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Democrats in county to oppose bill on superintendent

Jan 22, 2013 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Democratic Party has voted to voice opposition to Senate File 104 regarding the Wyoming Superintendent of Public instruction post. The party further urges the legislation's defeat in the House of Representatives.

"We want people to know that this is not a Republican thing or a Democratic thing," Democratic Party member Michelle Hoffman said in an interview Monday. "We want people to know it's an issue about having a voice and that we all have a right to be heard, and we feel a few are trying to take that away."

Every four years, voters in Wyoming go to the polls and select a state superintendent. However, if Senate File 104 is passed, most important duties of the position will be turned over to a director appointed by the governor.

The legislation is on its way to the Wyoming House of Representatives after being approved by the Senate.

"This step takes away the voice of the people," Hoffman said about the bill. "By pushing Senate File 104 the way that it's going down, the people of the state lose their voice."

Hoffman was the Democratic nominee for state superintendent in 2006, losing to appointed Jim McBride. Hill then defeated McBride in the Republican primary in 2010 before winning the general election.

The Democratic Party's decision was unanimous among members attending the Jan. 20 monthly meeting at Hudson Town Hall. The group also agreed to forward its motion to others including all Democratic House representatives and members of the local party.

Fremont County Republican Party chairman John Birbari said his group has not taken similar action regarding the bill.

"As a party, we have not taken a position on that one way or the other," Birbari said.

Legislators representing Fremont County residents have different points of view about the bill. Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, last week said he supports the legislation because more checks and balances are needed to assure appropriate policy decisions are made.

Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, and Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Lander, last week both expressed reservations about the bill. Bebout said he would prefer voters maintain a role in state education policy.

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Legislature, Wyoming