Pelkey advocates for school funding, public lands, reaching out across aisle

A local attorney is running for his third term as state representative as he faces a challenge from a local business owner. The race for House District 45 will be between Rep. Charles Pelkey, D-Laramie, and Republican challenger Roxie Hensley, owner of Roxie’s on Grand.

Pelkey, who first started serving in the Wyoming House in 2015, said he is running again because he felt like he got something done during the past couple of years and hopes to continue doing so. He used the factual innocence bill as an example of his work in the state legislature. Previously, those convicted of crimes only had two years to prove their innocence with new evidence after being convicted under Wyoming law, Pelkey said. The bill he worked on made it easier to go through the process after the old two-year window. Pelkey said he was able to get all parties on board for the bill, including the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, the Innocence Project and prosecutors from across the state.

Experience helps, Pelkey said, and he felt less frustrated in the last year in the Legislature than he previously did.

While he isn’t opposed to term limits, Pelkey said it is around the end of the second term when one starts to reach their stride.

On his platform, Pelkey said preserving funding for education is at the top. The state has made an incredible investment in K-12 education and is the highest ranked state in west of the Mississippi, he said. He said one of the personal reasons he has stayed in Wyoming is because of the excellent education opportunities available to his children.

Another issue Pelkey said is important is keeping public land in state hands. Wyoming has some of the most beautiful land in the country, and it belongs to everyone, he said. He does not think privatization would be good for the land. The state has some of the most accessible land to the people and animals, and it attracts people to Wyoming through tourism and hunting, Pelkey said.

As one of only nine democrats in the Wyoming House of Representatives, Pelkey said he thought the partisanship going forward could become worse than it was in the past. He said he has worked with several members of the Republican party throughout the years and never had issues with getting Republican co-sponsors or working on compromises across the aisle. Pelkey said the example Wyoming has set for bipartisanship is what should be happening at the federal level.

Neither Hensley nor Pelkey are facing a primary challenge for the election Aug. 21, and voters will decide who will be their representative Nov. 6. Repeated attempts by the Laramie Boomerang to contact Hensley for comment were not returned.

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