Flathead: Worth Saving

By Beacon Staff

Hey townies, please vote for a change. Municipal turnout is typically very low with most locals not voting. But local races offer townies a big vote on the type of community they want fostered.

When it all boils down, the deciding factor for most votes is still trust. Who do you trust as advocates for Columbia Falls, Kalispell or Whitefish? Who will put community before special-interest groups?

By design, politics have become quite ugly. Naysayers figure that if they make campaigns unpalatable, good and decent people may not run. But more insipid is the psychological aspect of negative politics. It paints everyone as a bunch of bullies and hooligans.

In the 2003 “Gateway to Glacier” report, former Whitefish Mayor Andy Feury said, “We as decision makers must look to the future and recognize the changing face of our economies in the West. The quality of our environment and the character of our communities are fast becoming major contributors to that economy. They are our most important economic assets.”

Kalispell Realtor Paul Wachholz added, “People in the Flathead Valley are waking up to the fact that we can determine the fate of our area. We can either sit back and watch what happens or step forward and direct what happens.”

There is plenty to admire about the Flathead. We have some of the cleanest water in the world. There are great opportunities to recreate on public lands. Big Mountain still offers quality “powder days.”

The business climate is friendly, diverse, and ever improving.

Our civil servants, like the firefighters, police, and teachers, are professional, well trained and approachable. This is a tribute to the Flathead and its people.

Open places like Spencer Mountain and Beaver Lake offer great trails for skiing, hiking and biking, encapsulated in the Whitefish Trail. Public beaches like Whitefish State Park, Les Mason Park, or City Beach provide a great summer swim for families.

The Flathead is renowned for our outdoor heritage, with wild lands and hometown people. It truly is the best place in the world to live.

The Flathead economy is driven by our amenities. We can ski, skate, swim, play tennis or soccer, and hike or bike. Then there’s the theater. We relish in the finest coffee in the world from Montana Coffee Traders and enjoy exotic sushi from Wasabi.

Our community offers fantastic new facilities like the North Valley Hospital and indoors health centers like the WAVE. The influx of nurses, yoga instructors and massage therapists, reflects our love for life.

A downtown merchants association, “The Heart of Whitefish,” continues to sponsor a world-class farmers’ market. The streetscapes in Kalispell and Whitefish offer fantastic walkability and smart business acumen.

But mostly the Flathead offers that great “quality of life” with its friendly community. It is, after all, the people, newcomers and old-timers, who weave the social fabric of our towns. Without good and decent people, our communities would quickly dissolve.

None of this was easy. It required the vision of our forefathers. It required a connection to the community and an understanding of what is important. It required trust. Trust in the future and trust in ourselves.

For the only mayoral race in the Flathead, voter confidence will be articulated by either trusting Turner Askew – a commercial real estate broker or trusting John Muhlfeld – a water hydrologist. Who will offer that next critical leadership for Whitefish?

For townies in Kalispell or Whitefish, voting starts this week. It takes five minutes to mail your ballot. Those who moved and did not get a ballot will have to go to the Kalispell courthouse, in the Earl Bennett Building, to vote. Do your duty, and vote for the Flathead you love.

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