[PODCAST] Governor Mark Gordon Chats About Economy, Cannabis, and Culture Wars in Wyoming
Governor Mark Gordon stopped by the Townsquare Media building in Casper to talk on the Report to Wyoming podcast.
We chat about many things.
We first address that he is a girl dad, and his advice to all you other girl dads out there is this: "Listen a lot."
"Every child is different, and certainly my two daughters--I always refer to them as 'yum and yuck'--whatever one liked the other didn't."
He and his wife Jenny are grandparents now. They have two granddaughters--twins who are very different, he says--and they're about 18 months old now.
The Gordons recently got two new chocolate labs, and so every morning around 3:30 a.m. he lets them outside and then has to figure out how to wrangle them back into the house.
"They're wonderful dogs, high energy." We commiserate over protective furniture coverings.
It's no secret that being a governor can be a bit overwhelming. Governor Gordon says that even so, "the opportunity to be in this position at this time in our state is a wonderful privilege and I hope I do it to the best of my ability every day. It's not the thing I want to do for the rest of my life." He says he looks forward to being with his grandkids and his cows more. But until then, he is determined to serve Wyoming to the best of his ability every day.
"I feel very strongly that Wyoming is at a tipping point with a lot of excitement going on. I'm very thrilled that our economy is diversifying. More and more people are starting to think that it's a place that I'd like to raise my family, it's a place I'd like to grow my business."
He's hopeful that kids that are growing up and graduating are also seeing opportunities for them here in Wyoming.
"We're working very hard to make sure our coal and oil and gas industries remain relevant. I think they will and that's just a fact of the world situation at this point."
Gordon says that "Wyoming represents a frontier that allows them to do things they probably couldn't do anywhere else."
He said keeping track of our state's solid values, freedom, open space, strong family ties and independence are the greatest challenges we have going forward.
In terms of diversifying the economy--and it is diversifying, it's the most diverse it's been in fifty years, says Gordon--it's critical to maintain the right to develop Wyoming's minerals.
He said that it's also key to develop energy on all fronts. Wyoming has essential oil and gas, an abundance of coal, and no shortage of solar and wind power.
"Wyoming has a potential to store thousands of years of our current CO2 emissions, if we can just capture them" he continued, which is why the government has invested so much time and money into the endeavor.
We end up chatting about water, WOTUS, and other EPA regulations.
I asked Gordon how he feels about cannabis, and he said that while he is willing to look at medical marijuana, he is not in favor of recreational marijuana for the state of Wyoming.
"Colorado particularly bothers me in the sense that over the years, you can look at Colorado, and gradually, the downtown got a little better, but it's since gotten worse, it's really sad to see kids sleeping on the streets."
In closing, I asked the governor if he feels we spend too much time as a state worrying about culture wars.
"I grew up in a state that was really focused on the future, thinking about what we could do to make Wyoming better. You had these pioneers who had great visions about my little town, Kaycee," he said.
"In the last couple of years it seems to me that someone else is setting our agenda, and that really concerns me. When I see issues brought up that aren't really part of Wyoming, it's fine to be aware of them, but they're not driving what's going to make life better for people in Wyoming, and so I do worry that we are responding to national issues. And again, I don't begrudge anybody being concerned about those issues, and I think its appropriate they should be brought to life, but I also realize that for some, there are organizations making their money off of promoting national issues, so they have to make everything a crisis because that's when people send money to fight these things. So we end up doing a lot of shadowboxing."
He hopes we can focus more on economic diversification, education, and making sure families feel safe in Wyoming more than we do national agenda items.