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Campbell makes run for second term in HD 34

Aug 19, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

As she nears the completion of her first term in office, House District 34 Rep. Rita Campbell said wants to continue her public service with another two years of work in Cheyenne.

"Working on my first term, I enjoy being there. I've always been interested in politics and trying to do the best I can for the rest of the people that live in Wyoming and particularly in House District 34 and the rural area," said Campbell, who lives between Riverton and Shoshoni. "I just want to see our government kept as strong as it is, taking care of our infrastructure and our safety and our law enforcement and all of the things that make us good citizens. It's not that I want to grow government. I just think that government is needed."

Campbell, who won an election in 2010 after longtime lawmaker Frank Philp decided not to continue serving, is seeking the Republican nomination in the Aug. 21 primary against challenger Lois Herbst.

From the legislative redistricting earlier this year, House District 34 spans a massive rural area through Fremont County from Jeffrey City in the southeast to Pavillion and into Dubois in the northwest.

Taxation and education are two priorities for Campbell in office.

"I think my goals are to keep taxation as low as possible -- money is tight for everybody -- and education, follow through and improve our education system as well as someone in Legislature could do," she said.

Campbell said she supports the state's move toward accountability in education.

"I think now that they are going to be using students' test scores to evaluate how the teaching is progressing, we need progress for our students to pass through the education system," she said.

Campbell is a 12-year member of the school board in Shoshoni.

"I think all the employees of the school district will be held accountable in some ways," she said. "Having been on the school board and experiencing what could happen in the school system, I think accountability is going to be a necessary item."

Another concern for Campbell is on-the-job safety for Wyoming's workforce.

"One of the things I'd like to address is our safety issues; our workforce is showing there are some safety issues," she said.

Although she identified priorities, Campbell said she wants to be able to address all issues that come before the Legislature. Her experience in Cheyenne has shown her it's difficult to define a definite goal, she said.

"You just need to be an all-around knowledgeable person," she said. "There are many issues that need to be addressed. I hope I have the knowledge to study these issues and make reasonable decisions."

In the contested primary race, Campbell pointed to reasons for voters to elect her.

"I've been a business person all my life," she said. "I've employed many people. I have been an employee myself. I have served on several boards. I was a school trustee for 12 years and that was quite an experience. And I enjoy being with people and seeing that people receive good rights, I guess."

A memorable moment from her term in office involved a request for her to cosponsor a bill.

"One of the interesting bills I was asked to sponsor was a bill regarding handicap parking. The person that was the primary sponsor had a family member that obviously needed to use a wheelchair or scooter at various times," Campbell said.

The bill addressed a problem that Campbell recalled in an Ann Landers column about vehicles, including police cars, encroaching on parking spaces for the disabled.

"At the time, I thought, 'Why do we have to make laws like this?'" she said.

Campbell recalled another issue involving an abundance of elk around Laramie.

"They're damaging the farmers' private property," she said. "We've been working on that. We did get a bill passed ... that allowed more hunting licenses at the time."

She said the issue will resurface, and she'll probably spend time working on it.

Funding for roads in the state is another anticipated issue for the Legislature, Campbell said.

"The highway funding source has been talked about for such a long time," she said. "It is still something that comes up with the revenue committee, and I serve on the revenue committee. We've had extensive meetings on this, but nothing has been solved, and that will be a working effort to find sustainable highway funding."

Campbell was born in Denver and lived for a while in Illinois before relocating to Casper, where she graduated from Natrona County High School.

She attended Mount Marty College in Yankton, S.D., as well as Casper College and Central Wyoming College.

She met her husband in Casper and they occupied the intersection of Highways 789 and 134, what has become known as Campbell's Corner. She has lived at Campbell's Corner since 1965.

She continues to work in the family businesses, Campbell Live-stock and Star Trucking. She served on the Fremont County School District 24 board from 1998 through 2010.

Campbell did not give her age.

"It's my right. I don't have to tell it," she said. "I really haven't been telling my age. It turned into a funny joke, and I've been hanging on to it. I never can remember how old I am. I always have to think about it."

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