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Courtney Johnson
Courtney Johnson, a Park County elections clerk, discusses absentee ballot procedures Monday with voter Zac Holmes. More than 3,100 Park County voters have already returned absentee ballots.

CODY — As voters across the country cast ballots in today’s midterm elections, Park County voters will choose state and local leaders ranging from governor and state auditor to county clerk and city council members.

A total of 3,166 ballots had been returned Monday to the Park County Clerk’s Office, according to election clerk Courtney Johnson. In the November 2008 election, 4,146 absentee ballots were received by the close of balloting.

Wyoming residents are unlikely to share the spotlight with battleground state voters in deciding the balance of power in Washington, D.C. But the race for governor reflects two trends common in some high-profile national races — a write-in candidate and energized Tea Party activists.

Joining Republican Matt Mead, Democrat Leslie Petersen and Libertarian Mike Wheeler on the ballot for governor is independent Taylor Haynes, a write-in candidate endorsed by the Constitutional Party and the Wyoming Patriot Alliance. He also has strong support among Tea Party members.

Many Park County voters are likely to be paying special attention to another statewide race, as Republican Cynthia Cloud of Cody runs unopposed for state auditor.

One prominent local Republican has crossed party lines to support a Democrat in another statewide race, as Sen. Hank Coe, chair of the Senate Education Committee, has endorsed Democrat Mike Massie for superintendent of public instruction.

One of Wyoming’s longest-serving state senators, Coe said Massie is “the most qualified candidate for the position” and that “education is not about being a Republican or a Democrat.” Massie faces Republican Cindy Hill.

Coe also joined two other Park County Republicans in endorsing County Clerk Kelly Jensen, a Democrat who is seeking re-election to a second term.

Coe, County Commissioner Bucky Hall and Cody City Council President Sam Krone endorsed Jensen in her race against Republican challenger Jerri Torczon, saying that party affiliation was not a key factor in choosing a county clerk. Jensen also was endorsed by Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat.

Torczon was endorsed by County Commissioner Bill Brewer, a Republican, and Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, for whom she worked as a secretary when he was mayor of Gillette.

Loren Grosskopf, Joe Tilden and incumbent Tim French, all Republicans, face Democrat Faith Wicks and Libertarian Penny Gail in the race for three county commissioner seats on the five-member board. Brewer and Republican Jill Shockley Siggins, both incumbents, were defeated in the August primary election.

Cody and Powell each have two contested city council races. All positions are nonpartisan and cover a four-year term.

In Cody’s Ward 1, incumbent Jona Vanata faces challenger Donny D. Anderson.

In a race for an open Ward 2 seat in Cody, Bryan Edwards faces Paul E. Rankin, who ran unsuccessfully two years ago for mayor, and who has previously served on the Cody City Council.

In Powell’s Ward 2, incumbent John F. Wetzel faces challenger Mark S. Senn, who has previously served on the Powell City Council.

In a race for an open Ward 3 seat in Powell, Myron Heny faces Timothy A. Sapp, who ran unsuccessfully two years ago for mayor, and who has previously served on the Powell City Council.

Nonpartisan candidates in Cody and Powell are seeking election as trustees to hospitals in their respective districts. The race in Cody has focused around a planned expansion project, while the Powell contest features several write-in candidates.

Seven candidates are competing for four seats on the seven-member board of Cody’s West Park Hospital. Incumbents Graham Jackson, Jeff Parsons, Carol Lea Roberts and Peggy Rohrbach have all expressed support for the current expansion plan, while challengers Donald Bentzen, Adair Bowlby and Michael Bree have said they have unanswered questions about the project.

In Powell, seven candidates compete for five seats on the seven-member board of Powell Valley Health Care, where electronic medical records and discussion of a possible expansion plan there have been campaign topics.

Incumbent Larry Parker is running unopposed for a two-year seat. Sharea LinDae MoAn-Renaud appears on the ballot, but has withdrawn from the race. Incumbent Jim Beukelman and challenger Renee Humphries also appear on the ballot as candidates for four-year seats.

Write-in candidates for four-year seats are Jim Carlson, Virginia Fish, R.J. Kost and Henry Yaple.

Six candidates are competing for three four-year seats on the Northwest College board of trustees. Powell District incumbents Carolyn Danko and Jim Vogt face challengers Kim Dillivan, Rick LaPlante and Sharea LinDae MoAn-Renaud. Cody District incumbent John Housel runs unopposed.

Wyoming law requires that employers give workers one hour of paid time off, other than meal breaks, to vote on Election Day.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

For more information, call 307-527-8620 or visit www.parkcountyelections.net.

Contact Ruffin Prevost at rprevost@billingsgazette.com or 307-527-7250.

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