“I’ll work just as much with Republicans and Democrats because honey works better than vinegar,” says Representative Mike Jopek (D). He recently filed paperwork for re-election to State House District 4, seeking a third term in the state legislature representing the greater Whitefish area.
The co-owner of Purple Frog Farms, who is known for his down-home style, plans an old fashioned campaign of listening and talking with voters. Like his previous two campaigns, he also continues to refuse political action committee (PAC) campaign money.
“I tend to do much more listening to folks. People know what they want and how we can make their lives easier and better,” says Jopek. “It’s presumptuous of politicians to assume we know.” Jopek credits voters with bringing things that need to happen to his attention, referring to the debt foreclosure bill he sponsored.
In addition to serving on Taxation and Agriculture committees and currently a member of the House interim committee on Revenue and Transportation, Jopek sponsored several bills in the last legislative session that passed into law or moved into study. He points to bills clarifying gravel pit regulations, finding property tax reappraisals tools, and keeping public lands accessible.
“Whitefish is a very unique town,” says Jopek. “We have the highest concentration of state public lands.” Jopek, who has been working on the public lands issue for six years, says that he is finally seeing movement. “It’s disappointing that government moves slowly,” he says, “but realistically if we’re interested in preserving those lands, that issue will take time.”
In his previous two elections, Jopek refused to take political action group money. “PAC money comes with expectations, and it’s such a powerful force,” he says. Despite refusing PAC money, Jopek won his last election by two-thirds vote. “I think the work we’ve been doing talking with folks is paying off,” adds Jopek.
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