Two vie for Worland mayor


October 29, 2020

The Northern Wyoming News will be profiling candidates of local and state races over the coming weeks. Each candidate has been sent the same questions.

This week the NWN is profiling Worland mayoral candidates. Mayor Jim Gill is seeking his second term as mayor. Keith McDonald accepted a write-in nomination following the primary election to challenge Gill for the four-year term.

The general election is Nov. 3. Absentee ballots are available now for those wishing to vote that way rather than go to the polls.

Those wishing to register to vote may do so at the Washakie County Clerk's Office until Oct. 19. Persons may register at the polls on Election Day.

Next week Worland City Council candidates will be profiled.

Jim Gill

How long have you lived in Worland?

My wife, Connie and I have lived in the Worland Community for the past 45 years. We raised two children here, Chris and Carey. They received a good education here in Worland and have both moved on to successful careers.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

I was employed with the University of Wyoming Extension Service for 36 years. I started out as an Assistant County Agent in Big Horn County and ended my career as the University Extension Educator for Washakie County and as the Big Horn Basin area crops specialist. The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees granted me "Extension Educator Emeritus Status" at the time of my retirement. I opened and operated the "Gill Plant Company Business" and helped diversity our plant community with different trees, shrubs and other perennials for several years here in Worland as well. I was a substitute bus driver for Washakie School District No. 1 for 10 years, retiring from that this fall.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor's degree in plant science, majoring in crop management. I grew up on a farming and ranching operation in Hidden Valley between Riverton and Shoshoni along the Wind River and above Boysen Reservoir. I graduated from high school as a Riverton Wolverine.

Why are you running for Worland mayor?

I wish to be re-elected as Mayor of Worland, because I love our city, the people who live here, and especially the fine folks who make up our work force. One needs skills in human relations, financial management, researching articles, conducting meetings and so much more. We have been challenged with river flooding due to ice jams, major water breaks, the COVID-19 Pandemic, revenue concerns, decline of our business community, employee matters, ordinance updates and so forth.

Unlike my competitor, I started from the bottom so to speak. I threw my hat into the ring to be considered for an appointment, the council selected me and I served five years as a City Councilman for Ward 1 before deciding to run for mayor in 2016. My council experience was a definite plus after becoming your Mayor.

I can tell you that I feel proud of my civic contributions made with others hand in hand to better our community. One of the proudest moments I have had serving as your Mayor was back in my first year when we had that major February Flooding Event from Ice Jams on the Big Horn River near the river bridge. The parking lot out at the Washakie County Fair Grounds was jam packed with volunteers filling sand bags for hours at a time. It was a Worland Proud Moment even though it brought heart ache to those affected at the time.

Do you feel you have the time it takes to serve as the mayor of Worland?

Yes. I have the heart, stamina, ambition and yearning to continue to serve as your Mayor for another 4 years!

What do you feel are the duties of the mayor?

Providing strait forward, goal oriented and organized leadership for the citizens of the City of Worland is key to the success of any Mayor. I believe in an old adage that "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". I'll bank my past successes with that in mind. Being available when duty calls is certainly an expectation that I would hope folks who have depended on me for an answer would agree with. Being able to effectively conduct meetings, to work through employee challenges, being able to right a wrong that can happen occasionally are a few things that come to mind.

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Worland, and how would you help to address it?

I think the most important issue facing Worland is showing growth and vibrancy. Growth as a City is important both physically, and intellectually. If a city is not growing, it will not remain relevant to those who can help it succeed into the future. At least, this is the most important issue in my estimation. Worland or the County for that matter has never had a plan for growth. I think the

Washakie Development Association can and has done as much as any given group to move this issue forward. WDA and the City worked together diligently to attract and work with Bomgaars to solidify their decision to invest their business here.

Keith McDonald

How long have you lived in Worland?

After my father, Major Harold McDonald, retired from the Army. He moved the family to Worland in 1975. I was 4 years old. I graduated from Worland High School in 1990 and entered the US Army as an infantryman. I returned to Worland in 2008. A grand total of 27 years.

What type of work do you do, and where do you work?

I own and operate K&S Trucking based in Worland. I started the business in 2000 and built it up to a multi-truck operation with 16 tractors and drivers, 22 trailers and five lease operators. We specialized in transportation of heavy equipment throughout the United States and Canada. As a veteran owned business, I was able to earn a contract with the Department of Defense and was responsible for transporting sensitive items, machinery, tanks, light armored vehicles, and munitions.

Due to the economic downturn in 2009, I downsized the company and now run one truck, hauling for Admiral Beverage Corporation in Worland. I also provide transportation consulting services for multiple international companies.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from WHS in 1990. After military service, I attended Northwest College in Powell where I earned an associate degree in wildlife biology. I also attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie where I studied wildlife biology.

Why are you running for Worland mayor?

First, let me clarify why I chose not to enter the mayoral race prior to the primary. As one of the owners of Stogie Joe's restaurant, my primary focus was on the pandemic and determining the best and most viable options for the restaurant and more importantly our employees and the economic impact on all parties involved. Shortly before the primary, we were presented with the opportunity to sell the restaurant to the Brazells and we moved on that option.

Upon notification that I received enough write-in votes during the primary to enter the race and having resolved my concerns that our business venture would be in very capable hands, I seized the opportunity to enter the race.

I am running for mayor for several reasons. I have a strong family tradition of service to my country and a deep seeded desire to serve at the local level. I feel a strong commitment to this community, where I was raised, and I want my children to inherit that same desire for service and commitment. I want our children to have a desire to stay in this area with their families and continue our way of life.

Do you feel you have the time it takes to serve as the mayor of Worland? What do you feel are the duties of the mayor?

I have the experience, humility, energy and drive, and I possess the leadership skills and patience necessary to lead our community through the coming post pandemic and associated economic downturn. I have a vision for revitalizing downtown Worland and I'm sure there are many in the community who remember how that area used to thrive and will gladly come along side to help make this vision a reality. I believe that Worland has much to offer business and industry and I will take the lead in actively recruiting those entities seeking the prosperous opportunities that this community can offer.

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Worland, and how would you help to address it?

I feel strongly that the decisions made for our community relative to the pandemic and the economic impact on these businesses was not vetted properly. The inherent challenges that small businesses face is of a sufficient magnitude and the associated burden placed on the people they employ should warrant a great deal more consideration and diligent planning. I will bring a level of passion and commitment to this position that ensures that every possible avenue has been properly vetted and our community is positioned for the most advantageous outcome. The community deserves an elected official that will value their input in these critical situations.


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