CASPER, Wyo. — Election season is underway and Oil City News has sent a list of questions to each candidate for the Casper City Council who has 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 Eric Paulson, who is running for a Ward II seat on the Casper City Council:
1. Who are you? (Name, where you’re from, employment, hobbies, etc.)
I would first like to thank you for reaching out to me. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about the issues I am running on for City Council. My name is Eric Paulson, and I am a 39-year-old single father. I own multiple small businesses in town ranging from rental properties, security, and drone photography. My hobbies cast me as a jack of all trades and include such activities as backpacking, hiking, hunting, shooting, dancing, movies, and my biggest passion — anything I can get my teenage daughter to do with me.
2. Why have you decided to run for office and what do you hope to accomplish should you be elected?
I decided to run after reaching out to the candidates in my district, the majority who support more spending. We are in a challenging economic time in America. The excessive spending and failure of our current council to reduce tax levies is almost criminal. When Americans are preparing for tougher economic times, it is of the upmost importance that our government be leading the charge in reducing spending. Also, that they are ensuring the quality of life not just the select few but for all those that live in our great city.
3. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals?
I plan to accomplish my goals by first reducing tax levies set by the city. I have attended several work sessions regarding property taxes and have met many people running for office in state and county positions who want this addressed as well. We need to set a cap rate based on the purchase price of a residential home so that retirees are not priced out of their homes due to a boom and bust economy.
4. What experience do you have that qualifies you for the office you are seeking?
First and foremost, I was raised by a Reaganite who passionately believed that politics is taught around the dinner table. I have been discussing free market, the constitution, and bipartisan politics since I was young enough to not have a highchair at the dinner table. I am also a philanthropist and volunteer with several organizations in our city such as Meals on Wheels and Big Brother of Wyoming. I am also a grassroots political activist with experience organizing local events for our community such as last year’s food drive for the freedom convoy and a “Support your local law enforcement rally” that I organized. I operate a local group that focuses on providing survival skills. We have an upcoming event in August hosted by Backcountry Doctors that will focus on trauma medicine and how to best care for our loved ones when emergency health services are not available.
5. Do you feel you could be a good steward with taxpayer dollars? Why or why not?
Regarding the stewardship of our community’s tax dollars, I can only attest to my own personal business savvy. I managed a dental office for over 12 years working with many different vendors, handling supplies, insurance, labor, accounting, and the many other minute details that are involved in running a medical office. The United States is headed into another depression, much like that of the late 1920s. Our country is facing huge increases in food and gas prices. One effective way to reduce inflation is to have our city tighten its belt and stop excessive spending. It is time our city starts leading the charge to manage this inflation.
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?
This is a personal pet peeve I have against the current policies of our city. We all live busy lives. We wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. to give ourselves an hour or two to get our children and ourselves ready for school and work. We make breakfast, shower, shave, and get dressed. We drop the kids off at school and work eight hours, get home from work around 5 or 6, cook dinner, clean, take care of children, which takes another two to three hours. We may get an hour or so in for a hobby.
Then we go to sleep and repeat. Most people do not have time to show up to a city council meeting. The fact that our council has limited its social media presence blows my mind. Comments are not even allowed on our city council meetings’ YouTube channel. Social media provides access for many to get involved in our local politics and should be embraced, not shunned. Our city should be running a more community-based approach with their social media. I am already in the process of polling big issues and addressing FAQs that often show up in these comments sections.
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?
Bruce Knell nailed it on the head a few weeks ago when he was talking about the amount of one-cent funding that went into reducing water prices for the city. He explained that if Casper residents knew how much of that one-cent funding saved on their water bill, he believed the vote would pass. Mr. Knell was 100% correct. What the current administration lacks is concise data for the people to make their own fair and balanced opinions. Councilmembers should provide more details of how funding is allocated to different groups in order to determine whether current funding should be increased, maintained, or reduced. I am passionate about the oversight and accountability of our government agencies.
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?
Expertise in a field or profession should be valued. I would be sure to ask clear, concise, and relevant questions of the people bringing up issues and/or proposals in order that we might all know what they want to accomplish as well as the constitutionality behind it. I have always been a fan of the saying “a boot salesman always thinks you need a new pair of boots.” This is a buyer-beware attitude that has not only served me well, but has allowed me to make more informed decisions. We live in the age of information; it is readily available at our fingertips. It would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
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?
Property taxes are a twofold problem. First, the State Legislature must pass legislation that simplifies calculating property values as well as preventing the State Board of Equalization’s involvement in manipulating data based on current property values. Property values should be based on the value at the time of purchase with a measured percentage capping to keep property taxes limited and affordable to residents.
Second, we need to stop increased spending. State Legislation should be passed to require reductions at state and local levels during hyperinflation or economic downturns to help property owners. City Council and County Commissioners must adjust their spending and reduce mill levies to help residents with property taxes. They are refusing to do this.
10. Is there anything the above questions didn’t ask that you would like to comment on?
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my answers. I look forward to being a representative for the hard-working people of Ward 2 and Casper. With your vote you will be electing a fiscally responsible and constitutionally focused candidate that will work with you personally on the issues we face in our city. I will champion the cause of a government of the people and for the people by providing accountability and better access to communicate with the city.
NOTE: All primary candidates who filed to run for the Casper City Council 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.