Three-party House District 54 race featured in debateOct 19, 2012 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
The Republican, Democratic and Libertarian candidates for Wyoming House District 54 discussed the importance of their national political platforms to their personal political philosophies last month during a debate at Central Wyoming College. They also talked about the ways their party affiliation would affect their votes during legislative sessions in Cheyenne.
Bruce Palmer, a "proud Wyoming Democrat," said his party affiliation is important because it informs his overall view of the political process. But he assured his audience that he would strive to represent all of his district by staying in touch with constituents and doing his own research.
"There are definitely a lot more Republicans in our community than Democrats," Palmer said. "But we're all just people really, and I think we have many of the same needs. I think I could do a great job representing those."
For example, he said he sees problems with the federal Affordable Care Act, and he thinks the state should work to provide solutions for its own residents, 20 percent of whom are without health insurance. He doesn't think the public wants him to "check his brain at the door," though, mentioning one topic on which he already has an opinion.
"I'm pro-choice, I believe in that," Palmer said. "I don't think the government should get between a woman and her position. ... That'd be one spot I'd follow the Democratic line pretty strongly."
Republican candidate Lloyd Larsen said he has enjoyed campaigning for state office because it has given him a chance to speak with residents about local issues. He acknowledged that some topics can be divisive, but Larsen said he looks forward to working through those topics with his constituents.
"If we disagree, we'll have that discussion," he said. "I find it difficult to see there'll be a lot of times we have huge disagreements we can't work through."
Larsen said he agrees with the Republican platform that government should be kept as small as possible so it can be controlled by the people. Limited government requires fiscal responsibility, he continued, calling for less federal control over states' rights.
"It's important for us to allow states ... to be able to govern their borders and people as the people of the state deem necessary and proper," Larsen said.
Ryan Jones said Libertarians believe that people should be free of government oversight except when it comes to the prosecution of criminals. He said he would listen to his constituents' concerns, but he would be careful to avoid getting the government involved in work that should be addressed locally or privately.
"I'd represent people in the things that represent all people as a whole," Jones said. "(Some) people want special treatment. ... I'd listen to them patiently but not vote for them."
For example, he said public land should be available for anyone's use, as long as the property is left relatively unchanged. Any other use should take place on private property, he said, pointing specifically to recreational areas that are maintained with property tax revenues.
"A lot of people ... never get to use the recreation (area), but they still pay the taxes that fund preserving it for specific recreational purposes," Jones said. "Can't these people who want to use it for recreation fund the recreational areas themselves? Are there not enough of them they can't afford to purchase land to do those things they want to as a group? It seems strange they have to require forcing everyone else to finance their activities."
On the topic of abortion, Jones said he does not agree with the procedure, but he respects the rights of the pregnant woman.
"I don't think government should have as much intrusion into a person's life as they have now," Jones said. "Certainly conception, pregnancy, birth, they should be as far away from that as possible."