(Riverton, WY) – County 10 has contacted all the mayoral candidates across the County to ask them a few questions.
Tim Hancock is running for Riverton mayor and has lived in Riverton for a total of 26 years. He is the Chief Deputy Fremont County and Prosecuting Attorney.
Below is a Q&A transcript of our interview, which has been edited for clarity and length.
County 10: What prompted you to run for mayor?
Tim Hancock: We had a group talking about different things we could do to improve the City. One of the topics that came up was that we felt we needed to have some new leadership at the helm. And that’s really what it came out of. That group became the committee for my election as the mayor.
C10: Have you served in a similar role?
TH: I was on the City Council from 2017 to 2020.
C10: What will you bring to the table as mayor?
TH: I’ve got a lot of experience in law. I’ve been a lawyer for 11 years, and mainly criminal law in that time, but I also have a Master’s in Public Administration that’s completely focused on running governmental agencies and governments. That’s basically the equivalent of an MBA but for the public sector. I completed that at UW. I’d say that one thing is education. I think another thing I could bring is I’m really someone who is much more interested, I think, in making sure people are listened to. That their concerns are addressed, that that we really are responsive as a government. That was something that I was focused on while I was on the council. We’re not there to be leaders, we’re there to be representatives. That’s just my attitude towards it. The other thing that I could bring to it is a matter of perspective. I think I’ve got a good idea of how government works and of what we need in the city. I believe one of the most important things we need to do is get and keep good city staff. We’ve had a couple of positions that have become vacant recently for a lot of different reasons, including just recently losing our city administrator and community development director not that long ago, but I think we can do a little bit better at making sure that we get and maintain just really good staff in the City. That is just a little bit about what I’m focused on. The other thing is, if you wanted to boil down my main focus as a candidate, we also need to make sure we keep our youth here. I’ve got five kids that we’re raising here. Not all of them might choose to stay in Riverton, but if they want to, I want to ensure that they have jobs, places to live, and places to do things. That’s a big focus of mine is making sure that the kids, the grandkids, we’re not just exporting them. We’re able to keep them around and have them be able to succeed here rather than having to go elsewhere.
C10: What changes would you like to see in Riverton?
TH: One of the big things that I think we need to do is be a little bit more data-driven when we’re making decisions about the economic growth and that kind of thing. We’ve really got some good staff, good people on board. And I think a lot of what we can be doing, rather than just kind of shooting from the hip every time we come to decisions, is trying to make sure that the decisions we make are based on data. A good example of that that we did while I was there was rather than just increasing the rates based on an approximate amount of the cost of living increase for the water and sewer rates. We actually did a rate study to determine how often we need to increase rates and where we need to increase them to ensure that we have the infrastructure and everything for water, sewer, and other services going forward. That was part of what we did while I was on the council; we did a rate study. I think that was good. Other changes that we would need to make, I think, also need to be based on feedback from citizens. I think sometimes that’s something that we’ve gotten away from. Sometimes there’s this idea that, oh, well, the council knows better than the people that are coming in and talking to the council. Well, I mean, they’re the people you’re representing. So I think making decisions based on that is an important part of what I think I would bring to the table. I guess maybe changes that are not necessarily going to change things. Sometimes it might end up being the same results. It’s hard to say but just making sure that any changes we look at are objective are also based on citizen feedback.
C10: What challenges do you foresee in making those changes?
TH: There’s always a little bit of a challenge when you’re talking about feedback from people. We need more people coming to meetings, right? We need to have people involved. We need to have people wanting to be coming and talking to the city council. And I don’t know that we always get that. But that is a little bit of a challenge getting people interested in making sure that all decisions we make are data-driven. Sometimes the data isn’t accessed or easy to get to. So it’s kind of having that willingness to invest a little bit into ensuring that we have good data. Same thing with the rate study that we had to do that costs a little bit of money upfront. Sometimes that sort of thing is going to happen. You’re going to have to invest a little to make sure that the decisions you’re making are the right ones for the town. But I think the payoff pays off. So I think there might be some costs involved. There might be less willingness for people to be involved in governance, but I think those are some difficulties that, you know, once people start to see they’re actually going to be listened to, right if they come to a meeting. I think that makes a difference. But I think it’s not insurmountable; insurmountable in terms of the challenges.
C10: What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing City Council this year?
TH: I definitely think Mayor Gard has kind of shown his hand that he really wants to have a strong mayor form of government. He worked on that last year; it came before the council. I think that’s going to be something we’re going to have to continue to discuss and determine whether that’s appropriate. I think it’s not. That’s just something I feel strongly about. I think probably, though, an even more important thing we’re going to have to address before that, but it’s tied into it a little bit because the city administrator position is one that depending on the form of government you have, you may have some city administrators that may be interested and some not. So really, I guess my point is, I suppose that filling that position of the city administrator is going to be the most important thing we’re going to have to face. A part of that is what kind of power the city administrator will have with respect to the council and the mayor. So those two things will be some of the biggest issues we’ll have to face over the next year. Getting a good person, keeping them kind of like I was saying before, making sure we find somebody that’s going to be right forever. Making sure it’s going to be somebody that’s going to be willing to and able to stick around long term.
The problem with just a strong mayor is that you have decisions that can be made; important decisions like who we have and if they’re going to be fired or not, they could be made without deliberation. And that’s the biggest problem I have with a strong mayor, is that you could have decisions that are made without any deliberation. It could just be kind of on a whim. Not that it will be. You’ve still got to have good people in the positions, but the nice thing about having a strong council, which is what we have now, a council administrator form of government, is that you’ve got that power in a council. And so it makes it so that there has to be deliberation before those decisions are made. There literally has to be discussion, there has to be voting, and talking. So I guess sometimes people have a hard time like, “Well, shouldn’t we be able to have decisions made fast?” The fast decisions are great, and they can still be made fast. But the point of it is to have decisions only made after some deliberation and careful consideration, and that’s what you get with a council that is the one that has the power.
C10: What is one thing you wish people knew about Riverton?
TH: I think the biggest thing I wish people knew about Riverton is it’s a great place. I know that sounds silly, but I think far too often when people talk about Riverton or talk about being from Riverton, I often get people that kind of act embarrassed or like it’s not something to be proud of. Riverton is awesome. We’ve got a lot going for us. We’ve got a lot of growth that’s coming this way, a lot of interest in the town. Simply put, Riverton is great. I wish people recognized it, believed it, and acted accordingly.
C10: Anything else you’d like to share?
TH: The biggest thing I want to share is that I strongly believe that we need to have people with integrity who are really interested in public service, and I think I’m the best person for Riverton for that reason.
Additional questions and answers can be found here on the League of Women Voters Fremont County Primary Election Voter Guide.
County 10 does not endorse any political candidate and strictly separates news from advertising. To learn more about political advertising with County 10 or to submit election news, click here.