(Lander, WY) – County 10 contacted all the mayoral candidates across the County to ask them a few questions.
Monte Richardson is running for his second term as Lander mayor. He has lived in Lander since 1976 and is retired.
Below is a Q&A transcript of our interview, which has been edited for clarity and length.
County 10: How did you get involved in government?
Monte Richardson: When I retired 13 years ago, I got on the city council. I was first under Mayor Mick Wolfe, he was very good to work with. And then Mayor Del McOmie was a mentor, and he kind of showed me the ropes and stuff that was going on. I’m still learning, and you’ll never quit learning, hopefully. Del McOmie was great to work with. Couldn’t ask for a better mayor to work with. And then he said, “I’m not going to run.” I said, “you think I can handle it.” He said, “you bet.” So this is my first term as mayor, and I’d like to get another round at it.
C10: Why are you running for another term?
MR: The reason I’m running for another term is so we can keep the city running. I think you just get in one term, you get things figured out, and guess what? It’s time for another one. And I think once you get things figured out, you’re pretty stable, and you can move forward with another term and keep things going. We have got so many projects going on here, you know. We have got $30 million worth of projects going on, and we need to make sure they are continued and finished.
C10: What is a challenge you faced during your time as mayor?
MR: COVID. It’s been different. You know, when I started as mayor, we had the gas in the river my first month. And it just kept on going. Something every month happening. I think COVID has really sent us for a loop. We don’t know how to deal with it. We’re in a pandemic. We’re still in a pandemic. How do we deal with it? How do we keep moving? How will I keep my employees safe? How will I keep my family safe? I mean, COVID has been tough. How are we going to feed them? Is it ever going to end? Probably not. We’re going to have to learn to live with it. But it’s scary times out there, and people are afraid. Mental health is a big thing. We’ve got to deal with mental health during this time. And I mean, my phone rang quite a bit with a lot of people who were worried and asking what do I do? Then we have got Russia over there starting a war and gas prices going up, and people can’t afford it. I’ve noticed more bicycles. It’s just really hard to maneuver everything we had to do and close the City Hall down, but we kept people working. I think that the only things we closed down were our gyms and haircutting places because the governor ordered that. We never shut the businesses down. I know people struggled, but they made it through by doing car hop-type stuff. COVID is really tough.
C10: What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing city council this year?
MR: I think what’s going to be pressing is finding funding for infrastructure, and getting our infrastructure fixed is going to be one of the biggest things, and then it’s the budget. It seems consistent that we have issues with trying to keep the budget going and alive and keeping people working. When I took over the budget, our general fund carryover was $245,000. Now, we’re at $3.1 million. That will run us maybe 10 months.
C10: What is one thing you wish people knew about Lander?
MR: That we are a kind and caring town. We really are. People get upset at different things, and then once you talk to them and calm them down, they understand. Everybody’s emotions are out there right now. But I think once we get the communication back, and we’ll get people out there and being enjoyable with each other. The pig roast is one of the things that we produced last year with 1,800 people, it’ll double this year. And we’re not just doing this for Lander. It is for Fremont County as a whole and statewide, too. I mean, we need to work on mental health and get people back out and start making Lander again. And I think Lander is just a wonderful place to raise a family. We have good people here. We have good, understanding people. I think we just need to step back and all take a breath and move forward with being kind.
C10: Anything else you wish to share?
MR: I just want to work on our mental health. Fremont County is one of the highest in the nation for suicides, and I’ll do whatever I can on my part. We just need to really make sure that people are safe and are fed and we’re taking care of our own. When you’re the mayor, there’s a lot that to really think about, and you can’t choose sides. You’ve got to be out there and open to the public. My door is always open.
Additional questions and answers can be found here on the League of Women Voters Fremont County Primary Election Voter Guide.
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