CHEYENNE – Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wilson is fighting to keep her seat in the state Legislature’s House District 7.
The Republican lawmaker, whose district includes large parts of Cheyenne and represents one of the highest concentrations of state workers in the state, was first elected to serve in the Wyoming Legislature in 2012. This year, she will face Cody Haynes in the Republican primary, the same opponent she beat out in 2016.
As the state braces for dramatic budget shortfalls, some induced by COVID-19, Wilson wants to make clear that she will advocate for her local voter base.
“I am aware of the effect the state’s financial picture is going to have on people in my district who are state employees,” Wilson said. “I think the important thing is to realize that in Wyoming we have been fortunate enough to have a lot of public services. State employees are doing what we’ve asked them to do, which is provide services. If we decide that we don’t want, or can’t pay, for so many services, that’s not the fault of the employees. We need to do the best we can to find the balance between the services we’re willing to pay for and expect public employees to do three times the work just because we don’t want to pay for (adequate staffing).”
In addition to standing up for state workers, one of Wilson’s other big priorities is expanding access to adequate health care in the state. Wilson, who this past session chaired the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, helped push through a bill to create a statewide school nurse position.
“I’m really hoping to be able to make more headway on access to health care and the number of providers, but we have to keep chipping away at it. We have a lot of great providers, but being so rural, it’s something we’ve got to keep working on,” said Wilson, who studied health care administration and policy as a graduate student.
In Wilson’s view, the pandemic has only amplified the need for prioritizing those services.
“This could happen again in a few years,” she said. “We need to continue working on enabling the state to train more health care providers, to make sure the hospitals and the clinics and provider officers are financially sound and able to provide care.”
Wilson, who worked at a private school for years before entering public office, said she’ll also be following the Legislature’s upcoming conversation on school finance. Right now, Wyoming public schools are funded largely through state mineral taxes, but those funds are becoming less and less reliable as the industry declines.
Lawmakers are under increasing pressure to forge a solution.
“It’s time for us to evaluate a funding model that was developed in the 1990s,” said Wilson, who added that she’d like to the state to better explore technological learning options that weren’t available 20 year ago. “As we’ve all seen during COVID-19, the need for better distance learning activities have become really obvious.”
Wilson said that neither her lawmaking style nor her campaign platform are tied to a singular mindset.
“I just really try to look at the problems and situation and figure out the best way to address them for the best results,” Wilson. “That’s no necessarily a big shiny theme, it’s just a lot of hard work.”