The candidate lost a close three-way battle for county judge in 2012

After narrowly losing a three-man race for Crook County Judge in 2012, Walt Wagner is once again seeking a seat in county government.

The current school board member filed to run for Crook County Commissioner against incumbent Seth Crawford, who defeated Jack Seley in the May primary to secure the Republican Party nomination. After running for judge as an Independent, Wagner will face Crawford without a political party affiliation.

According to Crook County Clerk Dee Berman, a candidate has to have been registered as a non-affiliated voter for at least 180 days to file under that designation.

Wagner said that his candidacy originated after the May primary when people began to approach him about running against Crawford.

“It is a tough decision and it isn’t,” he said. “It is a tough decision because of the time it takes, the money it takes, the commitment it takes, and the energy it takes. But I am up to it.”

While his candidacy was spawned in part by requests, Wagner said he is running in hopes of improving communication between county government and the public.

“Most of Crook County has no idea what it costs to run the county and where their money is being spent,” he said. “The communication thing has always been a problem as far as I am concerned, and to find a solution to it I feel is a challenge.”

Wagner said that the county court meetings he attends, and the school board meetings he is involved with both see a low turnout, and he is committed to ensuring that a higher percentage of county citizens are informed regarding county issues.

To learn what those issues and corresponding solutions might be, Wagner said he would make a point of meeting with county employees, as he did while running for judge two years ago.

“It’s amazing the things that you can pick up that would be great ideas that get filtered out in administration and don’t make it to the top,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Wagner said that he would like to address some particular issues that he believes face the county. Among those is the current poverty situation in Crook County, which he feels has remained the same in recent years, and the need for a new jail.

In addition, he believes that county commissioners needs to take a more active role in recruiting new businesses. He noted that during a candidate forum this spring, Crawford said his job was not to recruit businesses, but create an environment that will make community more attractive to companies.

“If there is anything I don’t agree with, it’s that,” Wagner said. “We have various organizations that can help us with our jobs and go out and look for businesses to bring them into Crook County, but I think we need to have someone like a commissioner go out and talk to these people and make that first connection, get them interested, let them know what’s available, and let them know how we will support them. Get involved, then turn it over to the pros that deal with them. It’s a no-brainer. We have to be go-getters.”

The deadline for minority or non-affiliated voters to file for the 2014 general election is Aug. 26. The election will take place Nov. 4.

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