Mar 29, 2016

Cody school board chairman running for commission

An appraiser who currently chairs the Cody school board is running for the Park County Commission.

Jake Fulkerson of Cody said Monday that his nearly eight years on the school board — and two decades of experience in banking — have readied him to help the county government through the tight budgets ahead.

Jake Fulkerson
“I think we have a great county and, man, we’ve just got some hard decisions to make. I think I can add value,” Fulkerson said. He added later that, “I just think my background with larger budgets and difficult times ... lends itself to complementing the existing commissioners.”

The 57-year-old Cody Republican spent 20 years in banking. The last five were on the senior management team at Shoshone First Bank, where he helped oversee around 200 employees and a $20 million budget.

On the Cody school board, Fulkerson has helped administer a roughly $30 million budget with around 400 employees.

He’s chaired that board for the past three years. His service has included working through a “rough” budget a few years ago, where the district had to cut employees.

Fulkerson said he’s picked up experience that would carry over to the county, such as speaking to the media and running public meetings. A controversy over proposed reading materials erupted in the Cody school district last year, including a tense meeting last May that lasted until around 1 a.m.

“Meetings like that prepare a guy for a wild meeting with the county commissioners,” Fulkerson said.

Although he has “really enjoyed” his time on the school board, Fulkerson decided he was going to leave his post when his term runs out in December. He wasn’t sure what was next, but it was suggested he look into running for the commission. Fulkerson said he’s talked with friends, regularly attended the commission’s meetings this year and met with each of the commissioners — becoming “more and more excited about moving forward.”

“So I’m not ready to stop serving the county yet,” he said.

Fulkerson knows he still “has a lot to learn” — specifically mentioning the county’s system of roads and bridges and a new commission-led initiative that will make recommendations about how best to manage the McCullough Peaks and other public lands.

“I just think my background with larger budgets and difficult times ... lends itself to complementing the existing commissioners,” Fulkerson said.

Fulkerson said he doesn’t have any big changes in mind for the county and said he’s “real impressed” with the current commissioners.

He’s owned and operated QM Appraisal since 2005.

Fulkerson previously lived in Nevada and Arizona, moving to Cody in 1999. He’s served in Rotary, on the Cody Economic Development Council (the predecessor of Foward Cody), the Cody High School Boosters and spent three years on the city of Cody’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board.

The Park County Commission seats held by Republicans Lee Livingston and Bucky Hall are up for election this year. Livingston has said he’ll seek re-election to a second term; Hall — who's finishing up his third four-year term on the commission — has indicated he will not seek re-election.

The filing period for the partisan commission seats officially opens on May 12.

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