ROCK SPRINGS — Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar has learned a lot during his first term and he is ready to use that knowledge for another four years on the job. Demshar is announcing his candidacy for mayor and said he is running for re-election to continue making improvements to the city of Rock Springs.
Demshar pointed out that he has been involved in city government for over ten years, first as a member of the Rock Springs City Council and then as mayor when he was elected in 2011.
“Before that, I served on many boards and commissions,” he said. “I have always wanted to be involved in making Rock Springs a better place. Being a native, I have a vision for what I would like to help this city become.”
When taking office, Demshar said one of his first priorities was to bring the human resources function to the city.
“For an organization like the city, to have roughly 240 employees and no human resource function made no sense to me at all,” Demshar said.
Within a few months of taking office, the search for a human resource specialist was started, and the position was filled. As a result of having the human resource function, the hiring process for city employees has been streamlined, new employee orientations have been started and there has been improved coordination and understanding of the city’s benefit package with existing and new employees.
“The addition of the human resource function has been a definite improvement in how we do business as an organization,” Demshar said.
Dovetailing with the improvements brought about by the hiring of the human resource function, Demshar also wanted to focus on the organizational effectiveness of the city.
“From an internal perspective, I wanted to increase the organizational effectiveness of the city and how we do business on a daily basis,” Demshar explained. “Now, when a position is vacated, the department head has to justify why we should rehire for that position. If the City Council’s Sub-Committee decides to keep the position, the job description is evaluated to determine if we need to ‘raise the bar’ in requirements necessary for the position. By doing this, we have hired some exceptional people to work for the city of Rock Springs.
“This justification process also lends itself well to being fiscally responsible. If the position is needed, it is kept; if not, it is eliminated resulting in a more cost-effective and efficient organization in general.”
Demshar added that his past career in an industrial setting has assisted him in his day-to-day mayoral duties.
“I worked at FMC for 34 years and held several management positions,” he explained. “We focused on making the organization better by analyzing performance, finding ways to improve the system and planning for the future. I have tried to bring this approach to the city of Rock Springs. I think if you get to the point where you are happy with the status quo, complacency sets in. Then there is no progress and you quit moving forward.”
Rock Springs has changed a great deal since Demshar’s boyhood days.
“I remember Rock Springs with one city park -Bunning Park, with ‘Keep off the Grass’ signs there, and Kiwanis Field was also just a flat piece of dirt ground where we played little league baseball every weekday morning during the summers. It just amazes me to see the city now with over 20 parks and the Wataha Recreational Complex,” admitted Demshar.
With respect to the downtown area, Demshar wants to continue the redevelopment efforts. Demshar’s vision for the downtown area is to restore it to the prosperous, bustling gathering place it was when he was a child.
“I remember walking there and getting together with friends. It was a comfortable place to be, with people congregating and developing friendships with each other and business owners,” said Demshar.
An important part of revitalizing downtown is the city’s four-phase plan to develop Bunning Park and the properties around it, Demshar explained.
“The developments would definitely enhance the area adjacent to the park, provide additional parking and increase the diversity of the various events that could be held in Bunning Park,” he said.
Since Bunning Park has become such a great venue for many of the downtown functions, implementation of this phased approach will definitely be a focus and a priority moving forward.
The city’s Urban Renewal Association is also vital to downtown redevelopment according to Demshar.
“Our present manager, Chad Banks, is a natural fit for the position with his marketing background and experience in organizing events. I’m looking forward to helping rejuvenate the area with the remodeling of some buildings and the city hosting more and more community programs in the downtown area,” he said.
Demshar said he is happy to have been a part of one of the city’s biggest accomplishments to date-bringing the National High School Finals Rodeo to town.
“We partnered with Sweetwater County and the city of Green River to do what we needed to do to make it happen. When we started the process, there were some in the city who were critical and questioned why we were doing it,” noted Demshar. “It was always my feeling that if you had the opportunity and the resources to put your city and surrounding area on the national stage, why wouldn’t you do that? After hosting this event for the last two years, seeing an infusion of about $8 million dollars into the local economy and hearing all the positive comments about the city from these world-wide visitors, I believe we can all see the benefits of hosting a national event in our city.”
During his term , the city of Rock Springs has been active in sixth penny projects.
“We are committed to building infrastructure and making Rock Springs a better place to live. We have used the money from the most recent six penny tax initiative to make some significant improvements to roadways in our city,” Demshar said. “Opening the Stagecoach Extension allowed for improved traffic flows around the two new grade schools – Pilot Butte and Sage Elementary. Also, Sweetwater Drive near the White Mountain Library, has been improved by making it wider, installing curb and gutter and making it safer for kids to walk on it.”
Other six penny money is also being used to replace and update infrastructure in Rock Springs.
“We are in the process of completing a six million dollar expansion at the waste water treatment plant. This is much needed improvements and will help us absorb any population growth in the future,” Demshar added. “Overall, I guess the best way to summarize the importance of infrastructure projects is that it maintains the quality of life for citizens now living in the city while providing a platform for future economic development in the city.”
Another significant factor that needs to be considered as we plan for the future development in the city is the city’s Master Plan. Demshar said as we go through the budgeting process and plan future projects, all this work should be done using the city’s Master Plan as a backdrop.
“This plan will serve as a roadmap for future development of the city. It encompasses housing developments, parks and recreation, trails connecting various parts of the city, future business development and more,” Demshar said.
The mayor also said he has worked hard to re-establish a good working relationship with the regulatory agencies the city deals with on a regular basis.
“I believe we now have a solid, professional working relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency, the abandoned mine lands division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality,” Demshar said. “We meet on a regular basis with staff from the AML so that they can keep us apprised of their activities in the city. Having this information is beneficial when we get calls from the general population wondering what is going on in certain areas. The AML folks keep us informed as to what they are doing and we provide necessary resources to help them with their projects when needed. It is a good solid relationship right now.”
Another thing Demshar brought up during his time as mayor is he has been challenged by the city maintaining basic services in the face of declining revenues.
“Because of this situation, we have taken a conservative approach to our budgeting process. We call it the operation and maintenance mode,” Demshar said. “Our challenge is finding the right balance between providing basic services while trying to do projects that will enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the city and keep the city moving forward. With the Budgeting challenges that we have faced, credit must be given to the department heads who have stepped up and provided budgets that are lean and take into account our conservative budgeting philosophy.”
Another test in being the mayor of Rock Springs has been more of a personal note. “Finding the right balance between my personal and political life has been important,” Demshar Acknowledged. “In trying to make a decision as to whether I should run for reelection, my family and I have had several discussions about finding this balance. However, after all these discussions, my family has encouraged me to run, because they are proud of what I have accomplished.”
“Another significant impact on my decision to run for re-election was when my lifelong friend Glenn Sugano passed away unexpectedly last fall. Glenn’s passing really got me thinking about how things can change in the blink of an eye. I found myself wondering if I should spend my retirement days as the mayor of Rock Springs or leading a life of leisure,” confessed Demshar. “In the end, I decided there is more I want to accomplish as mayor, and the fact that I enjoy the job is a real plus. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror and say at least I tried to make a difference.”
In conclusion, Demshar said he is proud of being a Rock Springs native as well as serving the citizens of the city as their Mayor.
“When Governor Matt mead is here, he always says it is a pleasure to be in town because we always have something exciting on here. When I volunteered at the first high school rodeo, I visited with people who had come to Rock Springs from all over the country and also Canada and Australia. There was one common thread – everyone said the community was so accommodating and friendly and what pleasure it was to be staying here,” Demshar said. “Those comments filled me with pride for this city, the many volunteers and the people who live here. It is comments like this, coupled with what we’ve been able to accomplish in my first term, that I have made my decision to seek re-election to the office of the Mayor of Rock Springs.”
Press release provided by Carl Demshar