Cheyenne native Sean Castaneda on Thursday declared his candidacy for House District 41 of the Wyoming State Legislature, running on the Democratic ticket.
Castaneda, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan whose title was the Economic and Political Information Chief for Helmand and Nimruz Provinces, served for eight years in the US Marine Corps Reserve. During that time, he was also deployed many times to unstable countries in Africa.
If elected, Castaneda said diversifying Wyoming’s economy beyond energy industry revenues would be his focus.
“I am not advocating moving away from energy industry revenues, but change is happening at the fastest pace in human history,” he said. “For our state to rely solely on its natural resources will not allow us to keep up with the changes around us.”
“If you’re happy with our diversification efforts so far, don’t vote for me,” he said. “But in talking to House District 41 constituents, I know they’re not. We’re not moving fast enough.”
Castaneda said Wyoming is already constrained by the federal government “owning almost half of the state, so we need to make the most of what we do have.”
He said he would also push for an increase in education spending and will seek to create more job opportunities for Wyoming’s youth. “Education is the number one way the State will be able to keep up with the changing world. Education helps to create a more available talent pool and a ready talent pool is enticing to new businesses.” said Castaneda.
Castaneda said his support for Wyoming veterans would also be a priority and singled-out the Wyoming legislature’s decision to discontinue funding the Wyoming Overseas Combat Veterans program as an impetus to declare his candidacy.
“It was a disservice to our veterans that the State government would discontinue a necessary program that helps veterans and their family members attend school,” Castaneda said.
He said that although the funding for the program was recently reinstated, the fact that it was taken off the table at all worried him because critical funding for veterans’ programs should “never be caught-up in a political game.”
“I realized that if we want to protect veterans from political shenanigans, our veterans need another voice in the legislature,” he said. “I’ll be that voice. I’ll step up and do the work. Our veterans need and deserve that voice.”
“I believe my energy and worldwide experience will represent the younger generation of Wyoming and the veterans who have served this great country,” he said. “A more diverse decision-making body always better benefits the people to whom it is responsible. I will bring new ideas to the table along with an understanding ear and a realistic approach to decision making and the issues Wyoming faces.”
Castaneda is a manager at Wasabi restaurant and graduated from East High School in 2006.