Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

Students question candidates at Worland event

 

September 22, 2018

Marcus Huff

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Throne and County Commission Chairman terry Wolf spoke to Worland Middle School students on Friday.

WORLAND – The Worland Middle School hosted two candidates from the two major parties on Friday, to take questions from students and explain their partyies' platforms.

Marty Throne, Democratic candidate for governor, and Terry Wolf, Republican county commissioner, represented the two parties and fielded questions for over an hour on a variety of subjects.

Thorne addressed the students first, explaining how she worked as a state legislator to decrease standardized testing in schools, and stressed her platform as a candidate for governor to make sure health care would be a basic goal, to help ensure education prospers.

When explaining her party affiliation as a Democrat, Thorne said that she's "not much of a labels person, but is running to get things done."

"I don't care if an idea is Democrat, or Republican," said Throne, "I just want things to work."

Wolf began his presentation with a brief statement from Republican candidate for governor, Mark Gordon (Gordon could not attend), and stressed community involvement to the students.

"It doesn't matter what age you are," said Wolf, "it's important to do what you can to learn and contribute to how things work."

A 1987 graduate of Worland High School, Wolf encouraged the students to educate themselves on the issues, each party and the candidates running for election.

As a county commissioner, Wolf related to the students that "you can make politics fun and learn to enjoy making decisions that help your community."

"If you try to please everyone you're not doing your job, "said Wolf, "but you realize you can have a positive impact when you talk to people face-to-face."

Lastly, Wolf advised the students to "treat others as you wish to be treated," both in life, and when considering politics.

THE QUESTIONS

During the question and answer period, the first question from a student was what the state could do to better treat mental health issues.

Wolf replied by explaining the program currently used in Washakie County, where Title 25 patients are sent to the Lighthouse facility for rehabilitation and monitoring, rather than the state hospital. Wolf also stressed working directly with families to help people find the treatment they need.

Throne explained that due to a loss in mineral revenue, the state has a hard time offering services, and an expansion of Medicaid would help by providing federal money to problems, like mental health issues and treatment, within the state.

One student asked why there are not equal sports teams for girls in school, for example, a separate wrestling team just for girls.

Throne explained that Title 9 ensures equality for students, but suggested that students approach the school board if they have a suggestion or recommendation.

Wolf answered the question by reminding the students that the largest problem is school funding, and that not all schools, especially in Wyoming, have enough students to support a large variety of teams.

When questioned about the future of school budgets in the state, Throne replied that the state needs to look at stable funding, outside of oil and gas revenues.

Wolf agreed, and explained that Wyoming's "boom and bust" cycles enabled the schools to do things they couldn't have done otherwise, but the state needs to diversify its economy to prepare for the downtimes in mineral wealth.

On the subject of whether teachers should have guns, Wolf explained that times have changed since Wyoming students traveled to school with their hunting rifles, but believes a trained staff could be beneficial to student safety.

"Training is the key," said Wolf "whether the solution is security officers or military veterans employed by the schools, they must be trained."

Throne related that the topic had been debated many times in the Legislature, and finally it was left up to the individual school boards.

"Keeping you safe to learn is the obligation of the adults," said Thorne. "I believe we need more counselors to identify and help troubled students, first. I can't think of any teacher I would want to arm, because they are here to teach. It really has nothing to do with the Second Amendment."

Asked if video games should be allowed on school computers, Wolf and Throne both agreed that games at school are in conflict with learning, and not a priority.

"I grew up with the evolution of video games," said Wolf, "and sometimes played until my thumbs were sore, but really what you need is to get outside and learn things. Do things with your friends."

When asked what Wyoming can do for gay and transgender rights, Throne replied that all students are guaranteed an education, and that her father taught her "you have to neighbor."

"Leaders set the tone," said Thorne. "They have to stand up for all people and that will filter down to the schools."

Wolf noted that he didn't have the perfect answer to the question, but that all people should be treated as equal.

"When we try to fix something, we stand the chance of alienating someone else," said Wolf. "Like I said before, everyone should be treated like they would like to be treated."

When asked their favorite part of being a candidate for office, Wolf replied that it was a great way to learn.

"You can't go into this with an agenda, you have to make a positive difference," said Wolf.

Throne answered that it was events like the one at the school that she enjoys the most.

"This lets me know what is important to you, and where you live," said Thorne. "And that is why we do this."

 
 

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