Natrona County officials take oath of office

2011-01-03T23:00:00Z 2011-01-04T00:23:56Z Natrona County officials take oath of office

By TOM MORTON

Casper Star-Tribune

The Billings Gazette
January 03, 2011 11:00 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Three Natrona County commissioners and six of seven countywide elected officials took their oaths of office at the Townsend Justice Center on Monday.

“This is one of the few very pleasant duties (done) by the judge,” Natrona County District Court Judge David Park said.

He congratulated them for their willingness to step into the political ring and make the decisions affecting the county's future for the next four years, he said. “Some are minor; some are major with long-lasting impact.”

Park also offered them some political advice from President Eisenhower: “'People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, except morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.'”

He invited the commissioners and elected officials to form a row in the front of Courtroom 1A, administered the Wyoming' constitutional oath of office, and shook their hands.

The entire ceremony took all of about five minutes.

The county elected officials sworn in are all incumbents and all Republicans: Assessor Susan DeWitt, Clerk Renea Vitto, Coroner Connie Jacobson, District Attorney Mike Blonigen, Sheriff Mark Benton, and Treasurer Tom Doyle.

Clerk of District Court Gen Tuma was in Cheyenne attending the inauguration of Gov. Matt Mead and will be sworn in later.

The commissioners are Democrat Terry Wingerter and Republicans Bill McDowell, and Rob Hendry.

Incumbents Wingerter and Hendry were re-elected in November. Voters chose newcomer McDowell over Republican incumbent Barb Peryam.

The other commissioners are Republicans Ed Opella and Matt Keating, who are beginning the third year of their four-year terms.

After the ceremony, McDowell said Natrona County voters return so many of them to office because they apparently approve of their performances.

“They recognize that the public officials are doing a pretty good job of running the county,” he said.

Voters tacitly follow Eisenhower's advice and want their leaders to govern by consensus, McDowell said.

Unlike the Casper City Council, the commission is partisan according to state law yet the only partisan decision that he will make will occur if a state representative or county official leaves office, he said.

“Natrona County is not represented by the divisiveness on the national level,” McDowell said.

Contact Tom Morton at 307-266-0592 or tom.morton@trib.com.

First meeting

The Natrona County Commission's first meeting of the new year is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today on the second floor of the old courthouse.

According to their agenda, commissioners will elect officers, conduct two public hearings, consider contracts, and name appointments to county boards.

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