Rep. David Northrup (R-Powell) sees the incredible challenges coming to the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wants to be in a position to help lead Wyoming in the right direction.
So, after four terms in the House, Northrup is seeking election to the senate to replace retiring Sen. Hank Coe (R-Cody).
“It is now my feeling it’s time for Wyoming leadership to rise up and help us recover from the pandemic,” Northrup said. “I really believe that experience and leadership are what’s needed now with the revenue shortfall. Wyoming is going to be in a different spot than it was before.”
He is the second person to announce a run for the seat following former Park County commissioner Tim French. Longtime Cody School Board trustee Stefanie Bell put her hat in the ring Monday morning. See Thursday’s edition for a story on Bell.
Northrup, a lifelong Republican, said he made the decision in the last week after consulting with his wife and other family members. He also talked with Coe, a legislator he worked closely with as each chairs the respective education committees.
“I consulted with Hank, I asked him what he thought, I asked his advice,” Northrup said. “I talked to quite a few people.”
After getting a number of opinions, he made the decision to run.
Northrup began serving in the state legislature in 2012, starting on the revenue and education committees. When the chairman of the education committee had a heart attack in 2015, Northrup was tapped to be the acting chair. The next year he was made the official chairman of the committee and he has led it ever since.
Prior to his work in Cheyenne, the Willwood farmer served as chair of Park County Republican Party for one term and was chair of the Powell School District Board for six years. He served on that board for more than 12 years.
He said education has always been important to him – his wife is a professor and head of the math and engineering department at Northwest College and Northrup has a degree in geological engineering.
Northrup said he appreciated the work school districts have done to overcome the current unprecedented struggles. The legislature will soon be diving back into a special session Friday-Saturday to assist people and businesses all across the state, including school districts, as legislators look for how best to spend more than a billion dollars as part of the federal relief.
“Thanks to all the teachers and district personnel for the great, innovative work during the pandemic,” he said. “It really shows their excellent level of dedication.”
Time in legislature
Northrup has sponsored many bills that have gone on to become law during his time in the house, as well as shepherding through education bills as chair.
One of his proudest accomplishments is passing pieces of legislation to ensure college transcripts can be transferred between any institution in the state. He said it’s legislation that will have more effect on families than most.
“It’ll be the same transcript,” he said. “No comparing English 101 to 110. All like classes are numbered the same and have the same transcript.”
Work now has turned to getting the community colleges and the University of Wyoming to collaborate.
“Many students come from UW, go back to community college,” he said. “You need to be able to move back and forth, not get dinged on it.”
Northrup has also worked extensively with fellow legislators and said it’s important for representatives and senators in the Big Horn Basin.
He said it’s crucial they all work together as Cheyenne has as many legislators as all of the Basin.
If elected, Northrup said he’d like to once again work his way into a leadership role on education.
He’s committed to having more time as well to campaign and continue to work as a legislator – he recently sold some of his land so that he and one hired worker would be able to handle all of the farming.
“We’re going to put a lot of time and effort into it,” he said.
Before he can do much campaigning he’ll be busy in one of two likely special legislative sessions.
The first is Friday-Saturday and most legislators will be participating via Zoom as they consider bills to determine how the $1.25 billion in federal stimulus funds will be spent.
“It’s a good thing we have $1.25 billion,” he said. “I feel these single-proprietor people have just as much to lose (as bigger companies).
“We have to make sure as a state we get federal money out to people.”
A second longer legislative session this summer could then address how much adjustment has to be made to state funding to account for the large drop in energy prices and sales tax revenue.
“We all know what the downturn will mean for K-12 schools and Northwest College,” he said.
Northrup wants to be among those helping the state get through one of the biggest challenges it’s faced yet.