Natrona County Republican officials from House District 59 on Wednesday selected three candidates for consideration to fill the position vacated by Rep. Bunky Loucks, who resigned last month.

The job was easy for the precinct committee people from the district including Mills and northeast Natrona County because they had to choose three candidates, only three applied, and they're the three who are running for their party's nomination in the Aug. 18 primary.

The precinct committee people from the district unanimously voted to forward the names of David Carpenter, Leah Juarez and Kevin O'Hearn to state GOP officials, who then will send the names back to the Natrona County Commission.

The five commissioners will meet next week, interview the three candidates and appoint one to fill the vacancy, which will be filled until Dec. 31.

So one will have a slight advantage of incumbency over the other two when the primary occurs.

Tuesday's meeting, run by Natrona County GOP Chairman Dr. Joe McGinley, started with procedural matters before having each candidate give a two-minute opening statement.

Each candidate was asked three questions with two-minute responses while the others were sequestered.

After that, they gave closing statements.

In his statements and responses to questions, Carpenter said his business experience has trained him to manage his time. He's aware of the immense time the job will take for not only the legislative work, but for listening to his constituents.

The Legislative Service Office will help him with the information he will need as a legislator, he said.

The 18th century economist Adam Smith stands as his greatest political influence because of his theories about free market economics, Carpenter said, adding he only wanted to study politics and not enter it, but he believes it's time for new ideas.

Likewise, Carpenter said his platform is based on the primacy of individual liberties, and the government is to protect individual sovereignty.

O'Hearn referred to his long military and business careers that have given him people and leadership skills.

He's been preparing for the appointment by talking with Loucks, studying and more recently watching the Joint Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs Committee on YouTube.

O'Hearn saw how its members talked, compromised and considered a road usage charge to cover for revenue losses to the Transportation Department. "The road usage charge would put a chip in each vehicle to show where those vehicles on private land or public or state highways."

He cited President Ronald Reagan who said if a problem can be solved, it should be solved at the lowest level, however President Donald Trump is his most influential political inspiration.

Juarez cited her business experience working at the Casper Events Center and for Allegiant Air, her influence with the Mills Town Council to keep its fire department, and as the owner of a small business.

Juarez pointed to Republican Rep. Pat Sweeney, HD58, who was in the audience, and said he is her most influential political inspiration.

Regarding the role of government, she said that depends on the situation. In March, she was told to shut down her business as part of the effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not receive any financial assistance for two months

One of her best traits is working with people with opposing viewpoints, she said.

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