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Republican candidate emerges in race to succeed Gray in Casper House district

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A former Illinois school board member and Casper newcomer is running for House District 57.

Jeanette Ward announced she’s running as a Republican in a suburban district that is being vacated by Rep. Chuck Gray so he can run for secretary of state.

Ward has lived in Wyoming since late August and works as a project manager in the chemicals and materials industry.

Ward said that Gray reached out to her to run after he jumped into the secretary of state’s race.

Although Ward has been in Casper less than a year, she thinks she’s the best person to represent the residents of HD57. Since arriving in Wyoming, Ward said she has been “quite involved politically and very connected with the liberty lovers here.”

She was a part of the recent pro-life protests at the abortion clinic that is being built in Casper. She’s also a part of the Natrona County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a national organization that promotes parental rights in government.

Before coming to Wyoming, Ward served one term on a school board in the suburbs of Chicago from 2015 to 2019. She was described by the Chicago Tribune as a “controversial” board member and made headlines for comments and Facebook posts that caused a stir.

She made statements in opposition to the district adopting a new policy pertaining to transgender students and to a class assignment one of her daughter’s received that made religious statements Ward didn’t agree with, according to the Chicago Tribune.

During Black History Month, Ward made a Facebook post in honor of the commemorative month that also prompted backlash. Ward included in the post a quote that asserts that the issues facing poor Black people today are a function of “values and habits, not oppression from a manifestly unjust society.”

Ward described it as a “rather colorful time” in her life, adding that she stands by her actions and what she said then.

“I am a person who will stand up for what is right regardless of what the blowback is,” she said. “Even when people call me names unfairly.”

In her campaign announcement, Ward referenced one of the times she believes she was labeled unfairly.

“I publicly exposed a fellow board member who said the American Flag was ‘nothing more than toilet paper’ to her and who said I was the ‘21st century brand of the KKK,’” Ward wrote.

Ward also stated in her campaign announcement that she believes marriage is between “one man and one woman.”

“That we let marriage be re-defined as anything else is destructive to society,” she wrote.

This stance is in line with the Wyoming GOP’s party platform, which tends to be farther to the right than many lawmakers in the state legislature.

After her term on the school board, Ward ran and lost for Illinois Senate. The Democrat prevailed in the general election by two points, or roughly 2,000 votes.

If she’s successful in this race, Ward said she wants to ensure that Wyoming’s future nuclear power plants are fueled with Wyoming uranium and wants to see a cap put on property taxes. TerraPower, the company bringing the first nuclear reactor to Wyoming, said that future reactors could be fueled with the state’s untapped uranium reserves, but not in time for this first plant.

Ward would also like to put a property tax cap of 3% in place, just as Gray attempted to do during the 2021 session. Property taxes in many Wyoming counties have risen considerably in the last couple of years, putting the costs out of reach for many residents.

As of now, Ward will face Democrat Robert Johnson in the general election. Filing for the House districts close Friday, so there is still time for Ward to face a challenger in the primary.

Follow state politics reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis


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