Working with people, Ag experience leads Ellis to seek public office
Torrington – “We decided, with the situation in the country, we needed representation in the state from agricultural people, for one thing, and from people who have had experience in business and have been involved in their industry and the political side of it,” says northern Goshen County rancher John Ellis of the discussion and decision between his wife and himself to run for Wyoming House District 2 in the 2010 elections.
“I feel I have the experience, knowledge and ability to go down to the Legislature and be a benefit to not only the people in my district, but to the state of Wyoming,” adds Ellis.
“I’ve spent my lifetime dedicated to working for the benefit of the livestock industry,” says Ellis, noting he can’t remember how many years he’s been a member of and involved in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. He’s also been involved with the Wyoming State Grazing Board for 20 years, serving as district chairman and chairman of the state committee.
“I went to Washington, D.C. on a number of occasions to fight Bruce Babbit and the BLM when he was trying to take over our grazing rights,” says Ellis.
He lists the Torrington Airport Board, the Prairie Center Water District, Wyoming Farm Bureau, R-CALF and the NRA as other associations in which he’s involved.
“I’ve been deeply involved forever, and especially in the livestock industry,” he says. “That’s what’s important to me.”
Ellis was born in Hanna when his family ranched in Medicine Bow and has been in the ranching industry his whole life. He and his brother took over the ranch in 1969 when he was 24.
“It was a public land ranch, and we ran that until 2004, when we sold it and came to Goshen County and bought a private land ranch, so we know the difference between the two,” he notes.
When speaking of current issues in Wyoming, Ellis mentions money first. “I’m not running for the Legislature because I think the state’s done a bad job. I think they need people who can represent the state the way it’s been represented, and I want very much to keep Wyoming the way it is. I’d hate to see us in a position where we’re overspending, because that’s one thing we’ve worked really hard not to do,” he says.
“The main problem with our economy is that we’ve got too much government intrusion on our lives anymore,” he adds. “We can’t just secede from the Union, but if it comes up right, we can do things about it. I think we have to do it in small increments, but I think we can make gains in states’ rights, and I want to be a part of that.”
When speaking of wind energy development, Ellis says, “Absolutely, our private property rights are first and foremost. If someone has private property and wants to put windmills in, that’s his business. I won’t be very popular, but I’m not a strong advocate of wind power, because it’s driven by the environmental attitude of the country. The government has supported it, and I’d support it if it were a privately supported industry.
“I don’t understand how they can take a machine that costs that much and make it a viable source of energy that pays for itself, but I certainly believe that people have the perfect right to do with their private property what they want to, and that’s the way I feel about it,” says Ellis.
Of other state issues, Ellis says Lusk has a big problem with landfill issues. “They’re looking at having to haul their trash to Casper, and that needs to be looked at. I talked to a family in Saratoga, and they’re looking at the same thing, and so is Douglas. It’s a federal government-driven issue, and I feel like we should be able to decide on these things, and make our own rules and regulations to fit the communities. Our landfill issues are different than Chicago, New York or Denver, and it would be much better managed on a local level.”
“I feel the same way about educational issues. The closer we can get to local control, the better off we’ll be,” he says.
Regarding Wyoming’s wolf management plan, Ellis says, “I would not be in favor to ever bow down to federal government. We need to hang in there and do our own thing. The wolf is on our turf, not on theirs, so we need to maintain control. I think we ought to hold the course for a while yet.”
If elected, this would be Ellis’s first public office. “I’ve never been in public office before, and I’m not a politician by any stroke of the word. I do have a lot of experience working with people, and I have the ability to work with them,” he says. “I understand how to go to Cheyenne and work with people in the Legislature, and I understand how to get the job done. If I’m elected, I’ll go and do the very best job that I can.”
Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.