The primary election campaign for governor has begun.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill said she woke up Thursday morning after a restless night and decided to go for it in 2014.

“I know in my heart there’s something I have to do here,” she said in the Hathaway Building while movers were taking her furniture to a new office in the Historic Barrett Building near the Wyoming Capitol.

It was the latest episode in a tumultuous week for the embattled schools chief.

Gov. Matt Mead on Tuesday signed into law a bill that transfers most of the superintendent's duties to the newly created Wyoming Department of Education director position. After Mead's press conference, Hill and her lawyer served the governor with a lawsuit disputing Senate File 104 on grounds it violates the state constitution.

Hill said people have been encouraging her to run for governor since April.

In the meantime, Hill said, “I’ll continue to do my work.”

If election season is starting early, Mead is showing no signs of fight.

“He will decide and announce his future plans, political or otherwise, at the appropriate time,” a statement from the governor's office said. “With the Legislature in session, with the urgent needs of the Department of Education, Governor Mead does not feel this is the time to launch a campaign for an election that is roughly two years away.”

A lawsuit, a newly defined job, a run for governor – Hill says she’s up for all of it.

“You know, I’m hard-working,” she said. “I have lots of energy.”

The first hearing for the lawsuit is 4 p.m. Tuesday in Laramie County District Court.

In addition to the lawsuit, Hill's attorney filed a request for a temporary restraining order to halt implementation of the law until a court can decide the matter.

Hill, who was elected in 2010, said an appointed position is not a reflection of the people's voice. She believes the governor had his own reasons for supporting SF104.

“I know he had tremendous pressure from the (legislative) leadership,” she said.

“They stripped me, or are attempting to,” she said of her powers. “… Maybe they would have attempted to (do the same) with the governor. I don’t know.”

Hill believes there is a “small, powerful group” in the Legislature that worked against her.

2010 campaign

Hill ran for superintendent saying she’d bring back emphasis on instruction.

She acknowledged there had been turnover in the Department of Education since she took over in January 2011. She said she empathizes with the long-timers who were frustrated by the changes she wanted to make.

“The staff are hard-working,” she said. “Those who were genuinely frustrated left right away.”

On Thursday, she hugged and said goodbye to the staff who remained at the Department of Education.

“I hope they honor the new leadership that comes in,” she said, mentioning that she struggled with some staff members.

Hill had tremendous difficulty working with colleagues at Carey Junior High School, said Ted Adams, a former Laramie County School District 1 superintendent. In 2010, he was Hill’s opponent in the state superintendent Republican primary race. He said Hill was incompetent as an assistant principal but she knew how to run a successful campaign.

“Getting elected to an office and then being able to provide leadership are two different sets of skills,” Adams said Thursday.

Hill told the Star-Tribune in 2010 that district officials didn't appreciate her school improvement efforts, such as extra tutoring and academic interventions, while she was assistant principal. She also accused teachers’ unions of spreading stories that she’d been fired. Hill said she resigned as assistant principal Feb. 28, 2010, to run for superintendent.

However, the timeline of events around the school district's rehiring process and Hill's resignation cast doubt on Hill's administrative performance.

Administrator contracts in LCSD1 are renewed annually and recommended to the school board of trustees for approval. John Lyttle, associate superintendent of human relations for LCSD1, said in the October 2010 Star-Tribune story that underperforming administrators are put on an "improvement plan" with the district and monitored for performance. If improvement is not made, the district can choose to not rehire the administrator.

A list of building administrators recommended for rehire was submitted Feb. 8, 2010, according to a memo from Lyttle.

Hill's name did not appear on the list. Hill submitted a letter of resignation dated Feb. 28.

The board approved rehired administrators March 1 and Hill's resignation March 15. 

Run for governor

Hill said it wasn’t her ambition to someday run for governor.

“I thought I’d be a superintendent and growing kids and working with teachers for years and years and years,” Hill said.

Hill said state Rep. Stephen Watt, R-Rock Springs, influenced her decision to run. She read a statement he issued publicly Tuesday, saying her courage was a quality a governor should have.

“That was really nice of him,” she said.

Watt said Thursday he wrote the statement on his own volition. He sees Hill as a fighter.

“She took some hard hits from some powerful people and she still stood there and didn’t buckle down,” Watt said. “My God that’s courage. That’s integrity. That’s what I want. That’s what we need.”

Jim King is the chairman of the University of Wyoming Political Science Department. He said if Mead does run for a second term, it would be hard for Hill to unseat him.

“It is difficult to unseat an incumbent,” he said. “And it really doesn’t matter what state-level office we’re talking about."

If Hill is running as a Republican, it would make things interesting, King said. It’s rare to see interparty challenges for governor, he added.

“It will be a robust time in the party in the next couple of years,” said Miles Dahlby, chairman of the Natrona County Republican Party.

Wyoming Democratic Party Executive Director Robin Van Ausdall said she was surprised to hear Hill announce so early.

“She’s firmly established herself with a small minority of people,” Van Ausdall said.

(7) comments

LiferRepub
LiferRepub

Go Cindy. I made the mistake of voting for Mead and won't let it happen again. Mead has proven himself to be a tool. Watch out in 2014. If the Governors race doesn't go Hank's way then they will change it to an appointed position as well.

mcfromkc
mcfromkc

I guess being pragmatic and not being a rabid right-winger makes him a tool.
Wishful thinking liferrepub, Mead is a popular (77% approval rating in 2012) incumbent governor and will be re-elected especially running against someone like Cindy Hill.

LiferRepub
LiferRepub

Pragmatic isn't the term one should apply to a Governor who is complicit in subverting the intent of voters of our fine state. Like her or not, Hill was elected to run education. The action by the legislature and Mead is more reminiscent of the politics of Venezuela than a modern democracy.

Bjones
Bjones

She couldn't even hold onto the seat of State Superintendent of Public Instruction and now expects to get votes for Governor.
Just get a job in the private sector and enjoy life!

WyoPokem
WyoPokem

I have never met Cindy Hill but all evidence points to her being a terrible administrator and boss in general. If people believe in the abilities of the person put in charge of them, they won't leave their job because of a change in direction. That sounds like an excuse.

From the person I talked to who worked for Cindy, she talked about intimidation and a terrible work environment. She was even advised to take a "sick day" the day Cindy was leaving because fears of repercussions from Cindy due to her losing her authority. Employees would not have those kind of fears about a rational person. I hope this is not the type of person you would want as governor.

As with all offices, you want someone to bring people together, not to alienate and intimidate.

EasyTurbo
EasyTurbo

Seems rational. People who are effectively fired from consecutive jobs should make their next job search as open and public as possible.

Sage52
Sage52

Chairman Mau Tse Coe must think he is a dictator.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.