This featured story was paid for by Vote Wendling.
The recent primary elections took an interesting turn this year. Although Randal ‘Doc’ Wendling, one of the candidates for County Commissioner, had withdrawn from the race weeks before the vote, it was too late to remove his name from the ballot. After the votes were tallied, however, Wendling still walked away with over 1600 votes.
Hearing the news, many friends and supporters encouraged him to reconsider joining the race. He had initially withdrawn because he received information that he could not run for County Commissioner if he was putting his name in the hat for Sweetwater School District #1 Board Member. After speaking with legal counsel and other officials he was informed that he actually could run for both offices. After receiving that information, ‘Doc’ Wendling has announced his campaign for both County Commissioner and Board Member of SCSD #1.
We sat down with Mr. Wendling recently to speak to him about his campaign and to learn more about him.
Mr. Wendling, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Where do I start? I am a native of Southwest Minnesota and earned my undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State College in St. Cloud Minnesota. I then taught for six years while completing my Masters of Education from the University of Wyoming. I also received my Education Specialist and Education Doctorate Degrees from University of Wyoming.
After receiving my Masters, I continued working in education for the next 32 years until my retirement this past year. During that time, I served as a school administrator in Scottsbluff, NE; Cody, WY; and Upton, WY, but was a high school principal in Rock Springs the last 20 years.
Can you tell us why you withdrew your candidacy for County Commissioner and then chose to run as an Independent after the primaries?
Absolutely. In short, I withdrew my candidacy because I was given advice that there was a possible conflict between the two positions that I was running for. Although I have decades of experience with this community and the school district, this was my first foray into local politics – I wanted to make sure I was following the rules. After a strong showing in the polls during the primary election, I was given the encouragement to look into the situation further based on the significant and enthusiastic public support.
What I found is that State statute “prohibits occupying two elected offices when one provides funding for or receives funding from the other.” To me, the purpose is logical and reasonable, to prevent one public office from having financial control or dependency on another, affecting the sustainability and independence if that funding were withheld. When looking at both positions of SCSD #1 Board Member and County Commissioner, the commissioners do not have financial authority over the school district nor vice versa. I believe the commissioners do not provide funding for the schools out of their budget. Sometimes grants are received or situations occur that need to be signed off on by the County for due diligence, but it would be simple to abstain my vote if there is any question at all that a conflict existed on an issue. Running for both offices does not pose a conflict for me, because I view it as an opportunity to serve in both capacities and bridge the avenues of communication, which would only be positive and helpful.
As far as returning to the race as an Independent, I was informed that because of my prior withdrawal I could not re-enter the candidacy for County Commissioner under my previous registered party. Simple as that.
Do you feel that you can make the time for both positions, if elected?
Yes, I do. I not only have the time, but I have the energy and commitment. The majority of public offices are held by individuals who work full-time and also serve their community in their elected roles. Being retired, I have the ability to make both positions my “full-time” commitment and can use the flexibility of my hours as an advantage – engaging with the community, agencies, and businesses during the day to observe this County in motion. Not to mention, I have also spent the last two decades involved with the local school district and so will not need to be “brought up to speed”, in that regard. I am deeply motivated to use my time and experience for the benefit and betterment of the community that I call home. With over 20 years experience in Sweetwater County education I have a unique and detailed insight into the perspective, needs and concerns of our County’s families, which will be of benefit to both positions.
Why are you running for office?
I have been fortunate to enjoy and be blessed with good health, a high level of energy, and now that I am retired – time. As valuable to me as my education is, of even greater value have been and are the life lessons from my own and others’ experiences as a parent, educator and administrator. Working with teachers and students I have learned a lot over the years. It has given me a first-hand, personal view into law and the effects of regulatory procedures; the demands and stresses on faculty and other employees; the conditions of our public schools and the educational process; the delicate task of budgeting in the light of competing demands; and perhaps most important, a close up view into the needs, expectations, concerns and worries of children and their families – our community. What the SCSD #1 Board does affects our County; likewise, the decisions made by the County affect our families. Far from being a conflict, occupying a position on both will allow me to use that insight and experience to promote an understanding and informed partnership between the two entities.
I want to minimize conflict and do some “bridge-building.” Our County needs to work together towards common goals and purposes. I am grateful to be able to continue making use of what I have learned over the years to join with others in achieving something worthwhile for our corner of the world, and this is how I want to do it. I wish to help in these efforts, but it is not my wish in the end that will hold forth. It is the Sweetwater County voters whose wishes and votes will determine our course. I look forward to engaging with voters in lively dialogue and as always, will respect their wishes.
I have and will continue to promote an open door policy. Voters from all walks of life, any party, any business – I encourage you to contact me with any questions.
Would you like to share a bit of your personal life?
Sure, why not. My lovely wife Carol and I are the proud parents of two sons, John and Beau, who are both graduates of Rock Springs High School. John and his wife, Angie, were both graduated from the University of Wyoming and recently presented us with our first grandchild. Beau, a graduate of Chadron State College, is a successful businessman, providing financial and insurance needs for patrons throughout Wyoming and neighboring States. Like many folks around here, Carol and I enjoy being outdoors – fishing, hunting, golfing, and spending as much time as we can with our families. Our friends, interests and loyalties are here – Sweetwater County is our home. Thank you for taking the time.