TEN SLEEP – Ten Sleep rancher Ed Cooper hopes to use his experience in ranching and the oil and gas industry to represent State Senate District 20.
Cooper announced his run for the Republican nomination last week.
“I’ve thought about this for a while. I considered it four years ago but I chose to back Wyatt [Agar]. Agar (R-Thermopolis) won the seat four years ago and announced after the 2020 Legislative session that he would not be seeking a second term.
Prior to Agar, the seat was filled by Worland resident Gerry Geis for many years.
“We need someone representing the entire district with both oil and gas background and agriculture background,” Cooper said.
He said his family came to the area in the early 1930s. “Some portion of the family has been involved in agriculture continuously since that time, either in Basin, Otto, Worland, Ten Sleep areas, Thermopolis or Lysite, Lost Cabin. So across the entire district.” Cooper owns Cooper Land and Livestock with his wife Becky. They have one son and two grandsons.
As for the mineral experience, Cooper has been involved with oil and gas since 1972, starting his own consulting firm, Ed Cooper Consulting, in 1981. He said they ran a payroll of just shy of $1 million through the firm last year.
When asked if he had the time to serve as a citizen legislator, Cooper said he is at the point with the consulting firm that the people he works with can run the firm when he needs to be away on legislative business. He said the same was true with Cooper Land and Livestock.
“I grew up in the Washakie County schools, Worland and Ten Sleep,” he said. He attended Casper College and then went to work for the oil and gas industry.
“The basis for our economy is minerals and agriculture. I have the experience in those areas and those are the areas that need the most help right now,” Cooper said.
Cooper said during his interview Thursday that Wyoming sour oil was $5.50 per barrel and Wyoming sweet was under $11.75. “Those prices are devastating to the small producers here in the Basin. We have just independents left here and they are beginning to struggle. A large portion of the production in the Basin is going to be shut-in pretty shortly. Some wells are shut in already. It’s going to have a devastating effect on the state and the county.”
Cooper said, “We have to keep the small independents in business somehow in Wyoming. They are our bread and butter. These fields are old and pretty marginal but they are critical for sustained revenue for the state. They are critical for jobs across the district.’
Why the Wyoming Legislature? “I feel I can make a difference and I do know people all across the district from Otto to Lysite. We have a lot of connections and ties across the whole district. The people in Otto and Lost Cabin deserve the same voice as the people in Thermopolis and Worland. In order to get that we need someone who knows the district, the region and the people inside it.”
Cooper does not have any specific items to address if elected.
“I feel like my job would be to listen to as many people from all the way across the district as I can and form a consensus,” he said.
“One of the things I really think is important is the sustainability of the family farms and feed lots in this area. I think they are going to need as much help from the state as we can get. I don’t know what that help is yet. I’m already out listening to those folks and asking their opinion,” Cooper said.
As for the Republican ticket, Cooper said he is “pretty conservative like most of the people in this district. I’m likeminded with most of the people, but my opinion is far less important than the consensus of the people in the district.”
For any elected official, he said, the priority should be to listen to the people who elected them. If elected he said he will be there to listen. “I know a lot of them and I hope to know a lot more of them by August,” he said.
He hopes to be able to start visiting people throughout the district once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. He said he will have a website and social media presence for people to reach out and an email for them to reach out. People can also give him a call.
Other things he feels are important is the sustainability of Wyoming’s way of life. “I’ve been told more than once that Ten Sleep’s not just a place to live but it’s a way of life. That pretty much goes for all of Wyoming. It’s where we choose to live. It’s our home. It’s been my family’s home for nearly 100 years.”
He said his grandson Zayne Cooper, also serving as his social media campaign manager, is sixth-generation Wyomingite and fourth generation in the same school building.
“I guess I have to say we’re vested here. We are part of this community. Sometimes we all have to take our turn,” he said.
He added, “I’m pretty straight up. I believe in the premise of ‘tell me what you can do and then do what you tell me.’ I believe in strong families. I think we have to strive to protect Wyoming way of life, our environment and our livelihoods in a common sense and reasonable fashion.”
People can reach out to Cooper at [email protected] or 307-851-5949
Linda Weeks of Basin announced her Republican candidacy earlier this month.