Joe Barbuto voted in

Joe Barbuto, center, is the new treasurer of Sweetwater County following a 4-1 vote of the Sweetwater County Commission. He was joined by other candidates Meghan Jensen, sitting to Barbuto's left, and Mike Masterson, sitting behind him; and his wife, Erin Barbuto, on his right, at Tuesday's commission meeting.

SWEETWATER COUNTY — A 4-1 vote appointed Joe Barbuto to serve as the Sweetwater County treasurer. The Sweetwater County Commission made the appointment on Tuesday. He was sworn in and started work on Wednesday.

Following Treasurer Robb Slaughter’s resignation, the Sweetwater County Democratic Party put forward three nominees: Barbuto, Meghan Jensen, and Mike Masterson.

Commissioners Roy Lloyd, Jeff Smith, Mary Thoman and Chairman Randal Wendling voted for Barbuto’s appointment. Commission Lauren Schoenfeld voted against the measure.

Prior to the appointment, Barbuto told the commissioners that if he was elected, he plans to run for the position in 2022.

TREASURER CANDIDATES

The Sweetwater County Democratic Central Committee selected Barbuto, Jensen, and Masterson at their regular business meeting on July 15.

Barbuto and Dave Gray were the only ones who submitted their names for consideration prior to the meeting. Sweetwater County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jensen and Masterson accepted nominations from the floor during the meeting, and the vote reduced the candidates from four to three.

— Masterson said he worked at Stauffer Chemical before it became Ciner, where he learned management and accounting skills.

However, during the commission meeting, Masterson said he would not accept the position if he were appointed to it. When asked why he accepted the nomination, he said voters felt it was better to have three candidates who were active in the party.

— “I didn’t wake up any day in my life thinking I should be a county treasurer,” Jensen told the commission.

As the party chairwoman, she said she asked a lot of people to consider the treasurer position, but most told her to find somebody else or do it herself.

Jensen has management and finance experience from working in the food industry and running a concrete company with her husband. She said her family would be surprised if given the nomination, but she would be willing to do it.

— Barbuto said he started talking with Slaughter in May to get a feel for the job. He said he had management and leadership experience through his work in Wyoming politics and working at nonprofits.

COMMISSIONER DEBATE

The Sweetwater County commissioners expressed disappointment they they didn’t have three candidates to choose from who were all willing to do the job.

Commissioner Roy Lloyd said the voters deserve the best, and having a wide variety gives them the best options to achieve that.

The only requirements for county treasurer are to be at least 18, be a resident of Sweetwater County and not be a felon, but Lloyd said, “we know its much more than that” when it comes to practical experience.

Commissioners Mary Thoman and Randy Wendling indicated Masterson was their preferred pick, but as Wendling put it, if they selected him, he feared they would be voting on another appointment in two weeks.

Wendling said he was considering past election results and who would provide the smoothest transition. The commission chairman noted the strong Republican presence in past elections, and while Jensen has a lot of qualifications, in a transitional piece, Barbuto makes the most sense.

Commimssioner Lauren Schoenfeld said she also wanted her selection to reflect the voters’ will. She said since the public had not voted for Barbuto when given the chance in the 2020 commission race, she would not vote for his appointment.

When the commission did cast their votes, Commissioners Lloyd, Jeff Smith, Thoman, and Wendling voted for Barbuto while Schoenfeld voted against this appointment.

Barbuto said Slaughter had told him that the Treasurer’s Office felt like a family, and it is his goal to continue that tradition and the high level of service it is known for.

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