Two candidates are vying for the District 4 seat on Pennington County’s Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 3 election.
Karen McGregor and Travis Lasseter are seeking to replace Commissioner Mark DiSanto, who is not seeking re-election.
District 4 includes much of eastern Pennington County and part of Rapid Valley.
McGregor has lived in Pennington County for most of her life and spent 15 years working in the county auditor’s office, a portion of which she served as the deputy auditor. She said she’s also taken minutes at commission meetings while attending about 200 meetings in her time there.
“I’m very familiar with what (the board does) and the process,” she said. “I won’t say I’m an expert, but I think I have a lot of experience.”
McGregor is retired but serves as president of the Canyon Lake Activity Center Board of Directors, trustee for the Ranch at Black Gap Road District and co-chair of Democracy in Action, a non-partisan women’s organization.
Lasseter has lived in the county for about 12 years and spent the past 10 on his family’s ranch in New Underwood. He’s a 21-year Air Force veteran who retired at Ellsworth Air Force Base. He and his family run a small family farm on their ranch.
“Serving in the military, it teaches us how to be servants as well, so we do a lot of service in the community when we’re serving in the military,” he said. “We work within our community and that was kind of instilled in me early on when I was in the Air Force.”
Lasseter previously served as the chairman of the county’s Planning Commission. He’s also been part of the alternative energy, mining and special animal ordinance committees for the county.
Both McGregor and Lasseter have run for seats in the state Legislature, although neither won in their race. Both said they want to keep an eye on the county budget and taxes under control.
“I think the County Commission owes it to the public to keep a close eye on how they spend their money,” McGregor said. “I’m not saying they’re not doing that, but I’m saying that’s very important and with the experience I have working in the auditor’s office, I saw a lot of county budgets and I’m familiar with that process. I think I would be able to hit the ground running on that sort of thing.”
McGregor said she believes the biggest issues in District 4 are tax assessments and roads.
She also said she’s pleased the wheel tax ordinance passed in order to help pay for bridges, but she intends that the county fulfills its promise on spending the money for that purpose.
Lasseter said he opposed the wheel tax and believes the county can work within its existing budget and tax base.
“I believe whenever you have money and the farm, we spend it, and if you have extra money, then we have ice cream,” he said. “If we don’t have extra money, we lose our ice cream.”
During wheel tax discussions, DiSanto said he was going to pursue conversation with state legislators about implementing a ½ cent sales tax. Lasseter said he doesn’t necessarily agree with that either and is still researching what would have been the best option.
McGregor said she doesn’t like the idea of increasing the sales tax and the wheel tax will allow those who use the roads to pay for it.
Lasseter said he really wants to focus on making sure people within District 4 and the county get the help they need, including keeping taxes low since the COVID-19 pandemic impacted so many. He said he wants to grow jobs and reduce government spending.
“I want our county to be able to support our farmers and ranchers, but also our community,” he said. “You live with kind of the big things that I support and I want to make sure the county can make it easier for farmers and ranchers to do their business, make it easier for the community businesses to grow their businesses.”
McGregor also said COVID-19 has caused a number of financial issues for county residents.
“Although the summer tourist season has provided some employment, there will likely be a spike in unemployment or underemployment, more food insecurity and possibly evictions as we head to winter and more indoor activities,” she said.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!