Roscoe becomes 2nd independent legislator


JACKSON – In a country that often seems

cleaved in two, Jim Roscoe challenged the hyperpartisan

divide to become Wyoming’s second independent

state legislator, and the first in 40 years.

Roscoe, the next representative for House District

22, which covers parts of Sublette, Teton and

Lincoln counties, said that “in Wyoming you used

to be able to think for yourself.”

After two terms representing the district as a

Democrat a decade ago, he chose to forgo party

support this time in hopes his nonpartisan approach

would appeal to voters.

“It worked out just as I had hoped,” he said. “I

think people were receptive to that. Going door to

door there was a very negative response to our divided

country because of party politics and being

put into a box.”

On the list of independents in the state Legislature,

Roscoe is preceded only by William

Holland, who represented Johnson County from

1971 to 1978, back when legislators were elected

by county.

Roscoe trailed his opponent, three-time incumbent

Marti Halverson, in Lincoln and Sublette

counties. But he clobbered her in Teton County,

drawing nearly three times more votes in his home

county – the highest percentage margin of any

race. All told, the Wilsonite won 2,495 to 1,983.

Even in the other two counties, Roscoe held

his own, trailing 179 to Halverson’s 204 in Sublette

and 935 to 1,269 in Lincoln.

He has lived in both Teton and Sublette counties

for years, and owns a construction business

with offices in both. But in Lincoln County, Roscoe

didn’t have many connections, so he made an

effort to campaign in the area, visiting towns like

Star Valley Ranch and Freedom.

“I did a lot of work down there,” he said.

Roscoe believes the flagship issues he ran on,

public lands and education, won him the race. He

said his objection to transferring federal lands to

the state, along with his desire to modernize Wyoming’s

education revenue stream, resonated with

voters throughout the district.

He sees certain natural resources, like lithium

and trona, as viable options to fund schools at the

current level. He added that such development

must be done responsibly “on our own terms and

environmentally sound.”

“I think there’s a lot we can do on the minerals

front,” he said, “and on the energy front.”

He also said he supports Medicaid expansion

and believes counties should have authority over

whether to collect lodging taxes and how to distribute

them.

He said he respects Halverson’s service over

the past six years, particularly on mental health

issues, for which he hopes to “carry the torch.”

With the election behind him, Roscoe plans to

do some hunting and prepare for office again after

a six-year break. As an independent, he faces new

dilemmas this time around.

For example, he said, both the Republican

and Democratic parties have invited him to caucus

with them, though he isn’t sure which he’ll

choose.

He also has to figure out which committees he

will sit on. Membership is generally balanced between

Democrats and Republicans to the extent

possible, and the state tries to include both parties

on every committee. But as the only legislator

without a party, he’s unsure how he’ll fit in.

“Where,” he said, “do you put this odd duck of

an independent?”


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