#wyostrong: Keeping Gillette 'The Energy Capital of the Nation'

*Photo: Dylan Czarnecki with his father Marty on Father's Day* (Gillette, Wyo.) "I didn't think I'd be a coal miner, to be honest with you." Being a Democrat in Wyoming, in the heart of coal country, as a coal miner, is not the most common of things. Dylan Czarnecki was born and raised in Campbell County in a coal mining family. His father, who has been a mine worker for 32 years, moved them to Wright when Dylan was in the fourth grade, and eventually he began working at the mine, as well, and has for the past eleven years. But a few years ago he suffered a back injury, and realized his future might not be as a mine worker. "I had a hard time going back to the mines," he said. "I knew if I kept doing it my body was going to start betraying me." That's when his mother, who works for the school district, encouraged him to go back to school. He's been balancing a job at the Black Thunder mine in Wright with seeking a degree in Secondary Education at Grand Canyon University. "My mom can't really relax, she always has to be doing something," he says of his family's work ethic. "If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it all out. It's not matter of not putting the work in. It's a matter of making the time." Between work and school, he doesn't have a lot of free time. But Czarnecki was convinced to run for House District 31 this election by the Executive Director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, who pulled him aside when she discovered he was from Campbell County. He is campaigning against incumbent Scott Clem for a seat, and feels he has a different perspective on what Campbell County needs. "Working in the coal mine I understand how integral it is to our livelihoods," he explained. "I think there's just a vast misrepresentation of coal. You hear people talking about how bad coal is, and they treat it like it's an abstract without representing that this accounts for thousands of jobs, and several cities in Wyoming." He believes that Gillette should remain the "Energy Capital of the Nation," even if that means incorporating alternative energy with the fossil fuel industry that the local economy depends on. "I think this community is tired of the boom and bust, and the lack of real representation in government. I think people want Gillette to be something stable and independent. It'd be nice if we can diversify what we rely on." Czarnecki says we can't get rid of coal, that it would be devastating to the county. He's in favor of building up an infrastructure that would support testing new energy sources, like the work that's proposed for the Integrated Test Center. Most importantly, he says there needs to be more working people in politics. He hopes to be the sort of blue collar representation that's lacking in the legislature. "There's more to the community than coal, and I'd like to represent them, and help the two sides meet. The people that hate coal, and the people that think it's the only way." #wyostrong #county17 #county10 #reboot #dally #shortgo #oilcity #springcity #buckrail #news