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Hornecker to seek fourth term as sheriff

Feb 27, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Fremont County Sheriff Skip Hornecker has announced his intention to run for a fourth term, well in advance of the May filing deadline.

"I've had a lot of people hit me up about it," Hornecker said this week. "There were enough people wondering or asking, so I thought I might as well go ahead and announce a little early."

The timing gives potential opponents a chance to decide whether they want to run for the spot. Hornecker said it would be one of his "dreams" to run unopposed, but he also thinks a challenge is good for him, and for the community.

"That way you have the ability to ... have those spirited forum discussions," he said.

He will be 63 years old by the end of his current term. Hornecker said there is still a lot of work he'd like to do for the agency. He has been sheriff since 2003 but has worked in law enforcement since 1984, when he became a local deputy.

He also spent four years as a full-time instructor at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy.

"I want to continue to grow with this organization," Hornecker said, calling the FCSO "one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the state."

"We're at a point where all the cylinders are clicking, (and) I just want to continue to serve the community in this capacity."

As sheriff, Hornecker said he has tried to surround himself with effective employees who are able to work independently to follow the protocols he has set.

"I just get out of the way," he said. "That tends to make the organization work well. I think that's why our organization is functional right now."

He pointed to recent accomplishments at the agency, beginning with several "cold" murder cases that were investigated in the past year. For example, two brothers were arrested and convicted in connection with the 2006 disappearance of Tad Paul Barnson, whose skeletal remains were found east of Riverton in March 2013.

In November, Gerald Uden confessed to killing his ex-wife Virginia Uden and their sons Reagan, 10, and Richard, 11, in 1980.

"Those are key accomplishments during my tenure as sheriff," Hornecker said.

The FCSO also has developed a new working protocol for its detention center and had made upgrades to its communications department, adopting the $44,000 Medical, Fire and Police Priority Dispatch System to provide a uniform response to local emergencies.

Hornecker said he has learned that change is the only constant dynamic in law enforcement.

"We adjust accordingly," he said. "We adjust as needed."

He described himself as a "dyed in the wool" conservative Republican but added that he doesn't think of himself as a politician.

"I am a professional peace officer," he said. "I work directly for the people -- not a committee, a council, or a governing board."

He was not born in Fremont County, but Hornecker said he comes from a local pioneer family and has lived in the area his whole life.

"This is my hometown -- I graduated from high school here (Lander) and was raised here on a ranch," he said.

He worked as a civilian until he was in his 30s, when he said he got into law enforcement "by accident."

"I had no intentions of going into law enforcement," he said. "I was just kind of banging around a little bit, looking for which direction my career would go."

Tim McKinney, who was Fremont County's sheriff at the time, asked Hornecker to join his team on a part-time basis.

"And wow, it just went from there," Hornecker said. "I hope that the community is satisfied."

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