May 13, 2016

Northrup seeking re-election to Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming is in the midst of a bust that’s “hitting us pretty hard,” says state Rep. David Northrup. “I feel like I have the experience to be able to help navigate our way through it.”

That’s one of the reasons why Northrup has decided to ask voters to elect him to a third term in Wyoming’s House of Representatives.

In officially announcing his re-election bid on Wednesday, the Powell area Republican said his years of accumulated knowledge of the state and the local area are assets as Wyoming faces a drastic drop in revenue from decreased mineral production.

David Northrup
Northrup specifically cites his background in education. He served on the Powell school board for 12 years before joining the Legislature and has co-chaired the Legislature’s education committee since early 2015.

“I think I have an enormous amount of knowledge about how that works and where we can work the (education) system and try to make things better,” Northrup said.

By education, he means not only K-12 schools and the University of Wyoming, but also institutions like Northwest College.

Noting recent cuts at NWC, Northrup said Wyoming’s community colleges have “taken a pretty big beating” in recent years.

“We need to be sure to keep the community college system whole, not be cannibalizing it,” Northrup said. “It seems like at this time some of them are actually cannibalizing themselves to keep themselves running and ... that tends to be the end of a school when it gets severe.”

Funding for the state government — and education in particular — is largely dependent on natural resources and the production of oil, natural gas and coal have all slowed. Coal leases have funded the bulk of the recent construction of K-12 schools across Wyoming and many major coal companies are now in or on the verge of bankruptcy.

Northrup said he’s always been an advocate for low taxes and “we’re going to find out how well that’s going to work out in this next (Legislative) session, because at some point, we have to figure out how to fund schools.”

He said the budgetary impacts of this bust are going to be felt even more strongly in the coming years.

“This is going to be a downturn for everybody,” he said.

In a news release announcing his candidacy, Northrup says his work as a farmer and rancher has given him experience with complicated financial situations and he said his “conservative nature” will help the state.

He also said he enjoys the work and enjoys representing the people of Park County.

“It’s hitting us pretty hard and I feel like I have the experience to be able to help navigate our way through it,” Northrup said.

As for legislative accomplishments, Northrup points to a bill he helped pass in 2015 that allows people to drive some agricultural equipment without a commercial driver’s license.

Northrup said people didn’t want to go through the whole licensing process and its bookkeeping requirements just to drive a beet truck for a month during the harvest. Relaxing the licensing requirements has made it easier for farmers to find drivers and it “really has helped the ag world a whole bunch,” he said.

Northrup is wrapping up his fourth year in the state House.

Mike Specht, a Clark Democrat and the owner of a firefighting business, has announced he’s also running for the seat.

The district is made up of the eastern part of the city of Cody, Clark, Ralston, Heart Mountain, the Sunlight and Crandall areas and the Willwood area, where Northrup lives.

“It has been challenging at times to be everywhere at once,” Northrup said. “Sometimes I feel like I want a Star Trek transporter so that I can be in one place and then just materialize in another one almost instantly.”

His past public service also includes stints in the leadership of the Park County Republican Party (he’s currently vice-chairman) and time on the boards of both the Willwood Irrigation District and the Willwood Light and Power Co-op.

Northrup graduated from both Powell High School and Northwest College before completing his education at Montana Tech. He and his wife — Northwest College Associate Professor of Engineering and Mathematics Astrid Northrup — have three grown sons and two grandsons.

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