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Candidate Questionnaire: Debra Cheatham for House District 36

Debra Cheathem is running for the House District 36 seat in the Wyoming Legislature. (Courtesy Debra Cheatham)

CASPER, Wyo. — Election season is underway and Oil City News has sent a list of questions to candidates for the Wyoming Legislature out of Natrona County who have filed to run in the primary election in August.

These questions are designed to give our readers a better understanding of the people behind the names on the ballot. Below, get to know Debra Cheatham, who is running for the House District 36 seat in the Wyoming Legislature:

1. Who are you? (Name, where you’re from, employment, hobbies, etc.)

My name is Debra Cheatham. I am running for House District 36 as a traditional Republican.I grew up in Casper and graduated from Natrona County High School. I attended the University of Wyoming and earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree. During breaks in law school, I worked for a local brokerage firm in its municipal finance department.I was the town attorney/prosecutor for the Town of Evansville for several years. Following that appointment, I went to work for the State of Wyoming as an administrative hearing officer. I retired from that position after twenty five years of service.

2. Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?

I decided to run for office because I want to see the legislature following the requirements of the Wyoming Constitution.  I also decided to run to be a voice for the part of our community that does not currently have a voice in our legislature. Specifically, the Wyoming Constitution contains a provision which gives competent adults the right to make decisions  regarding their healthcare. (Article 1, Section 38). Although a majority of Wyoming citizens support the legalization of medical cannabis, our legislature has denied our citizens this healthcare option. I will advocate for the legalization of medical cannabis.

3. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?

 The same way I accomplished the goals of other organizations I have worked with in the past. I will work with other members of the body.

4. What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?

While I do not yet have experience in the legislature,  I have volunteered for a number of organizations which required working collaboratively with groups of individuals. I served on the City of Casper’s Civil Service Commission. I was a member and board president of the Montessori School of Casper. I was a member and board president of the Casper League of Women Voters. I was a member of the board of the Self Help Center and I was the board secretary of the Wyoming Blues and Jazz Society. I currently serve on the community advisory committee of a local health clinic and am a member of Eagles Auxiliary 306 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

5. Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?

I am a traditional Republican and as such I believe in true fiscal responsibility which takes into account the needs of Wyoming families. As a traditional Republican, I believe that no money is the government’s money-it is the taxpayers’ money. In accordance with these traditional Republican values, I would be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars.

6. On the issue of transparency, where do you stand on ensuring all public business is conducted openly and in a manner that encourages public attendance?

I believe in openness and transparency in government. I believe so strongly in government transparency that in 2015 I successfully sued the City of Casper, at my own expense, for violating the State’s open meetings law. 

7. Do you believe the office or board position you seek has been open and honest with the public? If yes, how can the entity remain open and transparent when conducting public business moving forward. If no, what changes would you implement to ensure that all future dealings are open and transparent?  

I do not believe the House of Representatives is being as transparent as possible. The Wyoming Constitution requires budget bills to contain only appropriation numbers. (Article 3,Section 34) For decades the legislature has ignored this provision by including substantive changes to unrelated statutes in the budget bill. This also violates the single subject requirement for bills in the Wyoming Constitution. (Article 3, Section 24) This practice makes the  legislative process very opaque.  I will work to make the budget and legislative processes more transparent by following the requirements of the Wyoming Constitution. 

8. If you were presiding over a meeting and a topic was being discussed that you didn’t fully understand, would you ask for a more detailed explanation during the meeting or would you seek the information after the meeting?

In my volunteer positions, if I felt I needed further information on a particular topic being discussed in the meeting, I asked questions during the meeting. I also sought to further educate myself on the topic between meetings.  

9. Should you be elected, or reelected, do you plan on seeking any major policy changes in your chosen office? If yes, what would those changes be? If no, why not?

As stated above, I would work to make the budget bills conform to the requirements of the Wyoming Constitution and work for the legalization of medical cannabis.

10. Is there anything the above questions didn’t ask that you would like to comment on? 

NOTE: All primary candidates who filed to run for a seat in the Wyoming Legislature were sent questionnaires at the same time and Oil City News will publish responses in the order they are received. Candidate responses are only edited for clarity and style.

If you are a candidate and did not see the questionnaire in your inbox, please email news@oilcity.news. Oil City News sent questionnaires to Natrona County candidates running in the primary for municipal, county office or a seat in the Wyoming Legislature based on email addresses shared by the Natrona County Clerk’s Office; if you would prefer the questionnaire sent to a different address, please let us know.