May 13, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff WriterLongtime Fremont County educator Michelle Hoffman is running the Wyoming Legislature.
She'll seekto the Wyoming House District 54 seat.
"I have been thinking about it off and on since the last election, and I even thought about it last election, but Del has done such a good job I didn't want to run," Hoffman said. "I did some soul searching," she said about why she decided to run.
Hoffman, 56, of Lander, is running for the seat currently held by Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander. McOmie is not seeking re-election after 14 years of service.
Hoffman joins fellow Democrat Bruce Palmer of Lander who announced his candidacy earlier this month.
Hoffman currently serves as superintendent of Wyoming Indian schools in Fremont County School District 14, a position she's held for eight years.
She was the Democratic nominee for Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2006, losing to Republican incumbent Jim McBride
She will retire in December 2013. If elected, she plans to continue working as superintendent while also giving 100 percent to the Legislature.
"You have to know how to divide time in a wise way, and I know how to do that," she said about doing both jobs. "I am retiring, but there are some pieces that I think I can bring to the table. I'm not doing it for me. I want to help," she continued. "I want to enrich, enhance and make life better for Fremont County people."
In addition to education, the longtime educator's political platform includes addressing Wyoming's economic picture.
"We need to take a look at our financial system," she said. "We need to make sure we have a good balance of revenues coming in and expenditures going out."
Hoffman believes she would bring a strong fiscal background and leadership in running a school district for several years.
"I can bring groups together, and I have experience in making hard decisions," she said. "We have to be able to look at today, tomorrow and five years from now."
Hoffman feels minerals are Wyoming's "bread and butter," and the state has to invite that industry into the state on "our terms." At the same time, she says it's important to balance it with land preservation.
"There has to be a balance of what's good for Wyoming," she said. "I believe I have skills to listen to opposing opinions and work with others."
Another issue Hoffman would like to address if elected in November is health care.
"Just because you make a law doesn't mean it's going to happen," she said, referring to the national health care push to require everyone to obtain health insurance.
She gave the example of a single mother who has to choose between spending money on food or health insurance.
"Of course she is going to buy food," she said. "Then it makes a criminal out of somebody trying to survive."
Hoffman suggested tax breaks for those who obtain health insurance.
"Why not reward instead of penalize?" she asked. "We need to look at the system."
Domestic violence is another concern Hoffman would address if elected.
"It's a huge issue in Wyoming," she said.
She recommends education and harsher laws with "more bite" for repeat offenders.
Hoffman feels strongly about individual and personal freedom, and says she would represent her constituents with their opinions in mind.
"A leader listens. That is a huge piece," she said. "I want to be their voice."
Hoffman, who believes in term limits, says an elected seat does not belong to the person serving in it.
"The seat belongs to the people who elected them," she said. "I will speak up for what's best for Fremont County."
She believes individuals at the federal and state level sometimes push for laws because of an agenda. She gave the example of 255 bills filed in the last state legislative budget session that did not involve the budget.
Hoffman served on the Fremont County School District 1 Board of Education in Lander from 1996 to 2002. She served as a trustee, treasurer and vice chairwoman.
Hoffman earned a bachelor's degree in elementary/special education from the University of Wyoming in 1987.
In 1998, she received a master's degree in education from Lesley University, and in 2001, she completed the Principal Endorsement Program from UW.
She is in her 25th year in the Wyoming school system, including six years as a high school special education teacher, six years as a kindergarten- through 12th-grade curriculum coordinator and consolidated grants manager and five years as middle school principal.
She also served 14 years as special education director.
She is currently president of the Fremont County Superintendents organization, and a member of several national and state organizations including National Association of Federally Impacted Schools Association, Council of Exceptional Children, the Governor's Planning Council on Develop-mental Disabilities and the Wyoming School Boards Association.
In 2009, she earned the Myron Basom Excellence in Educational Leadership Award and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society.
Her son, Michael, a Lander Valley High School graduate, completed his requirements at UW for an undergraduate degree in criminal justice/sociology and is completing pre-medicine requirements.
Hoffman pledges to be an elected official who will make herself available to constituents. With an unwavering determination to be a representative who people can approach, Hoffman plans to campaign door-to-door to speak with citizens one-on-one.
She can be contacted at 349-4941 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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