Looking to legislature, Geis supports Washakie County and agriculture
Worland – Gerald Geis has been involved with livestock for many years, but today, he continues supporting the agriculture industry in the Wyoming Legislature.
“My family bought a livestock trucking business in 1944,” says Gerald. “It was a family livestock trucking business until the early 1980s.”
Gerald ran the family trucking business for the next three years, while his brothers went separate directions.
“I was never really in agriculture. I spent 53 years with the trucking company,” he says. “My brothers have ranched and raised livestock.”
He began driving truck when he was 14. Gerald notes that after more than 50 good years, producers started buying their own trucks, so he sold the business and went a different route.
Following his term in livestock trucking, Gerald says he worked road construction for McGarvin-Moberly Construction for 10 years.
However, he also began to get involved in the political structure of Worland.
“In 1967, a group of my friends in Worland drafted me to be councilman for Ward Three,” he says. “Then in 1974, a group of Republicans came to me and told me I was going to be the next senator for Washakie and Hot Springs counties.”
While he declined the idea several times, Gerald finally agreed to try out the legislature.
“I ran unopposed the first time I went down to the legislature,” he says.
During his first term in the legislature, Gerald says the Senate was composed of 15 Republicans and 15 Democrats.
“The first two years, I was assigned to the Appropriations Committee, right from the start,” he comments. “At that time, it was the Ways and Means Committee, so we also dealt with revenue issues.”
Then, two years later in 1977, another election took place, and Gerald was re-elected.
“The Senate picked up one or two seats for the Republicans, and I was made chairman on the Revenue Committee in my third year,” he comments. “I was still on Appropriations, as well.”
In total, Gerald served eight years on the Appropriations Committee and nearly eight years on Revenue.
“I was vice president of the Senate in 1981-82,” he says, “and served as majority floor leader in 1983-84.”
Gerald further served as president of the Senate in 1985-86.
“Then I quit my time in the legislature,” Gerald comments, noting that he looked to pursue other political aspirations.
Roundabout way back
After years in the Senate, Gerald decided to run for Secretary of State, and when he was beat in the primary election by 62 votes, he says he decided that wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
“I was out six years when our Senator Rankin took ill and resigned after the General Session,” he says. “I was appointed to finish his term, and I’ve been there ever since.”
Since coming back, Gerald has served on the Agriculture and Education Committees.
“I served four years on Education, and then they made me chairman of the Agriculture Committee in 1995,” he says. “I’ve been chairman of that committee ever since.”
Gerald has also served on the transportation committee for eight years, replacing that committee with the Select Water Committee in 1996.
Gerald says he continues to run to the Wyoming Legislature because, “No one runs against me.”
During his 32 years in the position, he has had two opponents, but at the same time, his constituents continue to elect him to the position.
Water continues to be a high priority for Gerald.
“I really want to protect Wyoming’s water law,” Gerald says. “Wyoming has the best water law of any state in the union, and there are always people who want to change those laws.”
Because water is tied to the land, Gerald says it is important to make sure that laws remain strong.
“Now, people have to buy the land first, then go to the State Engineer’s Office to use the water,” he explains. “If someone wants to take the water off the land and use it for something else, they can’t irrigate the land. That makes it a strong law.”
“As long as I’m down there, I’ll be a very strong advocate protecting Wyoming’s water law,” he emphasizes.
At the same time that Wyoming’s water law is strong, Gerald also marks the numerous water compacts Wyoming is involved with and their importance, commenting, “Water is important for us.”
Going into the future, Gerald says, “I just handle the problems as they come. I can’t look in my crystal ball and see anything big looming in the future.”
For the next year, he notes that definitions for neglect and small animals will be decided, and education will continue to be a heavy focus, but he continues to wait to handle issues as they emerge.
“Most of the time, different people and organizations come to our interim committee and bring projects and ideas,” Gerald comments.
“I’m also on the Natural Resource Committee, and we will be dealing with the U.S. government working with Wyoming to address the state lands in Teton Park,” he says.
“I’ll be starting my 32nd year in the Senate in 2014,” says Gerald. “I’m the second in the Senate in terms of years of service. Some days are interesting, and some days are boring, but I’ve enjoyed serving the public.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.