Voting Time

By Mike Jopek

Last week, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester helped veterans open the Veterans’ Center at Flathead Valley Community College. The facility helps veterans with benefits and college. Afterwards, Tester was to present the Bronze Star to the family of a World War II veteran.

Tester was at Whitefish City Beach to support Rep. Ed Lieser. Lieser has done a great job at representing the Whitefish area. Lieser, a Vietnam War veteran and a retired forester, said that he would continue as a strong advocate of local jobs, keeping public lands open, clean water, and better access to healthcare.

During the last Montana Legislature, Lieser served in the tax and natural resources committees. In the Legislative interim Lieser has been active on the Environmental Quality Council protecting our public lands.

Lieser is a stout advocate of keeping taxes low and fair, and public lands in public ownership. In the upcoming January session of the Legislature, the bigger issues will be property tax reappraisal and management of public lands. Most trust Lieser to be on the side of reason.

Public Service Commission candidate Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh was also at City Beach with Tester and Lieser. I’ve worked with Hollenbaugh in past Legislatures and found him to be one hard working individual. Hollenbaugh is solutions oriented and has an amazing ability to work with anyone toward better policy.

Hollenbaugh spoke briefly about how the current PSC has spent the past year rubber-stamping rate increases for the power industry. Hollenbaugh said that consumers see a double digit increase in rates thanks to the current PSC.

Hollenbaugh campaigns in a PSC district that includes the Flathead. The current all-Republican, five-member commission has become highly ideological and approved big rate increases onto homeowners and small businesses while snubbing power from small independents that produce cheaper power from wind.

Hollenbaugh is no rubber-stamper. Hollenbaugh is one of the good guys, not politically divisive and known to get things done. That’s good news for anyone looking for real solutions from real people.

Given the shockingly ideological decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, political surrogates can dump unlimited money into Montana to tarnish U.S. Senate candidate and Butte Rep. Amanda Curtis as something she is not.

Tester said that it is frustrating to see political surrogates misrepresenting the reality that the solvency of Medicare has increased 10 years under his watch.

Oddly it doesn’t much matter what candidates say or do in office, some will now twist the record with endless television ads. With millions of dollars of secret money pouring into Montana elections, the only choice left to voters is trust.

While serving in the Legislature, Curtis sponsored nine bills, two of which became law. Curtis sought to use state lottery revenues for scholarships to help students afford college. Curtis worked on energy usage disclosure in state public buildings. Curtis worked to make roads safer. And Curtis worked on a cost of living adjustment for volunteer firefighters.

Curtis sponsored the Hire Montana First Act at the request of Gov. Steve Bullock. The bill provided incentives to hire more Montanans to public works projects and certain construction facilities.

Lieser supported Curtis’ Hire Montana First Act as did Tea Party darling, Rep. Champ Edmunds of Missoula. All other Flathead House members opposed debate. It’s unfathomable to many voters why some oppose hiring more Montanans for local projects. But in Helena, that’s just politics.

Ballots are now in the hands of many voters. How many voters cast a ballot is the No. 1 decider in outcomes. If young voters, women voters and middle-class voters want reason or change, then cast a vote. Voting is simple and it matters greatly for up to six years to come.

Mike (Uncommon Ground) Jopek and Dave (Closing Range) Skinner often fall on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to political and outdoor issues. Their columns alternate each week in the Flathead Beacon.

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