Republican leaders chart course for choosing finalists for county attorney

by nathan oster

Big Horn County Republican party leaders will meet in Basin on Tuesday, April 17 to select the three finalists to forward to the commissioners to complete the four-year term of Big Horn County Attorney Kim Adams

Adams announced her resignation last week. It takes effect June 1 —  approximately seven months before her first term in office would be ending.

Janice Wantulok, chair of the Big Horn County Republican Party, said in an interview Tuesday that four people have expressed a desire to complete the seven months that remain on Adams’ term.

They include:

  • Former Big Horn County Attorney Michelle McColloch Burns. Defeated by Adams in 2014, Burns was the incumbent at the time. She is now in private practice in Greybull.
  • Shell attorney Philip Abromats. He ran unsuccessfully for the House District 26 seat in 2016, but has remained active in GOP circles. He’s currently serving as a precinct committeeman in Big Horn County.
  • Kim Mickelson. A native of north Big Horn County, she is the only one of the four currently working in the county attorney’s office. She also worked in the downtown Greybull law practice of Georgia Antley Hunt.
  • Marcia Bean, an attorney in Fremont County. Wantulok said it’s being researched, but that it appears Bean would have to move to Big Horn County to be considered for the position.

A fifth candidate, Tish Abromats of Shell, had also expressed interest, but Wantulok said she withdrew her name from consideration on Tuesday afternoon.

The party will continue to accept applications from candidates interested in completing Adams’ term through 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17. Party leaders will hold their meeting at 6 p.m. at the courthouse in Basin.

Candidates wishing to apply can send their resume and a short biography to the Big Horn County Republican Party, P.O. Box 11, Cowley, WY 82420, or via email to owantulok@yahoo.com.

 

The process

The vacancy was one of several items on the agenda at a meeting of county Republican leaders held Monday at the Weed and Pest building northwest of Greybull.

Wantulok said there has been uncertainty in recent days about the timing of when the party is required present the list of three finalists to the county commission, since Adams isn’t technically leaving office until June 1. Input from the state’s attorney general has been sought to clarify. Wantulok said her preference all along has been to do it sooner, rather than later.

Wantulok said the plan, as it stands now, is to hold the meeting in Basin on April 17 and to present the names of the three finalists to the county commission that night. The next morning, the clock would start ticking on a requirement that the commissioners fill the seat within five days. The candidate who is chosen would then presumably take office on June 2.

The approach is identical to the one the party used several years ago when Thomas “Scotty” Hinman’s death resulted in an open seat on the county commission. John Hyde emerged from that process to fill the vacancy.

Wantulok was asked what criteria she and other GOP leaders will be looking for in the applicants. She said, “They’ll need to answer questions about how they’d handle trials and their feelings about plea bargaining. We need someone who is willing to go in and make sure people who have done something wrong have to pay for what they did.”

 

Office transition

Adams isn’t the only one leaving the county attorney’s office.

Her assistant, Greg Blenkinsop, has also resigned and is in his final week on the job.

Adams would not speak on the record about why she is resigning, but said she may at some point between now and her final day on June 1.

A call to Blenkinsop seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The deputy has been handling much of the courtroom work in recent months.

“Like Brandon before him, he’s been like family … and I’ve been blessed to have them here, not only professionally but personally too,” said Adams. “Greg has done a phenomenal job and will be missed.”

Adams said that with Blenkinsop on the verge of leaving, she has hired another attorney to help her for her final two months on the job. That person will start work around “the second week of April,” she said, adding that she wouldn’t release that person’s name until after he or she joins her team.