Mayoral Candidate: Joel Highsmith

(Shoshoni, WY) – County 10 has contacted all of the mayoral candidates across the County to ask them a few questions.

Joel Highsmith is running for his second term as Shoshoni mayor. With the exception of 20 years, he has lived in Shoshoni since 1962. He is retired.

Below is a Q&A transcript of our interview, which has been edited for clarity and length.

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County 10: How did you get involved in government?
Joel Highsmith:
Originally, in 2010, I had a city councilman reach out to me. There was a vacancy, and they asked me to apply for the vacancy. That’s how I originally got involved in government. 

C10: Why are you running for another term?
JH:
The big reason is we’re involved with quite a bit that we’re working on. We’ve started projects we’re working on finishing some of them. I know, like last night’s meeting, we passed three resolutions for requesting grants for our water system. One was for $1.13 million. The other one was for $580,000 These are approximate numbers. The other one was about $279-280,000. So, that’s part of it. We started the water project. We started on it when I first became mayor, and it’s time-consuming. Some people don’t understand all of the processes you have to go through to meet all the federal or state requirements for grants. We got to work through grants because the town of Shoshoni really doesn’t have that kind of money. To continue projects like that, I feel really need my guidance. If somebody else were to step in, there’s going to be a big learning curve. And they may or may not have the time available as I do to dedicate to the town of Shoshoni to do this. It’s a team effort, it takes everybody’s help.

C10: What is a challenge you’ve faced during your time as mayor?
JH:
There’s been several. When I was elected, even though I served on the council prior, I really didn’t have a real grasp of what I was getting into. I had a little bit of an idea, but it was much more complicated if I wanted to try to improve the town and work with our team to do that. It takes quite a bit of teamwork takes a lot of involvement, and the more involved I got, the more I needed to do. You know, we had our finances were in disarray when I became mayor. Our equipment was in very poor shape. Much of it needed upgrades. Our water system needs a lot of work and needed a lot of work, and we applied for that level one that showed that. As mayor, I get one vote, I can lead, but I must convince the rest of the governing body or at least two to move forward on a plan, so working with different members. And there are different ideas on how to accomplish that because the mayor gets one vote to move forward, and luckily enough, I have good council members that we could see and work together on a project.

C10: What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the town council this year?
JH:
We need to continue to work on our infrastructure, and that ties in with housing. We must have more housing in Shoshoni, and this is not only a countywide but statewide issue. Fast Lanes’ new expansion, they’re gonna hire more employees. Wyoming Mushroom needs to hire more employees. Without housing, it makes it more and more difficult for them to recruit people. So we need to continue on our west expansion on sewer, water, high-speed internet, and power that’s all part of that. And by doing that, we can develop housing. Those are the most important.

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C10: What is one thing you wish people knew about Shoshoni?
JH:
We are a great town. There are a lot of good people here, you know. We are a good place to live, a good place to raise your family, and more and more welcoming to people and business here.

C10: Anything else you wish to share?
JH:
There again, the town’s governing body, we’re working as a team moving forward so that we can have a planned growth we are developing our subdivision rules and regulations. We are changing, I believe statewide our image of the town of Shoshoni we are very proactive. The town has been cleaning up, and it’s noticeable to people that are driving through. We’ve received good comments from all around the state. But it takes a team to do that. And I would just like to say it’s we here in Shoshoni government, not me because mayors are just one man, one vote. He needs to exercise leadership. And part of that leadership is sharing his vision with the citizens and the town, and the rest of the governing body to move forward.

Additional questions and answers can be found here on the League of Women Voters Fremont County Primary Election Voter Guide.

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