Hunt resigns from legislature

By: 
Bob Bonnar, NLJ Publisher

Representative Hans Hunt resigned from his position in the Wyoming State Legislature to take a spot on Senator Cynthia Lummis' team in Washington D.C. (Submitted Photo)

Has accepted position in Senator Lummis' Washington D.C. office

Weston County's longtime voice in the Wyoming State Legislature announced in a press release today that he will be stepping down from his position in the legislature this week to work for Wyoming's newest senator in Washington D.C.
Wyoming House District 2 Representative Hans Hunt is going to become Senator Cynthia Lummis' agriculture and trade policy advisor, according to the release, which also indicated that he will begin working in Lummis' office in the nation's capital on October 11. Hunt's resignation is effective Friday, October 1, 2021.  
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the constituents of House District 2 for the past decade,” Hunt said in the release.  “I cannot thank the voters of Weston, Niobrara, and Goshen Counties enough for allowing me to represent them in Cheyenne, and placing their trust in me through the past six elections.”  
The press release indicated that Hunt had already decided not to run for a seventh term in the 2022 election, as he had been exploring career opportunities after earning his Master's degree in international agriculture in December, 2020.
“I have been keeping an eye out for possible job openings since the legislative session concluded at the beginning of April,” Hunt said in the press release, which detailed his qualifications for the position in Senator Lummis’ office, including 10 years of service on the House agriculture committee and four years as the committee's chairman, an educational background in agricultural business and international agriculture, and the lifetime exposure that comes from working on the family ranch.
That background will be missed in the legislature, where Hunt was once one of the youngest members to ever be sworn in. After a decade of service, he became one of that body's resident experts on agricultural issues and had most recently been involved in charting a course for legislative redistricting as a member of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.
"Hans is an extremely valued member of the House of Representatives. He's been in leadership roles and been a committee chairman and brings the institutional knowledge that is so importation to the legislature. He's become relied upon by many of his colleagues as a go-to member on certain issues," House Speaker Eric Barlow said after learning of the impending resignation.
Hunt rose quickly through the ranks after first being elected to the legislature in 2010 at the age of 22, and by his third term had been elected to serve as the Majority Whip in the Wyoming House of Representatives by his Republican peers.
"That was a wonderful opportunity, and a really great experience," Hunt told the News Letter Journal. "I got to see a more expanded viewpoint by working with legislative leadership and participating in weekly meetings with the governor. It enhanced the opportunity of being in the legislature."
After a term serving in House leadership, Hunt's legislative career shifted back to his roots when he refocused his attention and efforts on agriculture and eventually assumed the chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee.
"That's where I learned the ropes, and the day-to-day boots on the ground work of actually crafting policy, making sure a bill is written properly and that every detail and every word are correct. It's not just about directing and overseeing a meeting, but working with your counterparts and all interested parties as the spokesperson for the committee," he said, noting that his position as chairman allowed him to build and expand relationships with industry lobbyists, constituents and other lawmakers.
"That kind of experience will help me I'm sure in this new role," he reasoned.
Hunt expressed pride in the work he did for agriculture and the state of Wyoming in the second half of his tenure when he served as Ag Committee Chair and also filled the role of co-chair of the powerful Select Water Committee.
"I thought I was able to do some real good for District 2 — and the state as a whole — in terms of putting some meaningful ag policy forward," he said.
That followed in the footsteps of one of Hunt's earliest mentors, former House District 1 Representative Mark Semlek, who also chaired the Ag Committee.
"Mark Semlek was invaluable to me, especially when I was first getting started, and I'm grateful I was able to share a desk next to him on the floor before he retired," Hunt recalled. "I have the utmost admiration and respect for Mark. He's a gentleman and a statesman and was a wonderful example of how to conduct yourself and best approach things. He didn't need to scream and holler and bluster to get a point across."
The outgoing House District 2 rep also said he learned a great deal by working alongside former House Speaker Kermit Brown while Hunt served as the majority whip.
"He taught me a lot about working with people when you don't necessarily agree, and conducting yourself in a straightforward manner and not beating around the bush when a point has to be made," Hunt stated.
Weston County's sole legislator said he regrets that his resignation means he will not be able to complete the redistricting process that he has been engaged in, but he expressed confidence in the current direction of the those discussions and said he believes his present constituents will be well served by the outcome.
"I'm sorry to be leaving before that process is complete, but we have gotten the process to a point that I have confidence that Weston County will benefit from the ultimate plan. The aim of Chairman (Ogden) Driskill is to put the county back together in one district, and I have every confidence in him and the committee as it is made up to make that true. I also think Niobrara and Goshen County will be appropriately represented," Hunt predicted. 
Hunt said that he will miss serving the voters of District 2, and his time with legislative colleagues.  
"I'm going to miss the people the most, especially in the legislature. I know everybody says that when they leave, but it is true," he said. “Some of the best friends I’ve ever had I met in the legislature.”
Those sentiments were echoed by the legislators he served with, and they wished him well in his new endeavor.
"Hans worked at having relationships, and I hope that's something future legislators will appreciate as well," said Barlow, the current House Speaker. "I knew his family before we were ever in these conditions, and we're certainly wishing him the best with his new venture. He's conservative, thoughtful and genuine in his approach to the issues and people, and it is going to be quite a loss for that generation of the legislature,"
Although Hunt will be moving to Washington D.C. to assume his new duties, he anticipates that he will be seeing many of those legislators and constituents on a fairly regular basis, as his position will require frequent trips back to Wyoming.
“The position as agriculture policy advisor means that I’ll be attending events around Wyoming such as the state Stockgrowers and Woolgrowers conventions, as well as the annual state Farm Bureau meeting,” he said in the press release.
While he is eager to take this step in his professional career, Hunt admits that the opportunity to serve in the legislature was an honor and memory that he will always cherish.
"I’m very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to what this next chapter will bring, but the opportunity to be a member of the legislature is rare, and it is distinguished," he concluded. "I want to thank the friends and neighbors who put their confidence in me for the past decade."
 
(Editor's note: This is a developing story, and the News Letter Journal will have further information about filling the vacant seat in House District 2 for the remainder of Representative Hunt's term in our October 7 issue.)

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