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Natrona County Assessor, House District candidates kick off Politics in the Park forum

Assessor Candidate Tim Haid at Politics in the Park on June 15, 2022. (Gregory Hirst/Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Candidates for Natrona County Assessor and two state House seats kicked off the summer-long Politics in the Park series Wednesday at Washington Park. All candidates had a chance to address the issue of rising property taxes, while House candidates also weighed in on the state fiscal issues, energy prospects and relationship to the federal government.

The event, hosted by the Natrona County Republican Women, will take place every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. throughout the summer.

Tim Haid and Matt Keating at Politics in the Park on June 15, 2022. (Gregory Hirst/Oil City)

Matt Keating, the incumbent Natrona County Assessor, has two challengers. One is Tim Haid, a landscape company owner and former Natrona County Treasurer’s Office employee. He is offering a 10-year-average approach to calculating property tax assessments. 

The other challenger is Tammy Saulsbury, who said she had worked in the Assessor’s Office for 13 years, serving as interim assessor for seven months before losing a close race to Keating in the 2018 election. She promoted major restratification of the county’s Land Economic Areas and more precision in grouping similar homes to provide fairer and more uniform assessments.

Keating reiterated his position that the state Department of Revenue has supported his overhaul of the office, and read from a recent decision that stated he had applied the Mass Appraisal Process properly, though the county commission that remanded the decision felt the particular value was unfair.

Tammy Saulsbury, assessor candidate, at Politics in the Park on June 15, 2022. (Gregory Hirst/Oil City)

House District 59 candidate John Gudger, a career architect and project manager, is challenging incumbent Kevin O’Hearn, who was elected shortly after the Natrona County Commission appointed him to the seat in 2020. O’Hearn was not able to attend due to a family emergency, Natrona County GOP state committeewoman Kim Walker announced.

Former Natrona County Commissioner Forrest Chadwick and career geologist Stan Mitchum are competing for the new House District 62 seat created by the redraw of district boundaries finalized earlier this year. 

House candidates were asked to weigh in on the state’s bid to host a hydrogen hub, whether the state should incentivize a large-scale meat processing plant, and how the state can support mineral production in light of the Interior Department’s clampdown on federal mineral leases.

Assessor candidates Tim Haid, Matt Keating, and Tammy Saulsbury. (Gregory Hirst/Oil City News)

Gudger said there is more authority for states like Wyoming to access mineral baked into the U.S. Constitution than the current legislator appreciated, and he would leverage that authority for the state. Chadwick, who served as chair of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association’s Agriculture, Water and Public Resources Committee, was more reserved about the state’s prospects to gain control of mineral rights through existing policy.

Mitchum said the state’s attorney general might be the position most likely to affect federal policy, and that the position should be one that is elected, rather than appointed.

House District 62 candidate Forrest Chadwick. (Gregory Hirst/Oil City)

All candidates agreed that the state’s biggest spending item, the education system, spent more money per student than any other state, and is in need of some level of reform in areas like administration structure and capital expense.

Tim Haid (Gregory Hirst/Oil CIty)