Julian Valdez is custodial supervisor at the State Capitol in Cheyenne. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

During Wyoming’s legislative session, the bills, budget and lawmaker battles tend to hog the limelight. But when photographer Mike Vanata recently visited the Capitol, he couldn’t help but notice the behind-the-scenes workers who make the operation run so smoothly.

Day Custodian Supervisor Kristin Davidson. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Beyond the buzz of activity surrounding budget amendments, lobbyist testimony and bill introductions, Vanata said, “you will see that the snow is plowed, the floors pristine and the lights on.”

Vanata turned his lens to these behind-the scenes workers. The resulting portraits, he said, are “a salute to all the people who work at the Capitol, even after the chaos is over.”

Building Ground Specialist Andrew Lujan. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Wyoming’s citizen Legislature occupies the historic Capitol building for only a fraction of the year. During that time, session staff consisting of clerks, computer operators, doormen, messengers, secretaries and assistants ensure the orderly flow of legislative proceedings.

Carpenter Chad Jarvis. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile

The downtown Cheyenne landmark doesn’t empty out completely during the remaining months. The governor and his policy staff continue to work in the building. Meanwhile a year-round staff of lawyers, fiscal analysts, researchers, information officers and others comprises the Legislative Service Office, which serves as the permanent, non-partisan staff for the Legislature. 

Support Wyoming photojournalism with a tax deductible donation.

Other employees maintain the grounds. With the Capitol’s $300 million renovation on display, visitors are coming from all over to see the curving wooden stairway banisters, towering archways, stained glass ceilings and ornately decorated rotunda.

Terry Hubka works as a custodian and all-around helper during the session. (Mike Vanata/WyoFile)

Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Sad part of the story …. the lawmakers can approve $300 + million to renovate the capital ( a landmark) but fail miserably in approving or even considering a livable wage increase for the hard working people that show up at 4 am to keep the walkways clear when the weather is snowy, work in the heat of the day in the summer to maintain a manicured landscape, it is great to recognize folks for their commitment and dedication but that pat on the back doesn’t put food on the table and provide basic needs for these hardworking people, how can these lawmakers look in the mirror much less look at any of these employees knowing that a groundskeeper after a year is still at $10 an hour…… that’s pathetic at best,

  2. Thanks to the hard working state employees keeping the capital ship shape. It is beautiful and you should be proud!

    1. These are exactly the type of picture I want to see more of. These are the people that I find the most interesting.