CHEYENNE – First there were eight. Then there were three.
And, now, there’s one.
Ed Buchanan of Lingle, former Speaker of the House of Representatives for the state of Wyoming, was sworn in Monday to fill the vacant position of Wyoming Secretary of State, an office he’d made a run for and narrowly missed in the last general election.
Buchanan was appointed by Gov. Matt Mead on Thursday to fill the position vacated by the Feb. 9 resignation of former Secretary Ed Murray. Earlier in the week, Mead sat down with Buchanan and the other two finalists for the post – attorney Darin Smith from Cheyenne and Richard George, a farmer from Cody – for personal interviews before naming Murray’s successor. Buchanan said his interview with the governor was “a very good experience.
“We talked about the various duties of the Secretary of State, the roles of the five elected officials on boards and commissions, leadership styles,” he said Friday. “A wide range of topics were covered.”
In a press release Thursday, Mead said: “I was particularly impressed that Ed ran for this office in the last election. He understands state government, having served in the legislature. Ed is committed to Wyoming and to the responsibilities of the office.”
Buchanan spent part of his day Friday winding up projects from his job with the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office. He then met some of the staff in his new office in Cheyenne.
“I paid a visit to the office to meet a few of the folks,” Buchanan said. “I’ll go back in after the swearing in on Monday and we’ll get started.
“From what I’ve seen so far, they are extremely professional folks,” he said. “Their goal is the same as mine – to get the job done, to provide great customer service.”
Buchanan said he already has list of goals to accomplish during his appointment, including election season preparations.
“I have to make sure the office is ready for the upcoming election season,” he said. “We have a great team of folks (in the Secretary of State’s office), ready to go on that.”
Other areas Buchanan said he’ll be focusing on over the next several weeks including getting “up to speed” on projects currently in the works with the State Loan and Investment Board and learning more about the interactions between his office and the State Treasurer’s office. He also has some ideas of his own he’d like to see implemented in the office.
“There are a few things we can get started with fairly quickly, such as bringing online the equipment to be used to electronically file financial statements,” Buchanan said. “Another thing is to make the administrative rules data base more user friendly.”
This round, the position Buchanan is filling is a 10-month appointment, the remainder of his predecessor’s elected term. Buchanan confirmed Friday he hopes to make the job a long-term proposition.
“I’m still intending to file to run as the incumbent,” he said. “But that, to me, is secondary. The filing deadline for the election will be at the end of May, so I’m going to concentrate first and foremost on the office. I’ve still got a few months to do that.”
Born in Florida, Buchanan moved to Goshen County with his family in the late 1960s when his parents, Wade and Kay Buchanan, bought a ranch eight-miles north of Lingle. He grew up farming and ranching in Goshen County and attended Lingle schools.
He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Master’s in Public Administration, both from the University of Wyoming.
Most of his family still lives in Goshen County. He has two daughters, Emily and Erin, from his previous marriage to Renee, and two sons, Reece and Cash, with his current wife, Amber.
After earning his law degree at UW in 1998, Buchanan opened his own law office in Torrington. He soon “found a niche,” he said, working as a prosecuting attorney, helping out in district attorney’s offices around the state. And he quickly learned he loved the challenges of being in the courtroom.
With his appointment to be Secretary of State, his days “in the trenches” are over, for the time being at least. And Buchanan said he’s definitely going to miss the action – and the interactions – his days in court provided.
“It’s kind of bitter-sweet,” he said. “I’m leaving a whole group of colleagues, other lawyers, judges, who’ve just been wonderful to work with. You miss the people, you miss the challenge of the courtroom battles in criminal prosecutions.”
But the office of Secretary of State offers its own set of challenges, new things to accomplish, Buchanan said. He related a conversation earlier in the day Friday, where he was talking about people asking him what Buchanan thought he’d be doing with a degree in political science while he was still in school.
“This is what you do,” he said. “This is part of my education, on through my career in the legal field – this is what you do with that.
“This job is all of those things – it’s everything I’ve studied and every I do and have done,” Buchanan said. “It’s bitter-sweet to leave behind the old, but I’m excited about the new.”