Ray Pacheco is seeking re-election to a Ward III seat on the Casper City Council. (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

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 Ray Pacheco, who is running for reelection to a Ward III seat on the Casper City Council:

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

Name: Ray Pacheco

Employment: Natrona Collective Health Trust Sr. Director of Programs and Community Engagement

Hobbies: Hiking, fishing, reading, spending time with family. 

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

I want to continue the work that has been done the last several years on City Council. Continued work on economic development (keeping our young people here), working on shoring up and funding our aging infrastructure including our water systems, streets and aging buildings. Also, every year for the last seven years we have had a balanced budget, we need to continue to be vigilant about spending and being fiscally responsible. There is a myriad of issues (good and bad) that affect our community, it’s important we are taking the time to pragmatically look at each of them. We need a steady voice and a person who is willing to see all sides of these issues, someone who listens and makes informed decisions based on facts and research. I have a strong history of making levelheaded decisions and working together to do what’s in the best interest of our community.

3. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals? 

It will be vital for whoever gets elected to be able to work together as a group to achieve any goals. While there will be times you will vehemently disagree with others on council, it’s important to understand the only way to get things accomplished is to be able to see all sides of an issue, do your homework and have open dialogue with your peers on the council. As a person who has served for seven-plus years I understand the work needed to be done to make the best decisions for the community. Listening to constituents, having open and frank conversations with both the city staff and council, is critical. This kind of work will continue if I am elected. I certainly have had my share of losses on many issues, but know I the importance of working together for the best interest of the community to get things done. 

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

I have served on the council for seven-plus years for two terms. I have learned a great deal while being on council. In that time I have a greater understanding of the time, research, dedication and commitment needed to be a part of the council. Balancing this while working full-time is not always easy, but finding the right way to accomplish all that needs to get done is doable. As a seasoned councilmember I will bring stability, pragmatism, and levelheaded decision-making.

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

The short answer is yes. I have a strong record of voting and helping to maintain a balanced budget each of the seven years I have been on council. Obviously we have had some difficult economic times over those seven years, but we have worked (city staff, council) to make sure we have done what was right for the city while maintaining our fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers of the City of Casper.

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?

Government transparency is paramount in relation to serving the people. Having open meetings, open discussions, and making sure citizens know about meetings and public hearings to voice their concerns is vital. It is also important that the citizens know that their city representatives are easily accessible. Whether that be in the grocery stores, emails or phone calls, City Council members must be ready to respond. If reelected I will continue to make the transparency of the city government a top priority. Supporting open dialogue with the community on any issue is so very important to democracy. Beyond that, citizens should know that their city government is there to serve them and we are an open book. 

7. How have you made your office or board more transparent and open with the public?

During my time as a councilmember I have made it a top priority to encourage public attendance, especially on issues that deeply affected our community. Making sure to encourage the public to attend any public hearings, returning emails, meeting one-on-one and answering phone calls to discuss the issues that they were concerned with. The key to transparency is communication, effective communication to the public. I feel I have worked hard as an individual member of council to make sure people in the community felt heard and validated.

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? 

Both. In my experience I think it is important to get some clarification on an issue you fully didn’t understand while presiding over a meeting. As mayor I have had this happen to me several times. I may stop for a moment and ask city staff to help me understand the issue better. It could be a quick answer, or it could go into a more detailed answer. Oftentimes even after a meeting, I will need to check with city staff for further clarification on very complex issues. The ultimate lesson from this is, you have to put the time in for research and read your packets, etc. But there will be many times you will need to make sure you are following up and understand the issues at hand. We owe it to our community at the very least.

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? 

At this time I am committed to making sure we are meeting our fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens of Casper. There is not one specific issue or policy that I am seeking to change. Rather, it will be important to focus on a balanced budget, maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure, like our streets, aging city buildings and water and sewer systems. Other areas that are important will be achieving a more diverse economy, supporting competitive wages for city staff and city employees.

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 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 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.