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The Casper City Council could undergo significant turnover with the upcoming election. Three incumbents chose not to run for reelection.

As many as five new faces could join the Casper City Council in 2018.

Three current members — Jesse Morgan, Dallas Laird and Kenyne Humphrey — previously announced that they are not running for re-election. And two others— Shawn Johnson and Ray Pacheco— are competing to hold on to their seats.

A retired assistant police chief, two restaurant owners and an attorney are among the Casper residents who have thrown their hats in the ring.

Council members are expected to attend weekly meetings, serve as liaisons on various community boards and committees and communicate with their constituents and the media.

The election will be held Aug. 21.

Applicants are as follows:

Casper City Council Ward 1

Jacquie Anderson

Anderson, the owner of Jacquie’s Bistro, told the Star-Tribune that she hopes to support downtown’s growth and serve as a voice for all small business owners.

“We need to make Casper a little bit more business friendly; there are a lot of hoops to get to your dream,” she said, explaining that she wants to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up shop.

The 50-year old said she was also inspired to run because she believes women’s viewpoints need to be represented in politics. Only one woman — Kenyne Humphrey — is currently serving on the City Council.

If elected, Anderson said she would work to increase public engagement.

Anderson previously served on the Casper City Council from 2001-2004.

Khrystyn Lutz

Lutz said she’s running for office because she believes her experience with managing money would be an asset to the Council.

“Accounting and finance are kind of my wheelhouse — that’s what I do all day, every day,” said Lutz, the vice president of operations at Pathfinder Federal Credit Union.

The 28-year old said she’s already met with Councilman Jesse Morgan to discuss what the position entails. Lutz said she admires Morgan’s efforts to interact with his constituents and would continue that practice if elected.

“I’m not coming into this with any specific agenda. I want people to reach out to me and I want to be their voice,” she said.

Casper City Council Ward 1 (two-year unexpired)

Michael Huber

Huber, an incumbent, was selected by the City Council last March after Councilwoman Amanda Huckabay unexpectedly resigned. The 66-year old is running unopposed.

The retired Natrona County Clerk judge previously told the Star-Tribune that he did not have a specific agenda and planned to focus on a large range of issues, including public services, public safety, traffic planning, code enforcement and leisure services.

Due to his experience as a judge, Huber explained that he’s accustomed to making serious decisions and weighing different sides of every issue.

“I think that is a critical skills set — the ability to keep an open mind,” he said.

Casper City Council Ward 2

Shawn Johnson

Johnson, an incumbent who has served since 2014, said he’s running again because the Council still has some unfinished business.

“I think we need to look at infrastructure — I think we could do a better job,” he said, explaining that he would like to improve city streets and recreational areas.

During his time on the Council, Johnson said he has worked to encourage fiscal responsibility and limit government regulations. The councilman said he would continue to do so if re-elected.

The 35-year old serves in the Wyoming Army National Guard and is an employee at the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.

Mark Kawa

Kawa told the Star-Tribune in an email that he is a constitutional conservative who firmly believes in limited government.

“We represent people; not govern them. The people decide, not the other way around,” he wrote.

The 43-year old said he wants to run for office because he believes in “selfless service” to the community.

Kawa said he is a two-time combat veteran who served in Iraq. He is married with four children.

Casper City Council Ward 2 (two-year unexpired)

Kenneth Bates

Although he isn’t generally interested in politics, Bates said he wants to serve on the City Council because Casper is his hometown.

Explaining that the city has undergone significant growth in recent years, the 38-year old said he’s concerned this development is happening too fast.

“I think we need to slow down,” he remarked.

Bates said he would also like Casper to become more family-friendly. If elected, he would work to offer more free activities and to cut down on the number of establishments that sell alcohol.

“We have a real problem with drinking …” he said. “If we want to be a generation that isn’t raising up a bunch of alcoholics, then we need to be doing something about that.”

Bates recently left his position as a supervisor at the Youth Crisis Center to explore opportunities in the medical field.

William Knight

Knight told the Star-Tribune that he isn’t interested in a long-term political career, but wants to give back to the community for a few years.

The 51-year old said he believes in limited government and thinks the City Council should focus on providing basic services, like streets, police and public transportation.

He added that he’s enjoyed watching the city’s core grow.

“I’m excited about downtown Casper and the changes that have been made,” he said, adding that he wants to keep that momentum going.

Knight, a lawyer, served as the Natrona County attorney for six years and currently has a private practice.

Casper City Council Ward 3

Steven Freel

Freel said he’s running because he would listen to his constituents and carefully research the issues at hand.

“I think you need to have people on Council who will take the time to actually dig into the issues and not just make quick responses and move on or just keep tabling issues until they go away,” he explained.

The 50-year old said he’s confused by some of the Council’s recent decisions, such as paying for a downtown parking study.

“We throw a lot of money away … Anybody could go downtown and look at the parking garage and see how empty is it,” he said.

Freel currently works as a real estate agent. He retired about two years ago as the assistant police chief for the Casper Police Department.

“I’m not going in on behalf of the police department. I’m going in to look at all issues,” he added.

Pete Owen

Owen, who owns the Steamboat Deli and Outlet, said he is seeking public office because he wants to represent the city’s business owners.

“I realized there were no businessmen or businesswomen on the Council. I felt that they needed a voice,” he explained.

If elected, Owen said he would work to keep taxes and regulations low. He said the city’s leaders tend to concentrate on cutting costs and should instead be focusing on growing the economy.

“I would want to look at all those regulations and do things that make it more affordable for companies to bring their business here and bring jobs into Casper,” he said.

Ray Pacheco

Pacheco, an incumbent, is currently serving as the city’s mayor. He told the Star-Tribune that the main reason he became involved with politics is because he wanted to empower and inspire the city’s youth.

“[Politics has] become so negative. We can do better and be a good example for our young people,” said Pacheco, who frequently visits schools and has hosted multiple youth town halls.

If re-elected, Pacheco said balancing the city’s budget would also continue to be among his top priorities.

“There are going to be some hard choices that need to be made,” he said.

The mayor is the regional director for Gear Up, a program at Casper College that helps students successfully transition to college life.

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Katie King covers the city of Casper.


Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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