1. What steps would you take to work across the aisle in Helena to be an effective representative for Montana?
Montanans are not as polarized in their views as conventional wisdom would have us believe. Solutions to the problems that Montana faces don’t have to be partisan. I will forge relationships and foster honest, respectful conversation with both those who do and those who do not agree with me. In my career I learned to start policy conversations from a point of shared values, and I plan to bring those legislative skills to Helena.
2. What is your solution to state budget woes?
Our state budget is a moral document. Funding schools, public health, infrastructure, emergency response and policing are things we can all agree on, even if we disagree about how or how much. We need to raise revenue and distribute the tax burden more fairly. Tax breaks which benefit out-of-state corporations at the expense of all Montanans should be reevaluated.
3. What is your plan for health care? Would you extend the HELP Medicaid expansion act?
Taking care of each other is the right thing to do. People should be able to get care from a doctor when they are sick, regardless of their income. Medicaid expansion in Montana has been a clear success. There are fewer Montanans without coverage, uncompensated care in hospitals has been reduced, and Montana projects $22 million in savings for the state’s general fund as a result of medicaid expansion.
4. What is your position on coal development in Montana?
Montana communities which have grown around the mining industry are at risk. We need to recognize their dignity and contributions to our state. Facilitating a gradual shift toward other unionized jobs with living wages for Montana communities is one of my priorities. Coal in Montana is expensive to mine and transport. The market movement away from coal-fired electricity production will likely continue. Tax incentives to businesses diminish the long-term tax base of our economy.
5. What is your position on state funds for pre-kindergarten/early childhood education?
Pre-K programs have been shown to prepare children to succeed, to reduce special education costs and to allow parents to stay in the workforce. State investment in pre-K will help serve those children who may be on a waiting list or who may not be eligible for Head Start, yet struggle to afford private preschool. The long term economic returns of investing in pre-K will benefit all of Montana’s sectors.
6. Do you support allowing religious schools to participate in a state tax credit program for private schools that allows up to $150 in tax credits for donations made to scholarship programs?
I support the right of parents to send their children to private schools. Our obligation as taxpayers and citizens is to maintain high quality public schools that are open to all and free of charge. Taxpayer money should not be diverted from that.
7. Why are you the best candidate for your party? What do you list as your priorities?
I am dedicated to being a responsive public servant to the people of HD 25 and a good listener. In this campaign I have already knocked on over 2,000 doors, and once elected, I will continue to focus my time and attention on constituents. My experience building relationships with lawmakers to advocate for Montana’s postal patrons gives me a unique skill set which I am committed to using for my community in HD 25.
8. What other issues are you concerned about?
Reviving the fight to provide a presumptive disability benefit for firefighters is important to me and to my community. It is the job of Montana’s Legislature to safeguard the integrity of society by standing by our public servants. I will make the provisions of Senate Bill 72 a top priority.