2016 Election: House District 8

Republican incumbent Steve Lavin faces Democrat challenger Paige Rappleye

By Beacon Staff
House District 8 candidates Steve Lavin, left, and C. Paige Rappleye. Courtesy Photos

The Questions:

1. Are infrastructure improvements a major concern for Montana and, if so, what would you do to help pass a comprehensive infrastructure package?

2. Montanans rely on extraction-based industries for jobs, even as demand grows for clean and renewable energy in the region. How would you help employees in the coal, oil and natural gas industries maintain their livelihood, or pursue training in other fields in Montana’s changing economic landscape?

3. Given that the Legislative Fiscal Division has projected an ending fund balance that is considerably less than what was anticipated, what would be your budgetary approach heading into the session?

4. Should the state of Montana push to take more control of some federal land management?

5. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the 2017 Legislature, and how do you propose dealing with it?

Steve Lavin

Residence: Kalispell
Political Party: Republican
Family: Wife (of 25 years!), son, 22, daughter, 16
Occupation: Major, Montana Highway Patrol
Education: B.S. degree, MSU
Experience: Kalispell representative currently serving third term
Website: stevelavin4hd8.weebly.com or Steve Lavin for HD 8 on Facebook

1. Infrastructure improvements are a major concern for Montana. I worked hard and supported a major infrastructure bill in the 2013 legislature. The current governor, Steve Bullock, vetoed it. It was a very good bill for Montana, so it was very disappointing when he did. In the last session (2015), I again worked hard on a bipartisan solution to this problem. I supported a solution that combined using bonding and cash to pay for the projects. Again, the governor refused to collaborate and insisted on borrowing all of the money to pay for it. I’d much rather not put our taxpayers in further debt to accomplish an infrastructure compromise, and will continue, if re-elected, to work hard with both parties to get this done!

2. Jobs in these fields are very important to the state of Montana and the livelihood of our Montana families. I have always been a huge proponent of removing government red tape and oppressive regulations to help create more natural resource jobs. When we become more self-reliant, we don’t need to be as restricted by being reliant on outside sources. Traditional natural resource industries are a major driver for positive economics in Montana, and I will continue to be of support during my work in the Legislature.

3. The anticipated ending fund balance has always been a source of argument in the Legislature. The Democrats always seem to want to exaggerate these figures so they can continuously grow state government. Our (Republicans’) approach is to be a good steward of Montana citizens’ tax dollars and follow a more conservative path, using caution instead of bloated projections. I’ve enjoyed serving on the House Tax Committee for three sessions, and I hope to continue to do so if re-elected.

4. I believe Montana should pursue more local control of federal land management. Who knows better how to manage the land that we live on — bureaucrats in Washington D.C. or Montanans? I think we (Montanans) do, and I look forward to seeing what can be accomplished.

5. Jobs and the economy. We need to work hard to help Montana improve with respect to good-paying jobs and a vibrant economy. As stated earlier, removing oppressive government regulations and red tape is a great start. We can get this accomplished by creating a favorable tax climate for Montana citizens and business. We should also look for efficiencies in state government. I’d like to see a climate where my kids (one who is attending graduate school out of state) come back to Montana to a good-paying job and a great place to raise their families!

C. Paige Rappleye

Residence: Kalispell
Political Party: Democrat
Family: Married with three children
Occupation: Nonprofit administrator and organizer
Education: Some college; many certifications in specific educational fields
Political Experience: Active in community political groups; first time running for office
Website: facebook.com/cprapp4HD8

1. I think that Montana is in great need of infrastructure improvements. Our roads are feeling the burden of our growth and our vehicles are paying the price. All of this takes a toll on our pocketbooks and makes it unsafe to commute and explore. Personally, after listening to the testimonies of last session and the grievances that followed, the best way to pass an infrastructure package may be to remove the universities and museums from last session’s bill, recalculate the balance and try again. I believe that the university system needs funds as well, but I don’t think that it belongs in this bill and I think that it may help it pass.

2. My hope is that the state will be able to work with these clean, renewable energy industries to train our existing workers and use them in new fields. As mines close down, we will need people on the ground in the cleanup efforts as well; those jobs will take a long time if done properly. Just as the legislators look at important bills such as paid family leave, I hope that our leaders who are concerned with the fate of these workers, as I am, consider their pensions and benefits, and consider how best to transfer those to their next employer so that they are not lost. These men and women have risked their lives doing this work and we need to take our time with this transition.

3. My approach is relatively simple: Putting People First. We look at the “weakest links” in our chain: the low income, our indigenous people, folks currently not covered under our state’s nondiscrimination policies, children without health care coverage, people in need of mental health care, our special needs communities, our unemployed, the elderly, our public schools, etc. We make sure that these are safe. Often, we add jobs by the programs we add, to protect our people and our infrastructure. Then we look at our beautiful environment and do what we can there.

4. Public lands should stay public. Period.

5. The divisiveness in our politics and our communities. My hope is that we can find common ground and work together to get things done for the state. I am running to represent my neighborhood, not to point fingers or play games. I’m hoping everyone else is going to Helena for the same reason.

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