Smith, Nathan Election MUG

CHEYENNE – Nathan Smith has joined the crowded Republican primary race for two open seats on the Laramie County Board of Commissioners.

“I’ve been contemplating running for a while,” said Smith, who is the investigations coordinator at HollyFrontier Refinery.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in public service, I just didn’t know what. But I have a passion for Laramie County. I think my background and life experiences – business, construction and agriculture – comes together so I can have a good understanding of the big picture.”

That’s what the county needs, he said. “Someone who can step back and look at the big picture,” added Smith, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming.

When the Republican primary election happens next month, the top two candidates will advance to the general election, where two seats are up for grabs.

If Smith wins one of those spots, he said he wants to make life in Laramie County better, not just for people his age, but for future generations. Diversifying the local economy is one of the ways he wants to make that happen.

“One of the main things I think we need to look at is our economic development,” said Smith, who’s been thinking about the following questions: “How do we continue to grow – and grow responsibly? How do we continue to encourage job-producing, taxpaying businesses to come to the county and create good jobs for those residents who are looking for something, and for our kids who want to stay here?”

Smith has seen firsthand the downside of relying too much on one industry, through his work at HollyFrontier, which recently laid off dozens of employees.

“We have lost a lot of jobs that didn’t make the paper – in Cheyenne and eastern Laramie County – that are getting cut, as well, due to the downturn of oil and gas. I don’t think we should put all of our eggs in one basket.”

Smith knows that some of those problems have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s only reiterated those points.

“We need to continue enticing businesses to come to our county,” he said. “With all of the unrest and turmoil in other cities, I think there’s going to be a lot of companies looking for what we have to offer here – the benefits of safety and protection that they want.”

Smith, who grew up working in his parents’ small business and identifies as a fiscal conservative, said his long-term plan is to keep taxes low – but not at the expense of investing in projects that could help realize his economic vision for the county.

“Taxes do have a specific purpose,” said Smith, who cited the county library system as one example of tax dollars well spent. “I do think that we sometimes pay a little more than we should, but who doesn’t feel that way?”

Kathryn Palmer is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s education reporter. She can be reached at kpalmer@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3167. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynbpalmer.

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