UW Professor Seeks State Senate Seat
Rep. Glenn Moniz (R-Albany) will face a democratic challenger in his bid to fill the seat of Sen. Phil Nicholas (R-Albany), who plans to retire at the end of his current term.
Narina Nunez, a University of Wyoming psychology professor of 29 years and co-owner of TNT Motorsports, says she was inspired to take a swing at representing Senate District 10 after reading comments from Moniz printed in the Laramie Boomerang in April.
Moniz, who sits on the Joint Appropriations Committee, reportedly said the committee did not find an $8.4 million tax refund program funded by the Wyoming Department of Health worth keeping because it was not cost-effective. The program offered a tax refund of up to $800 to seniors and disabled persons who make less than $10,000 each year.
Moniz was quoted in the Boomerang as saying "Basically, what we thought is all you had to do was exist to get a benefit from the program."
In fact, Moniz was talking about a different program -- a property tax refund -- when he made that comment, which was ultimately taken out of context. The Boomerang printed a piece by Moniz detailing available tax refund programs on Friday, June 10.
"In the last budget session, we had things backwards," says Nunez. "They cut an eight-million-dollar program for the most vulnerable people in our community and then let all of these capital construction projects just sail through without any kind of question."
"It really made me feel like the budgeting process was backwards," says Nunez. "They weren't putting people first, they were just slashing programs without giving a lot of though as to who it was going to harm."
Nunez identifies fiscal responsibility, Medicaid expansion, and preservation of Wyoming's natural spaces as her top priorities. She is particularly concerned about the lack of a policy that outlines how the Wyoming Legislature uses the rainy day fund.
"We have to develop clear guidelines for the use of the rainy day fund," says Nunez. "I don't advocate for raiding those funds because the budget crisis may be with us for a while. However, we should use some of the money each year to keep the budget cuts from becoming too severe."
Nunez feels that state legislators are too distant. She hopes to take a more personal approach when working with her constituents.
"I've been here for twenty-nine years and I feel like I've had any representatives who come to my door at election time and they want my vote, but then I don't see or hear from them again until the next election," says Nunez. "I really want to be different."
"If I win, I want to be able to communicate with people daily about what's going on in session," says Nunez. "I feel like our legislators are a little bit too disconnected from the people of this county and I want to try to do it differently."
Nunez is the only democrat up for Senate District 10 listed on the Secretary of State's 2016 Primary Election Candidate Roster, and Moniz is the only republican running for the seat.