Chris Knapp has been appointed to be the new representative for state House District 53.
Campbell County Commissioners interviewed Knapp, Terry Sjolin and Josh Dillinger at a special meeting Monday afternoon, and Knapp was selected on a 5-0 vote.
Knapp, a local business owner who served three terms as county commissioner, will replace Roy Edwards, who was running for reelection unopposed and died the day before the general election.
“I appreciate the commission’s vote of confidence,” Knapp said after he was selected. “I look forward to meeting with you and making sure we represent the commissioners’ needs.”
All three of the applicants said Wyoming’s tax structure is in need of a change and they support spending reform.
“It comes back to, what do you do with government when times are good? You’re tempted to expand government when times are good,” Knapp said.
That government expansion has led to cuts having to be made this year, and Wyoming needs to get back to providing the services that it needs and can afford, he said.
With the state’s education budget, Dillinger said there’s “easily $100 million” that can be cut without affecting students.
“I even could go further and say within the $400 million that we’re short, I wouldn’t say that’s a completely unrealistic lift for our Legislature to take on,” he said. “Will it hurt? Absolutely. Will some folks lose their jobs? Yes.
"But I think when you look at the fact that other industries across the state have had to do that … it’s education’s due diligence to do their part.”
Knapp said it’s important to give individual school districts the opportunity to make their own cuts.
“We need to have the people in place that self-govern, that take a look at their own situation, their own budget, and say, ‘Here’s where we know we can cut, and here’s where we think we can cut but it’s going to cause some pain,' he said. "And we need to get away from political decisions and start focusing on the realities of today."
Sjolin said the state not only needs to cut, but look at other sources of revenue.
“We can only cut so much, and I’m hoping we can cut quite a bit this year, but at some point revenue’s going to become an issue,” she said.