Build the Future

By Beacon Staff

Whitefish voters already received their ballots in the mail. They are due back on Nov. 5. Any eligible citizen who did not receive a ballot can vote at the election department at 800 South Main Street in Kalispell.

Montanans enjoy same-day voter registration, which assures citizens in Whitefish, Columbia Falls or Kalispell who may have moved can still vote – even early, at the Kalispell election department.

Most Columbia Falls and Kalispell voters simply wait until Election Day and cast ballots in traditional polling booths.

Voting is likely the single most important decision citizens make in determining what type of community grows around their town.

The Washington shutdown shenanigans were coordinated by male ideologues wanting to defund healthcare. It bluntly reminded citizens that voting matters.

After 16 days of shutdown a solution emerged in Washington. At the center of the bridge building consensus were women senators.

Two Democrats, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Jeanne Shaheen, teamed up with two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. These women essentially told the vastly male Congress to grow up.

Time Magazine ran a headline saying, “Women are the only adults left in Washington.” The magazine’s byline said, “Look out, old boys’ club.” Twenty percent of U.S. senators are women. Most of the Democrats in the Montana House are now women.

In Whitefish, half the city council candidates are women. But currently no women serve on the Whitefish council.

Pam Barberis, who advocates for bike and pedestrian paths, recently said, “The sense of community here is amazing. We live in a neighborhood where we know all our neighbors, and share with them all the great things that make this a great place to raise a child.”

Jen Frandsen grew up on a farm and is used to hard work. The businesswoman is active organizing the downtown Whitefish Farmers Market and serves on the board of the Youth Image Project.

In Columbia Falls, Jenny Lovering is the lone woman candidate. Columbia Falls currently has one female councilor. Lovering has worked as a Columbia Falls High School teacher since 1999 and is director of the Columbia Falls Community Garden.

Lovering said, “I don’t want to change Columbia Falls, but I want to see it grow and become a place where my children and students can return to live and work.”

In Kalispell, Sandy Carlson is running in Ward 1. Carlson works for the American Red Cross and is a board member of the Daybreak Rotary and Flathead Youth Home. Carlson said, “I have a real strong belief in volunteering and community service.” Carlson supports better sidewalks, bike paths and a revitalized downtown.

Kalispell’s Ward 3 candidate Karlene Osorio-Khor says that she was prompted to run because of the city airport controversy. Osorio-Khor intends to cast her referendum vote against airport improvements and supports a big push to revitalize downtown Kalispell, even mentioning a farmers market.

Kalispell currently has one woman city councilor, plus retiring Mayor Tammi Fisher. Municipal Court Judge Lori Adams is running unopposed for election after being appointed to the bench last year.

The five women running in contested races in the upcoming city elections are likely new to campaigning. But given their diverse background and dedication to their local community, they are all well qualified to serve.

City voters decide if the policies and politics of these women candidates or the men contenders are more in keeping with personal values. It’s voting that builds the future.

Voting is easy. Whitefish voters should return their ballots now. Voters who moved, or didn’t get a ballot, but live in the city of Whitefish, can vote between now and Tuesday, Nov. 5 in Kalispell.

Columbia Falls and Kalispell citizens can go to traditional polls on Tuesday or vote early at the election department.

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