CASPER, Wyo. — Casper City Councilman Ken Bates says his first term on the city council so far “has been awesome” and that he plans to seek re-election to continue representing Ward II.
” Yes, I am running again,” Bates said in an email to Oil City. “I have no motives or agendas. I know Casper moms do.”
“They would like to see an indoor playground for the winter months and I would like to see that accomplished by the city for them. Families and utilizing our outdoors has always been a big priority for me and I plan on making it a priority again if I am reelected. Fiscal responsibility and taking care of our employees is also very important. Making sure that our liberties and freedoms are not removed or overrun is also something to keep in mind.”
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Bates adds that he finds it important to keep those with lower income in mind when making decisions.
“I would like to believe that I help council remember the entirety of the community, including the lower income portion,” he said. “It is easy to forget those who struggle to make ends meet each day or month and I try to keep them in mind when we discuss new ordinances or increases in fees.”
Bates says that highlights of his time on the council so far include the city providing $500 bonuses to part-time employees in 2019 and the council authorizing the city to join the state’s health insurance pool.
“It will help so many families,” he said.
Bates added that interactions with the public and the city’s first responders have also stood out for him.
“A favorite moment for me was when I used my council money to sponsor a free swim at PV Pool and the fire department volunteered to come cook up some hot dogs I bought,” he said. “Their fire truck that is a grill is really cool, and our first responders love to show it off in the summer.”
“Meeting up with those who had endured a loss like a house fire or a car crashing into their home was humbling. I really enjoy the opportunity to help others.”
Bates says that he expects Casper to experience negative effects from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“I believe the community will be hurting for a time,” he said. “But…the heart of Casper, it’s core, who are the long-term citizens will support Casper where it’s needed the most. All that will be needed is to ask. They are proving that every day.”
Bates says the city needs to stay focused on educating the public about COVID-19 precautions and find ways to help families and businesses “cope with any type of losses.”
“My vision for Casper is a community that is great for everyone from kids, teens, and single adults to families and older adults,” he adds. “Families are priorities though as they’re the core of society, whether that family is traditional or a close group of friends who consider themselves family. We are a community that gives to each other.”
He thinks the city has been doing a good job of investing in the parks and recreation.
“The addition of the new dog park on the east side of town is going to be great,” Bates continued. “We need another dog park on the west side of town. A lot of families have been asking for an indoor park for kids in the winter and wetter months, and we could use a few more restaurants on the west side of town.”
“A place for our college students who are underage to hang out and relax would be good, an environment that is alcohol free. The Girl Scouts asked us to consider making Hogadon a year round recreational area, and I think this is something we should seriously consider.”
Bates says that the city council benefits from community input.
“We will need businesses and others to reach out to those who are in need and open opportunities for them,” he says. “We need citizens to reach out to us with ideas and let us know what you’re wanting. Hearing from people after the fact is difficult, but still good.”
“Something I found helpful when I joined council was taking the time to tour every department in the city and get an up front and in person view of what all goes into making the city function. It really helped when looking at the budget, to understand what each department was asking for and why. Being on council is not about me, it’s about the citizens of Casper and those who come to Casper. You need to be willing to give of your time (responding to e-mails, phone calls, and letters in addition to council meetings, work sessions, and board meetings).”
While he has enjoyed his time on the council so far, Bates notes that he doesn’t always agree with fellow members.
“It can be very frustrating when a compromise cannot be reached or when you feel your viewpoint or concern is not being heard or recognized,” Bates explains.
While that can be frustrating, Bates says he has learned something from each of his fellow council members. He says the lessons each member has taught him are as follows:
- Mayor Steve Freel: “passion as a council member”
- Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz: “everything is perspective”
- Councilman Charlie Powell: “stay calm and focus in tough situations”
- Councilman Bob Hopkins: “diversity is okay”
- Councilman Mike Huber: “you don’t need to have the answer to every situation”
- Councilman Ray Pacheco: “compassion”
- Councilman Shawn Johnson: “staying consistent if you believe in your vote choice”
- Councilman Steve Cathey: “pay attention to the detail in the [council’s work] packets”
Bates has advice for anyone else interested in running for a council seat.
“Remember it is not what you want but what the Casper citizens want,” he says. “Listen to them. We are there to represent them, not ourselves.”
There is one aspect fundamental to the Casper City Council which Bates says may need some rethinking.
“Many people have asked for council to share their political party affiliation and their personal opinions on their party’s platform,” he says. “I think this is something worth considering. While the position of city council is non-partisan, where a person stands on different platforms can be a huge influencer on regular decisions that city council makes.”
Candidates chosen to serve on the Casper City Council are elected to four year terms. Bates is running for one of two seats available in Ward II. Candidates for the contests in each of Casper’s three wards are as follows (links to Oil City’s coverage of each of the candidates will be added as we complete those):
- Ward I (Two seats available)
- Ward II (Two seats available)
- Ward III (one seat available)
NOTE: Oil City has reached out to all city council candidates via email. We will provide profiles of each of the candidates in the order that we receive their responses.