At the conclusion of the BOCC's meeting to select a temporary commissioner, Chairwoman Haswell had some remarks that struck me for their inconsistency. You can hear them for yourself here. The statements that gave me pause come at the 2:10 mark. The statements are remarkably inconsistent, and this is how:
1. The Chairwoman stated: "...that the Board takes this elected position very seriously." If this were an election, that might be a valid position. However, it is not an election. This is an appointment of a temporary vacancy to be filled until the next general election. The appointment process is provided for by law in the Wyoming Statute, Title 18-3-524. Again, this process is called "Appointment to Fill Vacancies", not "ELECTION to fill vacancies". The board met for the sole purpose of choosing from the three nominees put forward by the Sheridan County Republican Party, in accordance with the process laid out above. The selection of a nominee to fill the temporary vacancy is mandatory. So, while they may take the position seriously, do they also take their mandate to obey the law seriously?
2. She went on to say, "While we appreciate everyone's courage for throwing their name in the hat, it does not automatically mean they are qualified." It is not in the board's purview to determine if the nominees are qualified. It is the electorate's purview. At the end of the day, who on our BOCC has a degree in public policy or administration?
Frankly, it is deeply insulting to tell the three people whose names were put forward that they are not "qualified" to serve on the Board of County Commissioners. Again, the Wyoming Statute (18-3-501) is very clear on the qualifications to serve on the Board of County Commissioners. It says: "In addition to the other residency requirements imposed by this section, each county commissioner shall be a resident of the county in which the county commissioner serves, beginning on the first day of the term and through the last day of the term for which the county commissioner serves." There are no other qualifications other than having been chosen by the electors of the county.
3. And finally, she closed with: "These candidates were not supported by Sheridan County voters. We would not be doing our job if we selected one of these threes [sic] that were not supported by the county." So, we'll have the district judge appoint a temporary commissioner from any qualified elector who puts their name forward with the Clerk of the District Court? Judge Darci Phillips gets to pick, not the electorate? As you can see, this undermines the Chairwoman's earnestly stated desire to appoint someone who is supported by the Sheridan County voters.
The three nominees were chosen by the electors of the Sheridan Wyoming Republican Party in a meeting open to the public. As it so happens, the three nominees finished 4, 5 and 6 in terms of votes received for the open BOCC seats in the last election. So, in fact, the Chairwoman is incorrect. You may see for yourself the primary election results from the 2022 primary elections here. As you can see, the next three highest vote totals were for Jennings, Arzy and Helferich. That shows they were, in fact, supported by the Sheridan County voters. If Allen Thompson had not run, it is entirely likely one of these three would have won a seat. The reality is that none of these three were supported by the BOCC. That is not germane or relevant. The BOCC failed to perform its duty, it assumed powers it does not have, and it is usurping the will of the electors and is now, apparently, violating state law.