CHEYENNE – Over her past 26 years as a teacher, Michelle Aldrich has built a network of connections in Cheyenne.
Not only has she worked at Laramie County School District 1, Laramie County Community College and the Wyoming Department of Education, Aldrich also is involved with the Rotary and Zonta Clubs and has solid relationships with city leaders and elected officials.
With her finger on the pulse of the community, Aldrich is now shifting her focus to a run for the Cheyenne City Council in Ward 3.
“I really think that we can work together better than we can work individually. By bringing together all of the ideas, the best practices, the recent research and whatever resources we have available to us, we can be making decisions that benefit the entire community,” Aldrich said.
Though she knows the city’s recovery from the COVID-19 impacts will be tough, Aldrich said she’s a fiscal conservative, an out-of-the-box thinker and the wrong person to tell that something can’t be done. While Aldrich recognizes the value of Cheyenne’s amenities, she said they might have to go back to the basics until the financial situation improves.
If elected to the council, Aldrich said she wants to help make Cheyenne a place young professionals and young families want to live, regardless of the circumstances.
“We are a very well-kept secret – probably one of the best kept secrets in the Western region, actually,” she said. “But I think we can do better.”
One of the things Aldrich would like to see changed deals with city bus schedules. When she was teaching, Aldrich had a student who worked as a CNA for a nursing home in town and relied on the bus system to get there. However, the student would work until 10 p.m. some nights, leaving them no other option than to walk, regardless of the Wyoming weather.
“We have people in our community who need transportation seven days a week, not just six days a week, and who need to be able to access the bus after 6 p.m. on a weeknight because they work shift work,” Aldrich said. “If we really want to help people that are struggling to better themselves and their family’s economic situations, having reliable transportation is one of those pieces.”
To help make those positive changes, Aldrich said she’s ready to step up as a voice of reason on the council and as a leader that brings people together. She said dysfunction at city hall can easily turn off businesses or families that are interested in relocating to Cheyenne.
Aldrich said she’d work on maintaining positive, constructive relationships with fellow elected officials, nonprofit leaders and city department heads.
“I’m not really impressed by emotional flame throwing, if you will, and I think that these little temper fits and outbursts are more theatrical and don’t really produce a lot for the city,” she said.
As a member of the council, she also said maintaining a good relationship with her constituents will be a top priority. When a council member is out of touch with their constituents, Aldrich said they may end up voting out of line from what the people actually want.
Last time she ran for council, Aldrich knocked on 1,200 doors to speak directly with those she would serve if elected. This campaign season will look different because of coronavirus, but Aldrich already has a series of weekly meetings planned to talk with and get feedback from constituents.
“I want to hear from people all the time, not just when they’re really mad or upset. I’d rather hear from people on a regular basis and have them know that they have somebody who will listen to their concerns, who is involved in the community and is excited about living here,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich is one of two women running for a seat on the all-male Cheyenne City Council this year. The other candidates in the race for a Ward 3 seat are Rocky Case (incumbent), Mike Luna (incumbent), Shawn “Art” Funk and Richard Johnson.
“Voting for incumbents is great if you want business as usual. But if you want something new and different, it’s time to really put your vote where your where your mouth is and make a change,” Aldrich said.
Wyoming’s primary election is scheduled for Aug. 18, and the general election will take place Nov. 3.