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SHERIDAN – The county commission here appointed banker Mark Kinner Monday afternoon to serve in the Wyoming House.

Kinner, 62, replaces late Rep. John Patton, R-Sheridan, who died April 5. Patton had been re-elected for a two-year term in House District 29 in November.

Kinner was appointed after a Monday interview with Sheridan County Commissioners and a Saturday interview with Sheridan County GOP precinct representatives.

“I’m very humbled and very honored to be filling John’s shoes in his seat, so to speak,” he said, moments after he was appointed. “I certainly appreciate the support of all the precinct people in the district and all of the county commissioners. I will work really hard to earn and keep that trust that they have given me today.”

Patton had served four stints in the Wyoming Legislature since the 1960s. He was a moderate, a pragmatist and a champion for education.

Kinner said he is also passionate about education.

He served for six years as a trustee for Sheridan College about a decade ago. He described the experience of attending graduation ceremonies, and how humbled he was by students who returned to school to earn their GEDs.

“What a commitment on their part,” he told county commissioners. “They hadn’t made it through high school, for whatever reason, but they went back and worked really hard. So that’s had a big impact on me.”

Kinner said he has a steep learning curve ahead of him, but he hoped other lawmakers, including members of the Sheridan County delegation, will help him.

To get bills passed, his approach will be collaborative, he said.

“I feel like I am a consensus person,” he said. “I think balance is the right way to go. I want to listen to all parties involved (and) diverse opinions, then get together with fellow legislators and then determine what would be the best for the state of Wyoming.”

Kinner is retiring soon from First Interstate Bank. He has worked in banking for 40 years, and has seen the booms and the busts of the Wyoming economy.

He said he worked two or three jobs to save money for a down payment on his first house in Casper. Thanks to a boom, his house increased in value and he was able to use the increased equity to purchase a more expensive house. But when he moved to Sheridan 30 years ago, it was a time of bust.

“We had lost all that we had in that home” in Casper, he said. “We did not have enough equity to buy a home so we rented until we could build back. So I understand the booms and the busts.”

Prior to his career in banking, he said he drove a truck that delivered core samples from every oil field in the state to a laboratory in Casper. The work inspired an interest in oil and gas. He took courses at Casper College to learn more about petroleum technology, which helped his career in commercial lending.

Four Republicans applied for HD29: Kinner, Ky Dixon, Patri #topupdate ck Geary and Ryan Mulholland. On Saturday, GOP precinct leaders eliminated Dixon and forwarded the names of the remaining three to commissioners, who interviewed the finalists and selected Kinner.

Follow political reporter Laura Hancock on Twitter @laurahancock.

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