By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
The race for Frannie town mayor has taken some unexpected twists and turns, especially when considering no one entered it at the start. Now two men are committed to a head-to-head showdown in what was previously Wyoming’s sleepiest mayoral race.
Since nobody signed up to run for mayor in Frannie, a town of nearly 150 in northwest Wyoming, the Big Horn County Canvassing Board had to rely on write-in candidates to find a possible candidate from the primary election.
When all 26 votes were counted, current Mayor Vance Peregoy came out on top with eight votes. In a close second was town council member Steven Richardson with seven. Both candidates received enough votes to be considered qualified candidates for the general election.
Frannie Town Clerk Deidre Clendenen confirmed both Peregoy and Richardson have said they will now run in the general election, creating an exciting head-to-head showdown in what was previously Wyoming’s sleepiest mayoral race.
“I figured I might as well, somebody’s got to,” Peregoy said. “It makes you feel good to have people nominate you.”
Someone’s Gotta Do It
Peregoy has been mayor of Frannie for 12 years. Clendenen has also been with the town for a dozen years and said she had never seen a mayor race play out like this, although there have been a few vacant town council races. There is currently an open seat on the town’s four-member council.
In the 2018 general election, 50 people cast ballots in the Frannie mayor’s race. Although this turnout is lower than most elementary school’s student council elections, it’s respectable considering the town’s overall population.
Peregoy said being mayor of Frannie isn’t too strenuous but even in a town as small as his, he still must deal with governmental bureaucracy.
“You have to wade through all the government red tape with every damn thing you do,” he said.
Peregoy’s duties include overseeing the town’s employees and approving all town expenditures and projects. He said most residents of Frannie are either retirees or young families, dealing with the same issues afflicting many Americans- inflation, increasing costs of gas and basic services.
During one town council meeting in 2021, Peregoy had to break the news that the town couldn’t afford to purchase its own $10,800 street sweeper. To save costs, Clendenen only works four days a week in the summer.
Most prominent of the challenges facing “the biggest little town in Wyoming,” he said, is keeping down the cost of trash and water.
“You try to keep expenses down for the town’s people,” he said.
Peregoy said he held back from running for a fourth term to give someone else a chance to be mayor. He did something similar in 2018 but signed up to run on the last day of the filing period upon discovering nobody had signed up.
When asked about differences that separate him and Richardson, Peregoy said, “I’m not going to get into that.”
Richardson, a relatively new resident who joined the town council in 2021, did not return a request for comment.