I ran for the Vice President of the 8th grade. And lost. I have steered clear of politics ever since.
In fact, I have lived in a bubble. That bubble consisted of my family and friends, neighbors, the medical community, and the Army.
There are a lot of people that live in bubbles. Their bubbles might be a job and soccer, or church and a neighborhood. School and family. Regardless, a large part of our community are not “in the loop”.
After the rec center failed, I was disappointed. I couldn’t believe that we wouldn’t want a rec center in Cheyenne. A lot of the people in my bubble were also confused The paper, KGAB, and social media don’t always penetrate the bubbles, so we didn’t understand why it didn’t pass.
For many reasons, including the failed rec center, we started the children’s museum. It began very organically and continues to be a citizen driven project. As we embarked on the process with the City to acquire ¼ of the property, I became aware of how broken some of the communication, attitudes, and processes in government were.
I also became aware of the needs of downtown such as parking, abandoned buildings, and perception. As the Executive Director of the DDA, I work on these issues and many others such as West Edge, development, creating a residential community, and infusing culture into downtown.
Through the military, being a small business owner, and private development, I’ve been able to further expand my knowledge of the community at large and the City as a whole.
It’s all been very eye opening.
I’m running for Mayor because I want things to be different for our City, for our City staff, and for our residents. I want people who live in bubbles to feel listened to and valued, whether they are in the loop or in their bubble. I want them to be on the forefront of our minds.
I want our community, our people, and our children to thrive.
I want to leave a better tomorrow than we have today.
This isn’t 8th grade and my bubble has been shattered. I’m here to make a difference and to find solutions. I’m here so that we can all win.
Justin Kallal, Campaign Manager, Introduction of Amy Surdam
My name is Justin Kallal and it is my honor to introduce to you the next Mayor of Cheyenne: Amy Surdam.
I think the best way for me to do that is to answer a question that I have been getting asked an awful lot lately: Why are you managing Amy’s campaign for Mayor?
And the answer is simple: I am doing it for me. I want to be a part of this. I want to live in a city with a leader that is capable, visionary, loves Cheyenne, and who is doing it for all the right reasons.
Amy is one of the most capable people I have ever known. She is a nurse practitioner, property developer, the founder and owner of multiple businesses, executive director of the DDA, founder and president of the children’s museum, and a Lt. Colonel in the Army National Guard. To top it all off she is also the mother of four boys.
She is a visionary who sees obstacles as opportunities. She saw the “hole” downtown and she saw an opportunity. She had the vision to see that not only would a children’s museum be a tremendous asset to Cheyenne but the museum would also solve the problem of the “hole” downtown and help continue the process of downtown revitalization.
Amy grew up here and she loves Cheyenne and the people who live here. She shows this everyday with her commitment to her work for the DDA, her work for and support of numerous non-profits in Cheyenne, and the jobs her businesses bring to Cheyenne. She shows her love with her contagious smile and optimism even when she is working with people on the opposite side of the fence on an issue.
Last, Amy is running for Mayor for all the right reasons. She is following her passion for Cheyenne and for the chance to help Cheyenne be the best it can be. She wants Cheyenne to be as great as the people who live here. She wants Cheyenne to be a place that attracts young workers and companies, a place that her children want to live when they grow up, and she wants to be the Mayor to give back to this community.
So without further ado, I give you Amy Surdam, the next Mayor of Cheyenne.
You Will Be Tackled
Early this morning, I sat in a room of 800 people eating scrambled eggs, bacon, and drinking coffee as we celebrated and supported our youth. The Boys and Girls Club does an absolutely amazing job for creating awareness of their organization, programs, and most importantly, children whose lives they actively change. I am so thankful to the leadership of this organization. Sam and Stacy Galeotos, Rolinda Sample, and Michelle DeHoff are just a few of the people who give so generously of their time and treasure to ensure a better tomorrow for these children and ultimately, our community. I am so thankful I was able to be a small part of today’s celebration.
Reggie Rivers, former NFL player, was the guest speaker. He so confidently said, “You will be tackled.” On the football field, in life, and likely, while running for office, being tackled is part of the game. He asked, “Are you prepared to be tackled? Or are you the kind of person who is going to break their leg or cry when you get tackled? If you are, then I can’t use you.” It really made me stop and think how I might respond to being tackled over the next 3-5 months of my campaign and then ultimately, in office.
I know I am fully capable, experienced, and ready to lead our City. I have had a long career leading others and organizations in the military, private, and public sector. I am use to managing multiple million dollars budgets simultaneously. Having vision and then strategically implementing the vision with a team is what I do. The job, the work, the elbow grease are something I have never turned away from.
However, today his statement made me ask: how am I going to respond to being tackled? I’d like to think that all of the other tackles in my life have prepared me for the ones that are coming. I’ve been practicing and conditioning myself for this very next play. Despite that, like Reggie, I can’t help but to hope I’m going to make it down the field in one piece. And, when I am tackled, that I can pick myself up and overcome. Just like the kids we celebrated this morning do. Every. Single. Day.
Speech for Republican Event May 15, 2016
My name is Amy Surdam and I’m running for Mayor of Cheyenne.
I want to represent this city,
manage the budget,
and facilitate our city staff to be more creative, flexible, and efficient.
I want to keep our community safe,
help our city thrive,
I want our next generation to have more opportunities than we have today.
I’m a fighter.
When I was young, I fought my way out of a less than ideal childhood and became the first person in my family to ever graduate college and then grad school.
When 9/11 happened, I joined the Army. I have been fighting for and serving my country ever since.
About 3 years ago, I nearly drowned. Despite fighting the waves, I was sucked away by an undertow and was rescued. In that moment, I realized that I wasn’t fighting for enough people. I wasn’t fighting for my community. I also realized that you can’t fight every battle alone.
1 out of 4 of our kids aren’t graduating high school, 22% of our workforce commutes in everyday, our downtown is struggling. When citizens bring ideas to the government they are often met with obstacles. We have a war going on in our own back yard and we are losing.
I’m going to fight for this community.
I have the experience as a leader, with finances, and management to help us succeed.
Together we can recruit and retain our workforce, revitalize our downtown, and have more transparency and consistency in city government. Together we can create a better tomorrow.
Leadership Wyoming Graduation Thoughts
Leadership Wyoming helped me grow both outwardly, inwardly, and up. I was forced to go to inner places that I have tried so hard to avoid. Tiny towns like Lusk and Kaycee started to remind me of myself: a little broken, a little weathered, but with hidden charm and resiliency. It seemed that in every little town I learned something.
I treasured the soft-spoken, unhurried conversations and the lack of ice machines and automatic hand dryers. I bought a lapel pin at each small gas station just so I wouldn’t forget my journey across our state and with myself. I have always loved Wyoming, but I found I really learned to love the prairies, the red hills, the deer, the mountains, and me. There are so many little treasures that are so hard to reach. I am so thankful that Leadership Wyoming helped me find them.
Last night at graduation I sat next to a delightful woman from Gillette. I told her that we were hurting for them and together we were going to help our state figure out a better tomorrow. In September, I would be back to Gillette with a little surprise and a lot of joy for their children. I told her that their smiles and happiness mattered to us, all the way down in Cheyenne. With tears she said, “you don’t know how much that means to me to know that you all care and that we haven’t been forgotten.” Nine months ago, I would not have been able to say that with such conviction and sincerity. I have always felt like we are one state and one community, but after being there, really being there, now I know it.
I lined those lapel pins on my table tonight and already I can’t remember which one I bought where, but it doesn’t matter, they will all stay near and dear to my heart.
Prepared for the South High National Honor Society:
What an honor to speak to such amazing, young bright people with such promising futures, ability to succeed, and ability to impact this world and the lives of others.
I am a Family Nurse Practitioner, President of the Children’s Museum, The Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority, and now a Mayoral candidate.
I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a runner, a coffee addict, and I am American Solider.
I am a warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the army values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself. I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American soldier.
For those of you that don’t know that is the Soldier’s Creed. These are powerful words and words to live by and today I want to talk to you specifically about three sentences.
I will always place the mission first.
When you think about what you want we often think of it in terms of a goal or an outcome. Another way to think of it would be as a mission. I’m sure you have had several missions and tonight one of them is graduating high school with this NHS distinction, maybe your next mission is to go to college, or join the military, whatever it is you have your end point and then consciously or subconsciously you lay out a plan on how to accomplish it.
I’ve had many missions in my life: graduating high school, college, graduate school, joining the military, and building the children’s museum to name a few.
I’d like to share with you a specific example from my deployment in the Dominican Republic. My mission during that time was to teach combat lifesaver to 1500 Caribbean soldiers over 10 days. Combat life save is what many soldiers learn so that when they are in the front line, they can provide life saving techniques to their fellow soldiers until they can get them to help. So here I have this clearly defined mission, but not such a clearly defined plan in how to accomplish that mission. The military is notorious for saying here is the end point, now get there. This was my first lesson with that.
First, I created an a bridge class, one that could be taught in a day instead of the typical two days, I secured the necessary supplies for the course, and was ready to go.
What I didn’t factor in were the obstacles that I would encounter a long the way.
The first day I showed up, I had a group of soldier with such a thick Caribbean accent that I could barely understand them. The next day, we had our Dominican soldiers come to class and most of them only spoke Spanish! In the first two days we had significant language barriers that we had to overcome. I had to quickly get and interpreter and adjust the class to being mostly a hands on interactive learning class rather than a lecture class. I had to adapt to accomplish the mission.
Around the eighth day, I started to get a little tired and felt like I wasn’t being an effective teacher. I had to overcome. I recruited some fellow soldiers to help me invigorate the class with different instructors.
We finished teaching the class and completing the mission because of a two reasons:
1. We always focused on the mission and didn’t stop short of completion. Rather, we figured out ways to adapt to challenges situations and overcame obstacles.
2. I became we. When I struggled, I turned for help. I didn’t say, I can do this on my own. I said, I need you. Will you help me? And WE were successful.
I will never quit.
My dad was enlisted in the military and so I had basic needs but was poor enough that I remember hiding in the bathroom of a birthday party when my friend opened her presents because I didn’t have one for her.
I loved school and reading. I dreamed of going to college. This was a huge dream considering no one in my family for generations had ever gone to college.
I studied hard in school, I took challenging classes, and my senior year I won a scholarship to live in Germany. But I didn’t go. I didn’t go because I knew that if I wanted to go to college I would have to pay for it myself. My senior year, I worked two jobs, saved every dollar I earned, just to go to college.
In my first year of college I met my husband and we got married when I was 19. After 10 years and 2 sons, we divorced. Again, I recognized that education would help me get out of my situation so as a single mom, I returned to school to get my graduate degree and joined the military, right after 9/11.
I went on to have a very productive and satisfying career in medicine, met my current husband and here I am.
I feel like I have gone through life always clawing my way out, but I’ve never accepted defeat, and I’ve never given up.
I was the first person to graduate college and then graduate school and now my children will all go to college if they want to.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
This is my favorite sentence in the Soldier’s Creed.
When I was in Mexico three years ago, I almost drowned. The waves were crashing against some rocks and the water was very dangerous. No one was allowed to swim and the day before a woman had been sucked away and died. I came up to some rocks that I could either climb over or when the waves went out, I could run in front of the rocks on the beach. There was a strange man sitting on some walks like a billy goat and I remember thinking how strange that he was sitting there. So the waves went out and I tried to run in front of the rocks, but I didn’t make it because the waves knocked me down. I remember thinking I would crash into the rocks and put my knees up for the impact, but I didn’t crash into the rock, because the undertow pull me away. I tried to stand up. The undertow pulled me away. I tried to stand up again, the undertow pulled me away further. This went on for about 5 minutes or so and meanwhile I am getting sucked out further and further, feeling more and more tired, thinking how can I get out of this? Can I get out of this? I might not get out of this. After awhile I really thought that I was going to drown. There were so many people on the shore watching, shouting at me, but then the man on the rocks came in and he walked to me like there was no undertow and he pulled me out.
He saved me. His name was Rudy and as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared.
After that I questioned my life and existence, and why was I saved that day?
What was I doing to help society especially my fallen comrades. What was I giving back?
Shortly after I was standing in a children’s museum in Bloomington and thought, we need this in Cheyenne and for our children so that we help our children grow and learn and be excited about education.
It’s important to take care of the people next to you and behind you, those you will never know in a time your will never see. It doesn’t have to be big like starting a non profit, it can be simple like volunteering your time and becoming a mentor. How? Spend time with others, be there, listen, encourage.
Desiree, Andrew, Donni, Codee. These are all people I mentor.
In Laramie County, 1 out of 4 children did not graduate high school last year. Those are your classmates.
Are there people you can help in your life, who are your fallen comrades? Identify them, reach out to them, say how can I help you, I have a resource and I want to share it with you. Together, “we” is so much more effectively than “I”.
In life, you will succeed. You have already put yourself in that position. You have worked hard in school, joined the NHS, and are soon going to graduate high school.
Keep doing that. Keep putting yourselves in those positions.
But I also want to challenge you to go one step farther: put yourself out there, expose your vulnerabilities to help impact the lives of others.
Remember, always place the mission, never quit and never leave a fallen comrade.
When I was 11 years old, my parents showed me pictures of Wyoming and told me I could have a horse. I lived in base housing in New Hampshire and so the idealistic west and a horse were very enticing to this young girl with a big imagination. Even before I stepped foot in this beautiful place, Cheyenne became my home. Full of promise and hope, this is the only home I have ever known.
I love everything about this community and its people. We are resilient, determined, family oriented, and kind. We take care of our own, fight for what is right, and out volunteer every other community in the nation. We are Cheyenne and we are unstoppable.
My name is Amy Surdam and I am running for Mayor of Cheyenne.
Every person in this community matters. Every person who comes here to visit and enjoy our town matters. Every person has value, a story, and a voice that matters. Your voice matters. My voice matters. Together we can be heard.
I am so thankful for all of the hard work and effort from the City staff and elected officials. They work so hard to make this city a great place to live. They are real people making real decisions and navigating the many processes that are necessary to make ideas realities.
We expect the fire depart to show up when our neighbor’s back porch is on fire.
We expect the police to come when our neighbor’s house is robbed.
We trust when we turn on the faucet that the water is clean, that the trash will be picked up, the pot holes fixed and the snow plowed.
I was thrilled when the blue bin came for recycling and I never thought twice about the process involved with having city wide recycling. Until now.
Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about many of the processes and people involved in running our city. I want to be a part of it and lead change. This city is great. We can make it better. We… You… me….us….together one voice moving our community into the future while cherishing and appreciating our past.
I have had the opportunity to give back to the City through my work for the Children’s Museum and the Downtown Development Authority(pause). This work has been the most fulfilling work of my life and I am so thankful for each day that I get to serve and better our community. The decision to run for Mayor was not an easy one, but it is the right one.
I want to assure you that my decision to run for Mayor will not affect the trajectory of the children’s museum. We have an amazing team with many hard working community leaders who are just as committed as I am to making the children’s museum a reality. We will have exciting news about our vision, progress and timeline in the next few months and are thrilled to move forward on this amazing place for our children. Our children are our tomorrow. They are our workforce, our leaders, and our next generation. The greatest gift we could ever give in life is to positively influence the life of a child. They are our future.
Being elected Mayor will allow me to further our downtown revitalization in a greater capacity. I am committed to helping our downtown become great again. We have accomplished a tremendous amount of work in the last year at the DDA and have laid the framework for a solid and seamless transition into the future.
And yes, I have four sons and feel like I live in a frat house. With the help of my amazing mother and husband, I have the capacity to serve my community. Yes, kids are coming and going, there are sticky hands, sometimes we eat cereal for dinner, sometimes there are jock straps on the dining room table, the dog runs away, the dog comes back, we laugh, we cry, we make mistakes, we learn, we do it all over again. It’s chaos, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because these boys are all learning how to give back to others in life. Last summer Jake decided to go to Africa to build schools and Lane sold lemonade to raise money for the museum. They are already impacting the lives of others. That’s worth every second of chaos. More than anything I want my boys to want to come back here and live when they grow up. I want to live down the street from them and watch my future grandchildren grow up. How can I help make that happen? I can roll up my sleeves and work for it.
We need a mayor who will listen to the city department heads and make sure they and the city workers have the tools and resources they need to not only get the job done, but to excel and exceed all expectations.
We need a mayor that is going to do something about the lack of housing in our community and find solutions to the development issues that we face.
We need a mayor that has a vision for the downtown and the amenities needed to make Cheyenne a world class city.
I am that Mayor and together….
We can make sure our critical infrastructure and services are strong…
We can find solutions and encourage development and form public private partnerships, examine codes and regulations, and find a way to increase housing in our community so that 22% of our workforce doesn’t have to commute in every day.
We can find answers and together we can weave a vision that makes Cheyenne the greatest city in American.
We can create a culture of positive thinking, flexibility, and work in creative harmony together towards a better tomorrow.
We can reflect our values in our actions and our community.
We can succeed, we can believe, we can achieve, we can do better, and we can do more.
We can have it all: the sunsets, the idealistic wild west, historic downtown, new construction, the dawning of a new day, and that horse that we were promised so long ago.
We can, we can, and we will.
On this page....
Enjoy a personal look at my experiences. Click here to review my blogs on healthcare and here for previous aeronautics blogs in the Fly Wyoming Newsletter. And please no negative comments! Being vulnerable is hard enough without all the cyber bullying!