A longtime Wyoming journalist and good government advocate is seeking the Democratic party's nomination for House District 56 in central Casper.

Dan Neal decided to run for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Tim Stubson, who is running for the open U.S. House seat, because political ideology has overshadowed sound policy and reasonable decision-making in the Legislature, he said Tuesday.

"I've been concerned that over the last few years we've seen what I think is a trend toward too many legislators basing their decisions in ideology rather than in what's best for Wyoming families and Wyoming communities," Neal said.

"I want to bring a pragmatic approach to the job, do a good job analyzing issues," he said. "I'm a person who will turn to data when data is available to make good decisions, and I'm one that intends to listen closely to what my constituents have to say and what the people who know the most about issues have to say."

Neal, 63, has lived in Casper for about 35 years, is a father of three, and wants to see Casper represented fairly. He worked more more than 25 years as a journalist in Wyoming including more than two decades as a writer and editor for the Casper Star-Tribune. He also was the executive director of the Equality State Policy Center for 10 years.

Citing his goals, Neal said the Legislature needs to maintain its commitment to education. Casper College is within House District 56, and its role will become more important as people affected by the economic downturn seek retraining, he said.

The Legislature needs to adopt Medicaid expansion, which would bring in about $230 million to $240 million over the next two years, and would save the Wyoming Department of Health about $30 million, Neal said.

The Legislature also needs to resist efforts by some to transfer federal lands to state control, he said. Wyoming can't afford to maintain those lands and it would eventually need to sell them, he said. "That would be a disaster for wildlife management and public access."

While the Legislature has made progress, it needs to be more transparent especially in budget-making decisions, he said.

This is Neal's first time seeking political office. But his experience in journalism and good government has positioned him well, he said, to serving in the Legislature. He covered oil field thefts on the Wind River Indian Reservation in the early 1980s, natural gas supplies to Casper, the Game and Fish Department, wolf reintroduction and the black-footed ferret recovery.

He's been in most communities and has attended numerous legislative sessions, especially during his 10 years as executive director of the Equality State Policy Center. "I have a good understanding how that (lawmaking) process works."

The filing period for all candidates begins May 12 and ends May 27. Both Democratic and Republican party primaries will be held on Aug. 16.

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