Better Wyoming conducted a series of interviews on important state issues throughout 2016. Below is an interview with DeBari Martinez.
What do you think about the attempt by some Republican legislators who want the federal government to turn over all of its public lands to the state to manage or own?
I’m very opposed to transferring federal lands to the state because of what it would do to the average person who wanted to go hunting or hiking or fishing. Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson said it would be the worst thing that we could do because the state would lease the land or sell it; it would probably turn it over to the school district and they would sell it. I’m very much opposed to that. The state couldn’t afford to take care of [the federal lands], and that’s why they would get rid of it.
Some Republican legislators either don’t believe the gender wage gap is real or that if it is, state government shouldn’t do anything about it. What do you think needs to be done?
If women at work are doing the same job a man does, they should be receiving equal pay. I think one thing that would help close the gender wage gap would be to raise the state minimum wage, or make it mandatory that women receive the same pay [as men] wherever they’re working. We all need to take this issue seriously.
I talked to a lady last night who made $4.25 an hour. She had two customers all day because the restaurant was slow. So she’s making $4.25 an hour plus tips — there’s no way in the world anyone can survive on that.
Are there other laws that need to be on the books in Wyoming to protect victims of domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a major problem throughout Wyoming. I’ve been a strong advocate for domestic violence victims while I’ve been on the Rawlins City Council. If there are ways to make stricter laws to help prevent people from committing these crimes and to protect and help victims, I would strongly support that.
I plan to visit with our city and county officials about how we can potentially make protective orders more effective. I will also meet with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which lobbies on behalf of victims, and talk to members about their ideas for legislation.
Many Republicans oppose spending state funds on early childhood education. How do you feel about the issue?
I’ve strongly supported early childhood education as a member of the Rawlins City Council. We have a fund that we use to give money to nonprofit organizations, and Head Start is one that we’ve been funding for years.
Your opponent has frequently emphasized his A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. Do you also support the Second Amendment?
I was born and raised in Wyoming; my family came here in 1913 and I’m not going anywhere. I’m getting ready to address my opponent’s support from the NRA, and my answer is this — my family hunts and I own rifles. We grew up with hunting around here. I do not need the NRA to call me from New York and send me a pamphlet that says I should believe in the Second Amendment, or fill out a survey and say I support everything that they say.
I believe in hunting and I believe in having guns in your house. If people want to buy all the Uzis in the world and hang them in their house, that’s fine with me. Just don’t shoot me. I know what guns are and that they’ve always been a way of life here, and I support the Second Amendment. Do I support people carrying guns under their jacket? I don’t really like that idea. Why would you go to a City Council meeting with a gun under your coat? That’s scary.
The Legislature hasn’t passed any bills restricting reproductive rights in recent years, but there are GOP lawmakers who have tried to introduce bills mandating ultrasounds and penalties for not reporting abortions. Are you pro-choice?
As a Catholic — and not a very active Catholic — I’m not gung-ho about abortion. But I think that women have a right to make those decisions and families have a right to make those decisions. I don’t feel I should be passing laws that don’t affect me personally but they affect families. I wouldn’t support abortion if I was voting for myself. But I’m voting for the public.