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Governor and First Lady meet with Pinedale constituents to discuss housing, energy, abortion rights, etc.  

Gov Gordon speaks with constituents in Pinedale.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media
Wyoming's Governor Mark Gordon speaks with constituents in Pinedale on Thursday, July 14.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon came for a meet and greet at the Wind River Brewing Company in Pinedale Thursday morning.

Dozens of Sublette County residents came out to speak with Gordon. Kyle Odermann, a local business owner, spoke to the governor about affordable housing.

“That's one of the things I worry about is that a lot of those great middle class jobs, or those little small businesses that could strengthen the economy, when you look at an area like Pinedale, it's the affordable housing that’s the key issue that we need to solve,” Odermann said.

The governor said that was something he heard a lot from Sublette County residents. The median cost of a home in the county is about 25 percent more than the state as a whole, according to a recent Wyoming Economic Analysis Division report.

“We're having a really difficult time finding housing,” Gordon said about what constituents were telling him. “There are so many people moving in that our assessed rates are going up. That's hurting our taxation and we need to be able to get our state moving again.”

Gordon said one way he would like to address this is by tackling inflation and lowering fuel prices. He is hosting a ‘Gas and Diesel Price Working Group’ on July 15 and July 22 with stakeholders to try to find solutions.

Sublette County is the state’s top natural gas producing county. Gordon said he would like to see that continue.

“Without sacrificing our legacy industry simply by improving how we do what we do, we can be an all of the above energy state and meet the climate requirements,” he said.

Gordon is referring to Wyoming’s carbon capture initiatives – the state has invested millions in the technology. However, many environmental groups do not believe carbon capture will help with climate change.

Paul Ulrich, the vice president for natural gas company Jonah Energy, attended the meet and greet. He said he wanted to convey to the governor the need for the state to continue supporting energy production.

“As everybody in Wyoming knows, if the oil and gas industry is successful, we're all successful,” Ulrich said.

Other issues people discussed with the governor were small business opportunities, as well as abortion rights. A small group held a peaceful protest regarding Gordon’s stance on abortion rights.

abortion protesters sit alongside street in Pinedale, with Governor Gordon in the background.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media
Abortion rights activists peacefully protested Governor Gordon's stance on access to abortion while Gordon held a meet and greet in Pinedale July 14.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, most abortions will likely be outlawed in Wyoming. Gordon first has to certify the trigger law, which has not happened yet but is expected to come later this summer.

“We'd love it if he might change his mind about that trigger law that he's planning on pushing through at the end of the month,” said Madisen Mitchell, who was at the protest and lives in Sublette County. “This affects all people everywhere. Women, we bear the children, but that doesn't mean that families wouldn't change as well by not having abortion care available.”

Gordon said he is still open to hearing from folks on the issue.

“This is what I love about Wyoming,” he said. “Wyoming people feel they can express their views. I pay attention to those, you know. This is a conversation Wyoming needs to have.”

Gordon added that Sublette County is one of the most rural counties in the state and that it can often be overlooked.

Along with Gordon’s meet and greet, the First Lady spent time assessing the food resources in Pinedale as part of her Wyoming Hunger Initiative.

“We'll be going to the community food bank here and the cupboard as well,” Jennie Gordon said. “So we're kind of doing the whole valley and seeing what services are offered and how we can support them in their mission.”

According to the initiative, 86,000 Wyoming residents struggle with food insecurity. The program provides financial support to local organizations to address the issue.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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