The final days of the filing period for August’s primary election brought an influx of candidates — and at least one big twist.
Races for mayor of Powell and the Powell City Council heated up, with several contenders signing up on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It means that, in a change from recent elections, voters will have multiple options when they choose three council members and a mayor this year.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Scott Court, R-Cody, shook up the local political scene on Friday by announcing that he will not be seeking reelection to the state House and will instead run for the Park County Commission. Court joins nearly a dozen Republicans who are seeking three available seats on the county board; the contenders range from an incumbent to an 89-year-old retired attorney to a Tea Party activist.
There’s no shortage of candidates to replace Court in the state House, either: By the time the freshman legislator declared his intent to make a bid for the commission, three Republicans and one Democrat had already signed up to run against him in House District 24.
Despite the many late filings, more than half of the available positions across local legislative races and within the Powell, Cody, Meeteetse and Park County governments drew one or zero candidates.
August’s primary election ballot will be particularly sparse for local Democrats. Within the county, there are 16 partisan positions up for election, and Democrats are running for just three of those offices.
A total of 11 Republicans have lined up to run for three seats up for grabs on the Park County Commission. Incumbent Commissioner Joe Tilden is seeking a third term on the board, while 10 others are looking to join or replace him. They’re listed below by the dates they filed:
Unless a Democratic candidate is written in on the Aug. 21 primary ballot, or an independent candidate makes a run for the commission, the three top vote-getting Republicans will be unopposed in the general election in November.
Meanwhile, there was little interest in the county’s seven other offices. The Republicans now sitting in those posts — Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric, Sheriff Scott Steward, Assessor Pat Meyer, Clerk Colleen Renner, Clerk of District Court Patra Lindenthal, Treasurer Barb Poley and Coroner Tim Power — are running for re-election with no opposition.
Among local legislative races, only one incumbent lawmaker, state Sen. Ray Peterson, R-Cowley, will face a primary election challenge. He’s being opposed by fellow Republican R.J. Kost of Powell, a longtime educator.
Over in House District 24 — which represents the western part of Cody, Wapiti, the North and South Forks and the northern part of Yellowstone — four people are running to replace Rep. Court; it’s one of the most crowded fields in Wyoming’s 75 Legislative races.
Sandy Newsome of Cody, Denise Shirley of Wapiti and Richard Jones of Cody will face off in a three-way Republican primary, with the winner likely competing with Cody Democrat Paul Fees in the general election. Both Newsome and Fees ran for the office two years ago.
Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, drew no opponents in House District 25, which is made up of the Powell area. Rep. Jamie Flitner, R-Greybull, is similarly unopposed in House District 26, which includes Garland, Frannie and Deaver and northern Big Horn County.
Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, will see no opposition in the primary election, but he’s set to face Clark Democrat Mike Specht in the general election in a rematch from 2016. That district, HD 50, includes the eastern part of Cody, Ralston, Sunlight, Crandall, the Willwood and Clark.
In House District 28 — a district that stretches from Meeteetse all the way down to Shoshoni — state Rep. Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis, is leaving the Legislature to run for state auditor.
Three people are seeking to replace him: Republican Tim Morrison of Meeteetse, Republican John Winter of Thermopolis and Democrat Howie Samelson of Thermopolis.
City of Powell
Powell Mayor John Wetzel is seeking to finish out the term of the late Don Hillman — and so is Ryan Miller, who declared his candidacy on Friday afternoon.
Miller, who owns Dick Jones Trucking, and Wetzel, the general manager of the Buyer’s Guide, will compete for votes in the primary election. However, that will be something of a dry run, as both candidates will advance to the general election.
When Ward I Councilman Eric Paul announced he was leaving the council at the end of the year, no one immediately jumped at the chance to fill his seat. But two men — Ernest Phipps and Steven Lensegrav — filed for the office on Friday’s final day.
Meanwhile, incumbent Councilman Scott Mangold has drawn a challenge in Ward II from Michael Newton and Councilman Tim Sapp is being opposed by Tawnya Peterson in Ward III.
The council races all appear headed toward general election showdowns.