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It sure seems like in 2016 a lot of people may seek top-of-the-ticket alternatives

By Mike Jopek

For many, national elections are geared up to be about the lesser of two evils. Every day it’s more apparent that Democrats hold a similarly unfavorable view of Republicans’ presumptive nominee as Republicans hold of the Democrats’ choice.

Those perceptions will hopefully change after Labor Day. Summertime is when voting people tend to spend more time outdoors and enjoy less time following the unfolding political drama.

Last month the Beacon ran an online Associated Press story about how voters feel disconnected, helpless in 2016. According to the new poll, both Republicans and Democrats strongly feel that their parties are unresponsive. Neither party was seen as very open to new ideas.

A man who’s made fortunes selling tomatoes pledged to spend $1 million backing Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson is the former governor of New Mexico while his running mate is the former governor of Massachusetts. That’s an experienced ticket that will likely gain support.

Republicans, for their part, have been trying to bump Libertarians from the general ballot for a while. The past several Montana legislative sessions worked to pass a two party general election, chosen by the primary. That’s neither great for Libertarians, independents nor democracy.

In 1992, independent presidential candidate Ross Perot garnered over 107,000 votes in Montana. In 2012, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson earned over 14,000 votes, while Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Dan Cox doubled that and garnered nearly 32,000 votes.

It sure seems like in 2016 a lot of people may seek top-of-the-ticket alternatives come November elections time. Though that frustration over an unresponsive Congress isn’t felt as prevalently at the local level. Most people believe Montana is on the right track.

Bashing the Fed seems like political sport, oddly like football. Locally, most still recognize a simple need to get stuff done. The primary election is over and hopefully we’ve sent the best and brightest onward toward the fall elections.

After serving in two of Montana’s three 50/50 split legislative sessions –where neither party held political advantage, I saw a need for more moderate-minded people in Helena. The ability to compromise was a key attribute to moving forward.

I got to know the even temperament of Whitefish legislative candidate Dave Fern about 20 years ago as he served on the local school board. Over that time Fern has proven a steady voice on local school issues.

In a recent letter in the Whitefish Pilot, Fern wrote about state tax policy needing to be fair. Fern wrote, “Both Republicans and Democrats like myself ought to recognize the great injustice that has been placed on many homeowners in Whitefish through a glitch in the system.” It’s fixable but it will take a law.

After decades on the farm, it’s apparent that some stuff just needs to get done in order to grow. It’s much the same in our Montana Legislature that meets for just 90 days every two years. The ideologues will hoot and holler. It’s pragmatists who get the work done.

The state general fund is a diverse portfolio of incomes derived from sources like public lands or corporate income and gambling taxes. Generally, the more money state lawmakers allocate to fund kindergarten through college education during the biannual budgeting process, the less taxes local homeowners and businesses later contribute when paying property taxes.

Our Legislature has a basic constitutional duty to balance the state budget and fund public services like education. Capping property taxes for people living in their homes would be welcome.

I saw Fern at this season’s first downtown Whitefish Farmers Market and he stopped by our on-farm produce stand. Fern earned a solid reputation around town and is well known as hard-working and community-minded.