Saturday, May 12, 2012

Firefighter Joe Fender announces election bid, warns Legislature: "Don't mess with" state retirement system

From a Wyoming Democratic Party press release:
Cheyenne Fire Fighter Joe Fender has announced his plan to seek the Democratic nomination for the House District 7 seat in the Wyoming Legislature. 
Fender, a fifteen-year veteran of the fire service, is a lieutenant with the Cheyenne Fire & Rescue Department. “I have dedicated nearly my entire adult life as a public servant, so I see serving in the Legislature as a way for me to continue to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family” said Fender. 
Fender said his strengths are his understanding of the legislative process as well as local issues directly affecting the citizens of House District 7. He said his neighbors are concerned about water quality. They are concerned that hydraulic fracturing will damage their drinking water and don’t want to wind up like the people in Pavillion. Fender believes Wyoming can continue the economic development of minerals while protecting the land and water for future generations. 
Fender’s experience as a fire fighter has helped him to understand the role the state can play in making sure Wyoming’s citizens get the critical services they deserve. He said a consistent plan must be put in place to make sure local communities have quality basic services such as safe, well-maintained roads, clean water, good schools and public safety.  
“We need to take a hard look at our finances and determine whether we should continue our current level of Mineral Trust Fund deposits,” said Fender “or whether it is time to invest some of that money into critical infrastructure, where it will directly affect the lives of the citizens of Wyoming”. 
Fender has several important issues for legislative attention. Wyoming ranks at the bottom of the nation in worker deaths and injuries as well as ranks at the bottom in gender gap equality, he noted.“Women in Wyoming make only 67 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts,” said Fender. Fender said Wyoming women are often forced into low-paying jobs, or forced to stay home altogether, because childcare costs eat up too much of their paychecks. “Mothers need access to quality childcare,” he said.
Fender said many citizens worry about where the Legislature is taking the public pension system. Some 89,000 people rely on the Wyoming retirements they have earned for their years of service, he said. Most of them reinvest that money right back into Wyoming’s economy. “The reality is that the average monthly retirement benefit for public employees in Wyoming is $1,200 a month,” said Fender. “Anything we do that interrupts that revenue stream will have serious consequences to retirees and local economies”. Fender said several studies show the Wyoming retirement system is actually one of the most stable in the country. The Wyoming Legislature shouldn’t mess with something that works, he added. 
Fender pointed out that he has considerable experience working with the Wyoming Legislature. “With five years of lobbying experience representing firefighters and public safety under my belt, I feel as though I have the knowledge, skills and abilities to represent my district by being responsive to the constituents.”

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