CASPER, Wyo. — Margaret Bloom decided to run for a Ward I seat on the Casper City Council after tuning into recent council meetings and perceiving “a disconnect between council members and the people calling in.”
“I observed a lack of interest in listening to the views of the callers,” Bloom said in a Monday, July 20 email to Oil City. “Our community deserves better.”
The Ward I candidate said that she was raised in Casper and has been running a business here for the last 15 years.
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“Within those years have been tough economies, the hurdles of regulations, and the hunger to thrive,” Bloom said. “This has required tough decisions and tight budgeting. On a daily basis, I am required to listen to my employees and customers and work with them to establish both short term and long term resolutions.”
“We need people on the city council who are willing to listen and seriously weigh the information provided from those in the community that are directly affected by the city council’s decisions.”
Bloom said that she would like to see less government involvement in Casper.
“Casperites should be encouraged to dream and develop,” she added. “Additional taxes, fees, ordinances are not necessary. I fear that we have been heading down a path of more fees and more ordinances; which will only suffocate the life-force of our community – the people. Let the private sector flourish.”
Bloom says that in reviewing the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget document online, she found that “it appears that notable cuts have been made.”
“I appreciate that worker’s comp insurance for city council members will not be an expenditure for 2021,” she said. “One item that was a red flag, for me, was that the City Manager’s office has three employees and a payroll budget of $543,927.”
The $543,927 for the City Manager’s office personnel services projected under the budget is a 10% reduction from fiscal year 2020.
“As all city employees are being faced with mandatory furloughs, perhaps that line item could be looked at,” Bloom said. “Another possible budget option might be foregoing big ticket replacements and repairs in exchange for general maintenance (i.e. fixing potholes rather than replacing roads).”
“Not all projects are imperative. Some can wait. It is my understanding that there is a ‘rainy day fund’ that could also assist in meeting payroll.”
Bloom questioned the city’s past decision to purchase “buildings and lots downtown.” The city purchased the former Plains Furniture building and surrounding properties in 2012 for about $3 million. The city council voted in Nov. 2019 to sell some of those properties to FLAG Development for $500,000.
“Selling those properties to entities that were not the highest bidder left a bad taste in the mouths of those paying attention,” Bloom said.
While the city council faced criticism from some for selling the properties at a price lower than their appraised value, FLAG Development submitted the higher overall bid during the city’s first round of requests for proposal (RFP) to develop the properties and submitted the only bid during the second round of RFPs after the city council rejected both Ashby Construction and FLAG Development’s bids during the first round.
Bloom said that one of the things she thinks makes Casper “a great town” is relatively low taxes.
“We enjoy no income taxes,” she said. “Our sales taxes are comparable to or lower than our neighbors. We enjoy economic opportunities of a wide spectrum. We are moving toward a greater appreciation of recycling and energy alternatives, while continuing to respect what oil and coal do for our community.”
“Any opportunity the city government has to step back and let private enterprise and individuals decide what is best for them should be taken. If city-run businesses are unable to financially maintain themselves, they should be re-evaluated.”
She said one area which she thinks needs some improvement is “the follow through of justice.”
“There seems to be a frustration that the jail roster shows the same names, over and over,” Bloom said. “There seems to be a frustration that there is no real accountability beyond an arrest. This may also be construed as a lack of support for front line officers from their leaders.”
“Throughout the years, I have found that, as a victim of crime, interaction with law enforcement ends at the initial contact. It is frustrating to live in a community that will arrest an individual for distribution of meth, but see that individual at the grocery store six months later. In June, a gentleman was arrested during a traffic-related incident with 16 prior DUIs. In September, a juvenile shot another young man, with no apparent consequence. It would appear that the responsibility for community safety falls upon law enforcement, yet becomes impotent past the initial arrest.”
Bloom said she was happy to see the city council amend the new unsafe structures ordinance, which aims to provide protections for people renting properties which may be unsafe or unsanitary. That ordinance was amended prior to final adoption such that the rules would not apply to owner occupied residences, but only to renter-tenant situations.
“I like that the safe structure ordinance was amended to disclude private homes,” Bloom said. “I appreciate that Code Enforcement may not enter a home without an invitation or warrant. While I appreciate the desire for safety, I maintain a hesitance to allow government free reign over private property.”
Bloom concluded saying that she’d like to see the community get involved with what is going on with the city.
“I would like to encourage our entire community to participate in local-level politics,” she said. “The preservation of individual liberties is imperative and begins at the local level. Regardless of election outcomes, I encourage Casperites to stay informed and involved.”
Candidates chosen to serve on the Casper City Council are elected to four year terms. Bloom 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.