After taking some time off from representing the public, Republican Tim French is ready to get back in the saddle.
“I’d like to do my part at the state level,” French said.
In 2018, French retired from being a Park County commissioner, a job he held for 18 years. Now, he is looking to attain a higher level of political rank with plans to run for State Senate District 18, a position that will be soon vacated by retiring Sen. Hank Coe (R-Cody).
“When he said he wasn’t going to run again I decided to run at that point,” French said.
French said he’s a staunch conservative – pro-life, a supporter of the second amendment and private property holders’ rights.
“I was raised that way,” he said.
French was born to homesteading parents in Cody and attended Powell High School. After attending Northwest College he started farming independently in 1975. He hasn’t put down the hoe since then and still farms malt barley and hay at his Powell farm.
“Running your own business, you’re naturally kind of conservative,” he said. “When times are tough you’ve got to be able to make it work.”
French said he is grateful for Coe’s many years of service but finds the two differ politically in a number of ways.
In contrast to Coe who has long been considered a moderate Republican, French says he’s more conservative.
He was against the fifth penny tax which was passed by voters in 2016, and continued expressing his distaste for it even when it ended in 2018, saying the county’s projections for how it would affect each household were underestimated.
He helped enhance the county’s information technology department and ushered the building and grounds department into its own building. During his time, the Cody Library also transitioned into the old Husky Oil building, from its former location on Sheridan Avenue.
“That was a very dangerous thing,” French said. “All those little kids weaving in and out of the tourists’ mobile homes in order to get to the library was a scary thing.”
French said if elected, he will aim to continue the agenda he championed as a commissioner – minimizing the role of government in people’s lives.
“I think less government is always better,” French said. “You don’t need to overwhelm the public.”
Where he stands
Fiscal conservatism will be a major issue for the State of Wyoming over the next few years due to the recent economic downturn. French said now more than ever, the state needs to diversify its economy and have a mixed portfolio of energy sources.
“Oil is at a very low price, tourism is going to take a major hit, the ag community is not in good shape,” he said. “Everything Wyoming does, every aspect is really getting hurt right now.”
But he is still an ardent supporter of the coal industry and believes the United States should invest more in “clean coal” enterprises to take business away from less environmentally friendly coal producers in China.
He said the State of Washington is defeating its own desired purpose by preventing Wyoming from building the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast due to its cited concerns over water quality and other environmental issues. The port would provide the Powder River Basin coal access to the rest of the world.
“We have something to offer the world that will help clean up pollution and we’re not allowed to do it?” French questioned.
One of his proudest efforts came from successfully lobbying the federal government to continue winter use in Yellowstone National Park.
“I worked on that for a long time,” he said.
In 2018, French was also directly involved with advocating for the release of the U.S. Forest Service’s High Lakes and the BLM’s McCullough Peaks Wilderness Study Areas from their Wilderness Study Area designation, and returning them to the federal agency’s management mandates for their multiple use and sustained yield protocols. The move, if granted, would have returned snowmobiling to High Lakes and certain types of motorized recreation on McCullough Peaks, while restricting surface mining on both areas.
“The commissioners in any county, they understand their county, they have a better grasp of what is going on than the federal government,” French said. “Even though we had a seat at the table they wouldn’t listen to us.”
Honor thy duty
As a commissioner, French said he stayed true to his duty as an elected official, following the county’s rules and regulations even when tempted to make an arbitrary decision.
No others have announced their intentions to run against French at this time, but no matter who enters, he finds himself a worthy candidate because of his experience and common sense.
“My 18 years as a county commissioner allowed me to become more knowledgeable on a broad spectrum of issues and I was able to make difficult decisions,” French said. “The people put their trust in me 18 years as county commissioner and I’m hoping they’ll put their trust in me again at the state level.”