Candidates in primaries for the Wyoming House of Representatives are running unopposed. Democratic Reps. Mike Yin and Andy Schwartz will also likely run unopposed in the general election. Republican Bill Winney should face off against Independent Jim Roscoe come November to represent House District 22. — Billy Arnold
Mike Yin, Democrat, House District 16
State Rep. Mike Yin is running to keep his seat after a first term that saw him win respect from fellow lawmakers and sponsor a number of bills, including one to tax unoccupied homes.
“I want to make a difference for my community and make sure that my community’s voices are heard in the rest of the state,” Yin told the News&Guide. He said he sees a second term as “basically a continuation of the first term into the second term to make sure that Wyoming knows that Jackson has a voice in the Legislature.”
Yin, a Democrat and Wyoming’s first Chinese-American legislator, sponsored eight bills in 2019-20. The unoccupied homes bill was one, but Yin also sought to bring Wyoming’s minimum wage in line with the federal minimum wage, give pharmacists permission to prescribe contraceptives, revise net metering laws, prevent discrimination against pregnant workers and ban “’yote whacking,” a practice where people run down and kill coyotes with snowmobiles. Yin also made a name for himself as a politician with an eye for detail in a legislative body that’s older and more conservative than he is.
“From what I’m hearing in the halls,” Sen. Mike Gierau, another Teton County Democrat, told the News&Guide in 2019, “he has in short order become a real head-of-the-freshman-class kind of guy that is getting a lot of bipartisan notice.”
Bill Winney, Republican, House District 22
Perennial candidate Bill Winney, a Navy veteran and Republican from Bondurant, is back on the horse this year, running unopposed in the primary to address three priorities: education, the state budget and preserving multiple use of public lands.
The state is projecting a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years, and Winney said bringing things back into balance would require a mix of cutting spending and increasing revenue. The candidate, who managed budgets for the Submarine Launched Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program and the Sea Lance ASW Standoff Weapon, said he would like to start on the spending side, but carefully.
“We’ve got to be careful about ‘reducing expenditures,’” he said, “because that’s probably going to mean real people, either being furloughed or losing jobs.
“You can’t cut your way out of it,” he said.
On the revenue side of the equation, he said he doesn’t support an income tax but could get behind an expanded sales tax because it doesn’t bring bureaucratic overhead and “it’s not that difficult to change later on.”
Winney also said that in the state’s dire financial situation it’s vital to “protect the classroom” (teachers and other supporting staff) but he thought cuts, if needed, could come from administrative overhead.
Andy Schwartz, Democrat, House District 23
Teton County’s senior state Rep. Andy Schwartz is running to keep his seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives, where he sits on the House Appropriations Committee. That position, he said, is critical, especially as state revenues plummet.
“I can help do good things for the people of Wyoming as we make statutory changes and deal with the budget,” he told the News&Guide. “It’s time to have a serious conversation about what does the future of Wyoming’s tax structure look like.”
Schwartz, a Democrat, owned retail businesses in town, served on the Teton County Board of County Commissioners for 12 years and was first elected to the state House in 2014. He has sponsored bills advocating for a real estate transfer tax and reforming local housing authorities, among others, and emerged as a staunch advocate for Medicaid expansion.
Expanding the public insurance program for low-income people is particularly important to him as the state addresses the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think that’s one of the most important things we could do to protect citizens,” he said. “If you lost your job, you lost your health insurance.”