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Experienced Christensen seeks second term on county commission
Aug 8, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer
Fremont County Commission District 2 incumbent Dennis Christensen is touting his experience in office, including serving on the Central Wyoming College board, in his re-election campaign for his second term in the seat.
"I've spent four years, so I've gained that much experience. I have several years of experience in public service in Fremont County, and I enjoy doing it," Christensen said.
"Hopefully I can still offer service and insight to Fremont County and a voice for the rural people," he said.
Christensen is seeking the Republican nomination in the Aug. 21 primary election for the District 2 seat against challengers Larry Allen, Richard Denke and Tim Salazar.
Christensen, 65, said his experience puts him above the rest of the field.
"I've got over 20 years experience on the college board, I have four years of experience as a commissioner. So that affords me a certain knowledge with the state legislators, with the federal legislators, even with the other county commissioners through the state association," he said.
The familiarity he has gained from being in office opens lines of communication with other leaders, he said."I can pick up the phone and call and they know who they are talking to," he said. "It allows doors to open that somebody without experience is going to take a little time and effort to get those contacts made."
Christensen identified several issues he wants to address in office during his second term if elected.
"There's still several weighty issues that need to be addressed, and hopefully with the experience I can address those to the best of my ability," he said.
"I think there's always going to be revenue issues and budget issues. That's a given. That just happens with a $23 million budget. And priorities need to be set on that, and that requires some time and cooperation with the other four commissioners," he said.
Resolving issues surrounding the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District remain a priority for Christensen.
"The big, hot-button thing right now is solid waste. I'm not sure that we've got the solution yet. I think that committee is working on it and it's a committee that we as commissioners need to support. We appoint them and we need to guide them a little bit," he said.
"I'm pretty sure we don't have the correct solution yet. I think it's still a work in progress," he added.
As far as other goals in office, Christensen said he is retaining a broad perspective.
"I don't go in with a single agenda. A person told me one time I have got to have an eagle-eye view. I have to look at the entire county and make decisions on what's best for the county," he said.
"You can't single out one issue and say, 'I'll fix that issue,' and move on," he added. "It's an ongoing process."
Public lands, roads
One continuing issue for the commission is dealing with the federal government's regulation of public lands in Fremont County.
"We'll always have a certain amount of influence from the federal government that is not always in the best interest of our custom and culture. ... That's always going to be there," he said.
"As we continue to look at them and work on those issues, hopefully with the acquaintances we have made, hopefully we can influence some of those decisions," he said.
Christensen, the commission's liaison to the transportation department, is also focused on the county's roads.
"I always look forward to trying to maintain our roads that we have so we can always get our products to market and people can get to and from their residences," he said. "We've got a backlog of both bridges and roads, so that's going to be an ongoing issue I enjoy working on."
'A hand up'
Christensen said he also remains supportive of the funding by the commission for various social service agencies in the county.
"Our social programs, that's a portion of our budget. Whether it's addiction (or other issues), there's a lot of poor folks out there and people that are really struggling in this economy today. If we can kind of nudge or give them a little help, give them a hand up, if we're in a position to do that, we certainly should," he said.
"I think we will continue to have people that we need compassion for, that through no fault of their own need a helping hand. And that should be a hand up, not a hand down. We are an independent bunch of people out here and we tend to help our own, and when somebody is truly in need, these people always come through," he said.
Christensen has lived in Fremont County since he was 2 years old, moving to the area after his father established a homestead following World War II. He earned a degree in farm and ranch management from Colorado State University.
"I'm fortunate enough to be self-employed in a position I was educated for. Therefore I have to manage my own budget and I have to work with my own budget. I can't spend more than I bring in. The banks don't like that," he said.
He grew up in the Midvale area and continues to reside about one mile from the home where he grew up. His wife of 42 years is Heather and they have two grown children and four grandchildren.
"A big reason for community service and public service is the next generation. I enjoyed the fair this last week, and it's pretty easy to see the young folks, the next generation coming up have good parents and good leaders," he said.