Joe M. Barbuto – D

Sweetwater County Board of Commissioners
Joe M. Barbuto – D

Joe M. Barbuto

Listen below to an interview with the candidate and SweetwaterNOW

Tell us a little about yourself.

My family has been in Sweetwater County for quite some time. I’m the fifth generation to call this community home. My great-great-grandfather Louis Sather came to Rock Springs in the late 1800s in search of opportunity – which he found in a coal mine. That job paved the way for him to start a family, open his own business, and create a good life in Sweetwater County.

Louis’ story motivates me in this race. That sense of Sweetwater County being a place full of opportunity for hard-working folks is something that we need to recapture.

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Professionally, most of my background is in strategic planning, organizational development, and leadership development, primarily in the non-profit sector. I continue that work today as a consultant. From 2008 to 2013, I represented House District 48 in the Wyoming State Legislature, which included a large portion of Sweetwater and Fremont Counties. As a State Representative, I worked on several committees and was elected to fill the role of House Minority Caucus Chairman.

That combination of experiences has prepared me well to be a County Commissioner. I’ve worked on budgets ranging from a few thousand dollars to several billion. I understand how to build and maintain strong, productive coalitions. And, perhaps most importantly, I know the importance of strategic planning and how it should be organized and executed successfully.

My wife, Erin, works in public education as a manager at Head Start. In our free time, we really enjoy spending time gardening, camping, exploring the Red Desert, fishing the Green, and searching for historic homesteads with our two dogs, Chapter and Molly. You can often find me making music with other local and regional musicians, too.

What do you see as the most important issues in your candidacy and how will you address them?

We’re at a crossroads in Sweetwater County. The industries that we have depended on for decades to provide revenues and jobs are in decline. There’s no question as to whether it’s happening, but we do need to decide if we’re going to react to these changes or start planning. I’m for the latter and I think most other folks are, too.

Working with stakeholders from across the county, I will put together a coalition of individuals to have a comprehensive discussion about where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow and the years to come. These stakeholders, which will include other elected officials from local government, industry leaders, educators, health care professionals, small business owners, and any and everyone else who wants to be a part of the process, will begin the process of creating a detailed and goal-oriented strategic plan for this county. There good ideas out there that we need to tap into – this process will allow that to happen.

I’m also passionate about creating more opportunities for folks to be involved in the decision-making process. Most people can’t make a Tuesday morning meeting in Green River – that being the case, it is incumbent upon the commissioners to take what of the process they can to the people. As a commissioner, I’ll hold workshops and presentations in the communities in Sweetwater to discuss the draft budget and other important proposals in order to solicit more feedback from the people we serve. I will, of course, invite other county commissioners to join me in that endeavor. It’s a simple, but really important step that needs to be taken.

Those who have been paying attention also know that I’m a strong admirer of our public lands. I didn’t realize how unique our access is until I went off to college and visited other places around our state and nation. Our wide-open spaces and the opportunity we have to utilize them is a big part of our identity in Sweetwater County. It certainly improves the quality of life in a way that many people will never experience. Making sure we keep that access and that these lands remain in public hands will be a priority – I will be a champion of public lands.

Here’s the deal – too often, elected officials limit themselves to only doing what’s outlined as their duties in the statutes or other governing documents. That gets us nowhere. I want to be a new kind of Commissioner that treats those outlined duties as a starting point. This position can be expanded to take a much larger and more active role in economic development and diversification, addressing quality of life issues, improving access to and the efficiency of local government, and serve as an ambassador and spokesperson for this county. That’s what I look forward to doing when I’m elected.

How can voters contact you?

They can find me on Facebook at or by visiting

Via both methods, folks can find contact and messaging information, request a sign, become a campaign volunteer, and make a financial contribution to the effort.