Owen encouraged by number of council candidates committed to community

Photo courtesy of Pete Owen

CASPER, Wyo. — Pete Owen would like to join the Casper City Council “to make an impact in my community through hard work, intelligent vision and dedication to excellence.”

He’s encouraged by the amount of people applying to fill the Ward III vacancy.

“I think this is an exciting selection process because I heard it was the most people that have ever entered,” Owen said on Monday Aug. 5. “And that means a lot, people are wanting to get involved and a lot of people are wanting to contribute.”

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“I think that’s awesome. The more people that want to be involved, the better it is for our town.”

Owen talked about why he put his name in the hat.

“I’ve just always wanted to serve my community,” he said. “I ran for office this past year and that was in Ward III and Steve Freel and Ray Pacheco ended up winning that race.”

“And so as soon as I found out this was available, I put my name back in right away.”

Supporting economic growth is a priority for Owen, who is currently the owner of Pokes Investments, LLC.

“My background is in business and so one thing that is important to me is focusing on growing our local economy,” he said. “I have a lot of ideas to do that.”

“I feel like the government’s role should be obviously to provide public services, provide public safety, and then I think maybe next on the list is create an environment that both attracts and retains business because without a good economy, everything else suffers.”

He sees positive signs in Casper right now, but wants to ensure that growth is sustained.

“We’ve seen a little bit of that these past few years and we’re rebounding a little bit now and revenues are up again,” Owen said. “People are moving back in to Casper. So it’s slow growth, but growth is always good.”

“If we’re shrinking our economy, that’s really detrimental. I’m sure you’ve seen businesses close over the past years and things like that and so I think I would bring some nice ideas on how to keep the economy growing and keep Casper in a growth mode long term.”

Owen, former dean at Natrona County High School, thinks the current council is doing good work.

“I’m actually thrilled with the current council,” he said. “This past election cycle, I feel like there was some good energy brought onto the Council. It seems like for the first time in a long time I feel like there’s really a lot of good thinkers on the council.”

“A lot of good conversation goes on. There haven’t been many things that have been ‘controversial,'” Owen said.

He says it is inevitable that some controversial issues will arise.

“Councils come across hot-button issues over the years and they are bound to come up where there are a lot of people that get involved in the process, a lot of people come out and speak against and for an issue,” Owen continued.

“But there really haven’t been a lot of those lately. The only thing that I can really think of off the top of my head that stirred up a little bit of noise was the dog leash law.”

While that issue may have caused some controversy, Owen said the council had sound reasoning behind their decision.

“But I think the intent behind that was very positive,” he said. “I think when they released some of the statistics on how many people do get bit, that kind of shocked me a little bit.”

“So I thought that made sense to me, that, if you’re going to be out in public, you know, not on your own property and not fenced in, let’s have your animals on a leash just to make sure people are safe. I mean, dogs can be unpredictable, we’ve all had our own pets over the years and they’ve not always been angels or have done something unexpected, so I think it is great. It sounds like a proactive move to me.”

Owen says that the ward system makes sense to ensure that voices from across Casper are on the council, but doesn’t think council members’ role is to represent their ward alone.

“I feel that once elected, you’re really not a ward member, you’re representing the entire city,” he said. “I think the wards were set up to give representation to every part of town so that one side of town didn’t get all the representation and one side of town didn’t get all the development and all the influx of investment and things of that nature, which I think is a very good idea.”

“But I think our town has grown out on both ends and I think that’s very positive.”

If chosen, he’s prepared to work with the other council members.

“I want to be a great teammate,” Owen said. “I feel like I bring a lot of good ideas to the table and I would love the opportunity to serve Casper and give back to the community that has given me so much.”

Owen says that he has lived in Casper for 22 years. He was previously the general manager at the Casper Country Club.

He is the president of the Downtown Casper Business Association and is a former member of the Downtown Development Authority board.

Before he came to Casper, Owen said he lived in many places and thinks that this experience outside of Wyoming also gave him a number of ideas that could be applied in Casper.

Enthusiastic about the number of people interested in filling the vacancy, Owen hopes that those who aren’t chosen find other ways to stay active in the community.

“I hope that those who do not get selected, including myself if I’m not chosen, will continue to do other things that will help Casper,” he said. “Get involved in other boards around town or volunteer. That can only bring good things.”