Gary Trauner is running for John Barrasso’s seat in the United States Senate. Trauner visited Kemmerer on Tuesday, May 29. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)
Gary Trauner visited Kemmerer on Tuesday, May 30, as part of his campaign tour for one of Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seats. Trauner visited the Kemmerer Westmoreland mine and stopped by the Gazette.
“Like in so many of these towns in Wyoming that I’m visiting, coal built the community,” Trauner said. “But it’s a tough market, and that’s why I think it’s important to diversify our economy.”
Trauner, a Democratic candidate, lives in Wilson. He and his wife have two sons, aged 18 and 24.
“I’m not a professional politician,” Trauner said. “I think that’s one of our problems in D.C. Politicians want to hold on to power, and instead of doing what’s best for the people they represent, they do what’s in the interest of whoever’s financing them.”
Trauner served as the Chief Operating Officer of St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Jackson. He was also Board Chairman for Teton County School District No.1, and a vice chairman of the Teton County Pathways Task Force. Gary currently serves as Board Chairman for the Aspen Pines Water and Sewer District.
“My wife and I are regular people who are involved in our community,” Trauner said. “We need people in D.C. who are willing to visit with regular people in order to make public policy.”
Trauner ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2006.
“Sadly, the issues we need to address are the same as the last time I ran,” Trauner said. “That means something has to change.”
“It’s a hard choice to decide to run, but I’ve decided to enjoy it and give it my best shot,” Trauner said. “I’m extremely qualified, and I can show people that we can do things differently in Washington.”
Trauner said he enjoyed his tour of the Kemmerer coal mine. He has visited Kemmerer before for the Oyster Ridge Music Festival. He has also taken his kids to Fossil Butte National Monument and has worked with the school district and the hospital.
As a Democrat, Trauner said one of the things he would like to change in Congress is the culture of dismissing any ideas or conversations that come across party lines.
“Democrats and Republicas don’t talk to each other on the Hill,” Trauner said. “What I’ve learned in business is that if you have a good idea, you can’t afford to ignore it, no matter who it comes from.”
One of the main issues Trauner is running on is the need for health care reform, an issue he experienced as COO of the hospital in Jackson.
“I believe that everyone should have access to basic, affordable healthcare,” Trauner said. “Is that left or right? Conservative or liberal? It doesn’t matter to me, because it’s the right thing to do.”
Trauner said he knows healthcare is a complex issue, but he would use his experience to approach it responsibly.
“At the end of the day, people just want to know that they or their loved ones will get bettter; and I don’t think they should go bankrupt in the process,” Trauner said.
Trauner grew up in New York state but said he “got to Wyoming as fast as I could.”
“I love the outdoors and the wide open spaces of Wyoming,” Trauner said. “I’m proud of where I chose to live 28 years ago. What makes Wyoming special is the diversity of who we are and what we as a state have to offer.”
Trauner said he has enjoyed traveling to visit with Wyoming voters.
“I love seeing all the businesses and community colleges of Wyoming that I wouldn’t get to see if I weren’t running,” Trauner said. When asked what he would do first on the Hill if he beat incumbent Senator John Barrasso in November, Trauner responded,
“I would set the tone. Congress needs to be aligned with the people, and the only way to do that is following the same rules as regular people,” Trauner said. “I would also talk to as many Senators as I could. I’m an entrepeneur — I build things. I know how to bring people together to get things done.”