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Candidate Questionnaire: Shianne Huston for Natrona County Commission

Shianne Huston is running for a four-year seat on the Natrona County Commission. (Courtesy Shianne Huston)

CASPER, Wyo. — Election season is underway and Oil City News has sent a list of questions to each Natrona County candidate 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 Shianne Huston, who is running for a four-year seat on the Natrona County Commission:

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

My name is Shianne Huston and I am running for Natrona County Commissioner. I grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota, and I have lived here in Natrona County since 2012. My husband and I currently live on the property he grew up on. Like many of you, I am a small business owner and veteran. For the past nine years I have owned/operated Off The Beaten Path, an antique store in Mills. My military time totaled almost 21 years split between the active Air Force and the active Wyoming Air National Guard in Cheyenne. I have a very diverse background ranging from babysitting and waiting tables to medical, human resources and transportation. I have three AA degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, a BS degree in Health Services Management from the University of Maryland University College, and an MBA from the University of Wyoming. My business is my retirement hobby and I pass my time picking forgotten treasures and visiting with friends, family and customers. I had the honor of serving my country and the great state of Wyoming. I am now asking for the honor to serve the great people of Natrona County. 

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

In January 2019, we started the process to build a shop on a lot we had purchased adjacent to our property. Between dealing with Planning and Zoning and the Building Department and then several thousand dollars later, we finally broke ground in April 2020. Property owners in Natrona County are dealing with way too much governmental controls and bureaucracy when it comes to enjoying and improving their properties, especially those of us that live in unincorporated areas of the county. As a whole, property owners are over-regulated and over-taxed. “Freedom and property rights are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other” — George Washington. My goal is to eliminate as much of the government controls and bureaucracy as I can so that property owners can utilize and enjoy their property to its full potential.

3. How do you plan to accomplish your goals?

I plan to accomplish this goal by helping to elect like-minded commissioners, City Council representatives, and state legislators. Working with current commissioners and reminding them that, as elected officials, they work for the people of Natrona County will also be essential. My goal will be a tough task because it can be hard to scale back government once they have tasted that power, but I’m up to the task.

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

My time in the military has made me very aware of how government works and, in some cases, doesn’t work. I have had to work across federal, state and local agencies to achieve certain missions. I have written and implemented policies and procedures to meet federal and state regulations. The different career fields I worked in will provide a much-needed diversity of thought to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). Waiting tables and owning a business has provided invaluable customer service experiences. If you come before the BOCC or the Board of Equalization, I promise my undivided attention and will listen to you. I will not laugh at you, talk down to you nor will I send you a letter calling you antigovernment.

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

I will be an excellent steward of the peoples’ tax dollars. In the military I was often criticized for following funding and spending requirements. I would often be asked, “Why not? It’s not your money.” Well, yes, it is my money. I’m also a taxpayer. I can also identify fraud, waste and abuse of spending when I see it. The best example of wasteful spending is “use it or lose it” spending that is done at the end of each year. Everyone gets new furniture to ensure they get budgeted the same amount next year. As a small business owner, I have to operate within a budget and scrutinize all expenditures or I could go out of business. 

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?

The more transparency, the better. As a government agency, if you aren’t transparent, you are hiding something. The BOCC has a website with their schedule, minutes and audio readily available. However, I believe more can be done to encourage public attendance. This is the age of social media. Before each meeting and working group, notices should be published to remind and encourage attendance, especially if there are specific topics that impact county residents. 

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 believe that the BOCC could be more transparent, open and honest with the public. As I stated previously, they have a website where agendas and minutes are available, but those don’t necessarily address specific issues happening in the county. I believe a statement from the BOCC in what they are doing or not doing to address specific issues. Ultimately everything comes back to the BOCC. As a county commissioner, I plan to keep my FB page so I can discuss issues as they arise. I will also post how and why I voted on issues. Complete transparency is always best, but I do understand the need to protect information that is Privacy Act protected.

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

I would absolutely ask during the meeting, especially if it’s something that has to be decided at that time. The more information I have, the better and more informed decision I’ll be able to make. If it is something that doesn’t need decided that day, I will continue to reach out to the constituent until I have all the information needed to make an informed decision. I’m a visual learner, so the more documents/documentation you can provide, the better. I promise I will actually read it.

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

The major changes I’d like to see done are the goals I discussed in Question 2. I would also like to see changes done to the part the BOCC plays in the property tax appeals process, in particular some sort of accountability when an appeal is remanded back to the County Assessor. I realize that a lot of that process is dictated by state statutes and would mean reaching out to state legislators. I am up to that task too.

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

Many believe, myself included, change is needed on the BOCC. If you believe the government should be small and the rights of the people larger, vote for me. If you are searching for an open-minded, transparent and just another yes vote for the status quo county commissioner, vote for me. Thank you.

NOTE: All primary candidates who filed to run for the Natrona County Commission 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.