishing out his fifth term in the state House of Representatives and has announced he will not seek another term in order to run for secretary of state.
During Saturday’s convention, Byrd said he has experience working with the Secretary of State’s office from his time sitting on the Legislature’s Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee. One of the roles of the secretary of state is to oversee state elections, and Byrd said Wyoming does not need to make changes to how it conducts elections.
“Our elections division in the state of Wyoming is at the top of the game,” Byrd said.
“Other states come to us and ask us how to run elections.”
He added that in hearing testimony from the secretary of state as a member of the corporations committee for the last 10 years, he has only seen one case of voter fraud.
In addition, the secretary of state is responsible for recruiting new businesses to the state. Byrd said, if elected, he would target companies that would look to cleanly utilize Wyoming’s coal assets.
“Coal is one of those things that this state makes its money on, like it or not,” Byrd said. “I’m a scientist, you don’t have to preach to me about climate change…but we need to go out and find companies willing to come to Wyoming and research new ways to use our coal without burning it. We can create a lot more high-tech jobs in the post-processing of that coal into other products.”
Jeff Dockter is a Cheyenne Democrat making his first run for public office as a candidate for state auditor.
Dockter began his career working in the states’ Department of Family Services, where he was the program manager for the low-income energy assistance program and the weatherization program. He explained that his work in the public sector familiarized him with fiscal processes at the state level.
“I learned three important things in that job: the importance of auditing, importance of budgeting and importance of the role information technology plays in improving services and outcomes for Wyoming citizens,” Dockter said.
He expanded on his work with information technology, adding that he worked to expedite application procedures with technology while at DFS. That experience led him to take a job with Enterprise Technology Services, which is the state’s IT department, where he currently works.
Dockter said his work with IT and budgeting has prepared him to take on the role of state auditor.
“There’s $16.7 million in the budget for the day-to-day operations of the state auditor’s office; $11 million of that is in a budget category that supports information technology,” Dockter said.
As state auditor, Dockter said he would emphasize transparency by pushing to have Wyoming’s “checkbook” available online. He added that 47 states, as well as Converse County in Wyoming, offer digital finance reports.
He also said he would look to update processes for submitting applications for payments to the auditor’s office by moving away from paper applications to online and mobile applications.
• County Democrats voted to adopt an 82-plank platform with minor amendments. Mel Logan, chair of the county platform committee, said the platform was “almost identical” to the 2016 platform. Sheridan Democrats will bring their platform to the state Democratic convention, where it will be considered alongside platforms from other county Democratic parties for inclusion into the state-party platform. The Democratic state convention is scheduled for June 9 at the Central Wyoming College in Riverton.
• County Democrats also voted to send nine delegates to the state convention. Sheridan County is allowed to send a total of 17 delegates. County Chair Hollis Hackman said he could appoint additional delegates and alternates per county bylaws and urged any registered Democrats in Sheridan County who are interested in attending the state convention to contact him.