CASPER, Wyo — “Before I was intimately involved in government, I didn’t realize how services (or lack of services) impacted my life or the lives of my neighbors,” said Brook Kaufman in an email to Oil City News.
Kaufman is running to keep her seat on the Board of County Commissioners appointed in February 2019, when she took over for Matt Keating. There are two open seats on the board to be decided in the August 18 Republican primary election, currently open in Natrona County.
She said a the impact of county government on residents was well evidenced by the closure of the courthouse for a short time due to the impacts of COVID-19.
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“People still need to license their vehicles. They still want marriage licenses,” Kaufman said. “Many prefer to pay their property taxes in person. County government is close to the people.”
Kaufman is also the CEO of Visit Casper, which promotes tourism. Visit Casper campaigns have included the 2017 Eclipse Festival, College National Finals Rodeo, and a recent campaign inviting Natrona County residents to host out-of-town friends and family.
“We have world-class outdoor recreation assets.” Kaufman said. She said Alcova, Pathfinder, Casper Mountain and the North Platte River not only contributed to residents’ quality of life, but “play a critical role in our ability to diversify our economy in the future and attract talent, families and visitors.”
She said she and the other commissioners had “worked very hard on pushing for some overdue maintenance in our parks system.” She cited the rehabilitation of the Ponderosa Park facilities that had been destroyed by the 2012 Sheepherder fire, an effort shared by fellow commissioner candidate Dave North and members of the Casper Mountain Snow Gypsies. Improvements underway at Alcova Lake include construction of a bath house.
“I’m really excited about the next 12 months on that,” Kaufman said.
On the duties of commissioner, Kaufman wrote, “Statutorily we are required to fund mandated services including the County Clerk, Sheriff, Coroner, Clerk of District Court, Treasurer, and the Assessor. These mandated services are my top funding priorities.”
The county passed a balanced budget for the 2020-2021, thanks in part to lodging taxes that beat worst-case projected losses. “The County runs very lean from an expense perspective.”
“I’m also happy to share that we are working with an outside consultant and our building department to update our zoning regulations,” she said.
She said being a Commissioner involved making enormous decisions that not everyone is happy with, but wanted to keep government approachable and work with groups to solve problems.
Kaufman credits her time at Leadership Wyoming to shaping her enthusiasm for civic engagement.