CHEYENNE -- When Kathryn Sessions moved from the Wyoming House to the Senate in 1998, the Democrat won the seat over her Republican challenger, Ed Prosser.
When Sessions ran for re-election in 2002 and 2006, she had no challengers.
This year is different. She has an opponent in Lynn Nutting, who ran for the Republican nomination as a write-in candidate.
Nutting retired in April from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Cheyenne where she served as a nurse practitioner.
She was on active duty with the Army from 1990 to 1995 and was stationed in Germany. Her last rank was major.
She has lived in Cheyenne since 1995.
Nutting mounted her write-in campaign to get on the general ballot after she saw that Sessions had no general election opponent.
"I really felt strongly that it was our responsibility as citizens to vote and to have qualified people on the ballot. And I felt it was not a civic thing to allow a position to be unfilled," Nutting said.
"I am running to let the people of my district exercise term limits by ballot and bring a fresh vision to the Senate," she added.
Sessions agreed that competition is healthy. "I think choices are good," she said.
Moreover, she has found the challenge invigorating. She is campaigning more, has her own website and has scheduled three Saturday events to meet voters and "listen to the people."
The two differ on whether the state has been responsible with the budget.
Sessions believes it has. She pointed out that Gov. Dave Freudenthal cut $1 billion from the state budget last year -- a move the Legislature supported.
Sessions said she would wait to see what revenues are produced before considering future cuts.
Nutting said spending can be greatly decreased by reducing unnecessary legislation and increasing faith in the private sector.
"Government involvement mostly increases regulation while decreasing innovation," Nutting said. "I will focus on the first role of government -- to protect the rights of the people."
Both Sessions and Nutting oppose any new taxes, including a tax increase on minerals and a toll road on Interstate 80.
Sessions believes some money will be available for highway repairs.
The candidates differ on a wind tax.
Sessions supports a fair tax for wind energy, while Nutting is opposed.
Nutting said a $1 per megawatt hour tax will discourage the industry.
"We need to embrace wind energy, not tax it," Nutting said.
Regarding the performance of public schools, Sessions noted that while education can always improve, her nine grandchildren have attended Wyoming public schools and are receiving or have received excellent educations.
Sessions also noted she is on the Legislature's education calibration committee, which is committed to accountability for the education of the students.
Nutting supports accountability, enabling parents, educational choice and rewarding good teachers along with sound measurable results is the way to improve education.
Asked what the government can do to spur economic diversity and development, Sessions said she would like to see local banks take a more active role in supporting small businesses in the state.
Nutting said she would work to return to the original intention of the state's 5 percent resident contractor preference law in local government construction.
The Legislature changed the definition of who can quality for the preference as a resident business. As a result, she said, any business that opens an office in the state can qualify without requiring an investment in Wyoming.
Regarding the state's marriage law, Nutting said the issue is so important to people that any change should be put on the ballot.
Sessions noted that Wyoming's law states a marriage is between a man and a woman.
"This is a very strong statement and there is no movement to lessen this law for me to support or not to support," Sessions said.
Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at (307) 632-1244 or email@example.com
SENATE DISTRICT 7
Representing southeast Cheyenne
Occupation: Retired educator.
Education: Bachelor of science in education, Utah State, and masters of arts in the curriculum, Lesley University, Boston.
Family: Widow, 3 adult children.
Political experience: 6 years in the House, 12 years in the Senate.
Occupation: Retired nurse practitioner.
Education: Bachelor in nursing, Loretto Heights College, Denver; masters in nursing, University of Colorado. Also attended various military schools and colleges.
Family: 2 adult children.
Political experience: None.