Jun 9, 2016

South Fork business owner running for commission

Park County may not be subject to all the burdensome government rules and regulations as some other places, “but the control’s still there,” says Republican county commission candidate Boone Tidwell.

“And if anybody’s going to try to make a change, it’s going to occur here,” Tidwell said. “It’s going to happen in a small place like Cody, where you can make a difference.”
Boone Tidwell

The South Fork resident and bail bonds company owner said he’s “beyond believing that my future or my grandkids’ future is going to be repaired by Washington, D.C. (and) I’m beyond believing it’s going to be repaired by Cheyenne, Wyoming.”

Tidwell said he’s prepared to put in the work and training needed to do regular county commission business — like setting budgets and working with employees.

But more importantly, “I feel this gives a man like me a podium in order to raise the awareness of the Park County citizen as to the things we’re discussing here,” Tidwell said in a recent interview.

Those things include pushing back against federal overreach, improving government communications and ensuring strict adherence to the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions.

Tidwell said the Big Horn Basin has a lot of resources it can’t touch because of federal rules. He suggested local governments should stop accepting federal money and its strings in the same way that “a good (heroin) junkie goes to rehab and figures out how to detach himself from that.”

Tidwell wants people to think about what Park County and the broader Big Horn Basin community might do if there was a major, national crisis. For example, “are we prepared for an event such as a dollar collapse?” he asked.

Tidwell also sees room for improvement in the relationships between the county commission and the municipalities of Powell, Cody and Meeteetse and believes he could foster better communication. He suggested commissioners should regularly attend town and city council meetings.

Tidwell also wants to bridge the gap between citizens and their government through constant communication.

“I want the people that I represent to know exactly what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how it affects them and then let them pick their resolution,” Tidwell said, saying he would be a “true Constitutional representative.”

“I’m always open to a better idea,” he said, adding, “The only thing I will never sacrifice is my obligation to my oath” to defend the Constitution.

(Tidwell’s one-line summation of the Constitution is, “you can’t harm anybody and you can’t take their stuff.”)

“I want the people that I represent to know exactly what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, how it affects them and then let them pick their resolution,” Boone Tidwell said.

A Vietnam War-era Navy veteran who’s traveled the world, Tidwell later spent two decades as a San Bernardino County, California, sheriff’s deputy in roles that ranged from patrol to detective.

Tidwell left law enforcement in 1994 and went into the bail bonds business two years later.

In 2004, San Bernardino authorities charged him with various crimes that primarily alleged he and his employees had paid inmates to solicit business for the company.

The case dragged out for more than six years. Tidwell said he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending the allegations (which he says were “all bulls—”) and never received an arraignment or preliminary hearing.

In 2010, Tidwell reluctantly agreed to plead guilty to five misdemeanor charges and received a fine and unsupervised probation, according to past reporting by the San Bernardino Sun. After completing his sentence, Tidwell asked a judge to dismiss the convictions from his record and that request was granted, he said.

“If I’m guilty of something, I’ll raise my hand,” Tidwell said. “I was absolutely not guilty.”

He moved to Park County in 2006 and made alternatives to incarceration — such as GPS monitoring — his focus. Tidwell initially mentored some other bail bonds companies then started his own, Freedom Fighters, about two-and-a-half years ago.

Tidwell said being a businessman has made him a fiscal conservative; he believes governments shouldn’t spend more money than they take in and should operate as much like a business as they can.

He’s one of six Republicans running for two available seats on the Park County Commission.

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