Green River Star -

By David Martin

Importance of commission role discussed at forum


Candidates for the two Sweetwater County Commissioner seats available for election discussed what they thought were important issues impacting the county Monday night.

Democrats speaking were Mark Peterson, Gary Bailiff, Holly Dabb and Bodan Janota while the Republicans speaking to residents were Raymond Avery and incumbents Wally Johnson and Don Van Matre.

When asked what the most imporatant role a county commissioner has, many Democrats focused on the commissioners’ budgetary responsibilities as key.

For Dabb, the role is an administrative one focused on directing and managing other county governmental groups through board appointments and sees the budget as an important responsibility the commissioners have.

Janota said commissioners oversee tax dollars spent and promised he would not vote for bonds that could not be paid before the end of his term and is against spending money from the county’s reserve accounts. Janota also spoke about being distressed about how easily residents pass taxes on themselves for improvements, such as the sixth penny tax and the fifth penny tax, which he recalls was once referred to as the optional 1 percent sales tax.

For Peterson, the role is more about being a voice for the people, which he intends to take to Cheyenne and fight for all of the county’s residents. He disagrees with how the state is not utilizing its reserve accounts for the cities and counties across the state, especially in the current downturn.

Bailiff, a former sheriff and county commissioner, said the primary goal for the commissioners is to set budgets and live within those budgets. He also said most boards answer directly the commissioners and believes disputes between boards and commissioners can be ironed out if they come together and work it out.

“We all have to come together and make it work,” he said.

Republicans, asked differing questions, discussed what the most important issue they deal with is.

Johnson said land issues are most important to him because 70 percent of the county is federal land and while he believes much of that land is important in the development of mineral resources, he also thinks a balance should occur in regards to places like Little Mountain, which he thinks should be off-limits to development.

Van Matre said the commissioners are responsible for everything that either happens or doesn’t happen in the county and said oversight of the budget is the most important job commissioners have. He believes a budget should be passed based on the county’s revenue.

For Avery, he sees promoting employment as the commissioners’ top duty and believes commissioners should fight regulations prohibiting job growth.


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