Jul 3, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterDemocrat Keja Whiteman has sat on the Fremont County Commission for eight years but thinks she still has more work to do and has filed to run again to represent District 1.
The district covers Ethete, Arapahoe, Fort Washakie, Crowheart and most of the Wind River Indian Reservation south of the Wind River.
Whiteman points to her background in human resources and public policy as one of her strongest assets.
"That may seem boring, but that's a lot of what I have to offer," she said.
She has worked to straighten out human resource issues, Whiteman said, and she wants to do more.
The county has no consolidated human resources department, she noted, so much of that work falls to the Fremont County Clerk's Office or the county board.
Another strength of hers is understanding and representing different perspectives, Whiteman said.
By adding diversity to the board, she brings different life experiences and represents the perspectives of more people in the community, Whiteman said.
"I'm the only Democrat on our board, and I think that brings a balance, and I was the only woman for a while," she said. "I have not only the academic background but the work experience background to see the whole picture."
She is married to Kendrick Whiteman and the two have a small farm-ranch operation in Araphoe. They have three children in high school and middle school.
Whiteman also works as a consultant, mostly in human resources but also for the Wyoming Department of Education. She also has worked in education and social services.
Whiteman has a bachelor's degree in social work from Salish Kootenai College and a master's in public administration from the University of Wyoming, and she is a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe of North Dakota.
Though not from Fremont County, she is committed to the community, and her choosing to live and raise her children here shows that, she said.
Improving infrastructure in all parts of the county is an issue important to Whiteman.
"We have revenues right now to do some major infrastructure projects, roads and bridges, and I want to make sure they're done ... with an emphasis on health and safety," she said.
One large project she has undertaken is to make sure all employees have written job descriptions, which many positions lacked when she started on the county board. Whiteman also has helped institute trainings for county employees.
"I think it's a great idea to grow leadership skills from within, and that's something I think's been lacking countywide," she said.
Another human resources tool she is implementing annual reviews for county employees.
"(In order) to address the negative issues, and they also recognize the outstanding work the county employees do," she said.
Another strength she brings is an ability to work with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapho tribes, Whiteman said.
"There are so many issues that affect the tribes and Fremont County that we need to have that system built in to work on all of it. I've done some good things, but it's not to the point where it's systematic, and that's where I think it needs to be," Whiteman said.
One instance of successful cooperation she pointed to was the 17 Mile Road project. The county and tribes made an agreement in the 1990s to fix the road, she said, but progress lagged until a few years ago.
The tribes and the Wyoming Department of Transportation pushed the project, she said.
"I was able to help on the county side. I went down and testified in front of the Wyoming Highway Commission and (helped) to get some county funds to infuse," she said. "It was one of the deadliest roads in the state, and I think it's fantastic we have a lot better road to drive on now."
The improvements affect people in her district and others who travel or do business on the road, Whiteman said.
Whiteman is the only Democrat running for her seat and so will be unopposed in the Aug. 19 primary. In the Nov. 4 general election, she likely would face one of the two Republicans --Valaira A. Whiteman or Mark Lambert --running in the Fremont County Commission District 1 race.
Valaira Whiteman is Keja Whiteman's sister-in-law. Valaira Whiteman also is known as Valaira Cardenas and is running for precinct committee woman under that name.
In 2010, Valaira Whiteman ran for the Fremont County School District 38 Board of Trustees as Valaira A. Whiteman Cardenas.
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