Candidates for Laramie City Council Ward 2 and Albany County Coroner took center stage Thursday to discuss issues ranging from infrastructure to bureaucracy.
The latest in a series of League of Laramie Women Voters forums hosted by the Albany County Public Library, local voters and moderator Carrie Bennett kept the candidates busy with their questions.
City Council candidates Michael Armagost, Chris Dixon, Brett Glass, Ray Kasckow and Brandon Newman discussed issues related to housing, the economy and government communications during the forum.
“Our tenants are still in a situation where they could be evicted from their house or live in an apartment that is not necessarily healthy,” Kasckow said.
One of Kasckow’s goals would be to encourage people to move to the city by continuing to develop Ordinance 2039, which outlines a set of safety standards that landlords must follow for their rental properties.
Dixon agreed that an important step in getting people to live in Laramie would be to provide them with clean and safe places to live.
Glass agreed that housing in Laramie is a problem, but is concerned about the rental housing ordinance, including that he believes it is illegal.
Newman and Armagost said housing supply is a major issue. Newman said an important step to solving the housing crisis would be to start by improving the city’s infrastructure and building from scratch.
The candidates agreed that the infrastructure should be in the center of the city and that it would be necessary to examine the water systems before paving the roads.
Dixon said residents of neighborhoods that need a lot of infrastructure work, like West Laramie, need to be willing to pay for it. Glass said whether or not to pave roads in West Laramie should be put to voters, while Newman said some projects should be put on hold due to high costs created by inflation.
The local economy
“We absolutely have to do something to bring in the money and keep it here,” Armagost said.
Armagost would like to focus on finding new sources of revenue for the city that are unrelated to the University of Wyoming. He said improving the local labor market could encourage people to live in the city for the long term instead of moving away.
The candidates agreed that an economic injection is necessary. Some think focusing on small businesses is the answer, while others want to recruit big business.
“The role of the city council is to support locals’ small businesses, but also to find big businesses that are going to stay here and not take our money and run,” Dixon said.
Kasckow said the focus should be on supporting local businesses and providing the necessary infrastructure. Newman agreed, noting that the city should use pre-existing resources that help local small businesses get started in Laramie.
Several candidates said there was a need to improve communication between the city and residents.
“Our biggest problem is apathy,” Glass said. “People haven’t voted for people on city council, and that’s terrible… We really need to involve people more.”
Glass said he takes issue with members of the public not being able to show their faces during City Council Zoom calls, and that he would like to see the city improve communications with residents and make more decisions. based on evidence.
Kasckow said one way to improve communication would be to hire a public information person who would be in charge of social media and other platforms, in addition to breaking down complex issues in a more understandable way.
Armagost said that in addition to using social media and phone calls, the city could use podcasts or YouTube videos to educate the public and offer residents the opportunity to speak up in a comments section after meetings. .
Newman suggested that finding money to send publications to residents could be another way to increase communication.
Candidates expressed mixed views on proposed initiatives to increase transparency with the Laramie Police Department.
Kasckow said they would support a community oversight board for the LPD because it would help increase government transparency and visibility. Additionally, Kasckow would like to see more mental health resources and partnerships that could help overworked officers.
Dixon said that in addition to more mental health training, he would welcome a community group including civilians and police working together to solve problems.
Armagost agreed that there should be some sort of oversight and that increased funding for the LPD would allow for more training.
Glass said that while an oversight board would be relatively “toothless” due to legality issues, it would still have value.
“We should offer the best pay and benefits that make it so desirable to work for LPD that we can choose from applicants…with clean records,” he said, adding that a city ordinance could be created to require officers who do not. t measure up are withdrawn from their positions.
Newman said he absolutely would not support a board of supervisors as previously proposed to the city council, which raised legality issues for some, but that he might consider a different proposal.
Albany County Coroner
The two candidates for Albany County coroner began their discussion by explaining what a coroner does.
The job involves investigating unattended deaths such as suicides, homicides and accidents, and helping to care for the deceased’s property, contestant Sally King said.
This includes reviewing deaths in prison, keeping records and statistics, communicating with the families of those who died and protecting their privacy, opponent Tiffany Reed added.
King, who is running on the Democratic ticket, said she doesn’t think the coroner’s position should be partisan. She explained that the job is all about taking care of people and keeping track of their belongings.
“You are their last voice, and I think that’s important,” King said. “I don’t think party lines matter for this job. I think it depends on your experience and compassion.
Reed, who is running as a Republican, said aspects of political affiliation could influence her behavior on the job. Describing herself as “conservative, if not ultra-conservative,” Reed said she would consider privacy and communicating with the media.
“There are lines that you’re going to have to look at maybe when things are in the paper about an investigation,” she said.
Reed has experience as a veterinarian, which she says would allow her to bring knowledge of anatomy, communication skills and record keeping to her job. She said she also had experience communicating with law enforcement for animal cruelty and similar cases.
King has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and physiology and has worked as an assistant coroner in the Albany County Coroner’s Office for more than five years. She said her existing relationship with law enforcement and other partners would be an asset to the office.
Reed said one thing she would change with the local coroner’s office is to reduce the time it takes to provide death certificates.
“You just do what you have to do and you do it until you’re completely done,” Reed said. “(This) includes making recordings before going home. Waiting for others is not a reason not to keep (families) informed.
King said she feels the office has a pretty good response time, given that in addition to balancing their personal lives, coroners often have to wait for police to complete their investigations and toxicology and drug reports. autopsy come back, which can take six to eight weeks.
“(With) a lot of these things, our hands are kind of tied with outsourced resources,” King said.