2016 Election: House District 1

Republican Steve Gunderson faces Democrat Steve Haarstick

By Beacon Staff
House District 1 candidate Steve Gunderson. Courtesy Photo

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?

Democrat Steve Haarstick did not provide responses.

Steve Gunderson

Residence: Libby
Political Party: Republican
Family: Happily married to my best friend for the last 37 years; two great sons, one beautiful daughter-in-law and two fantastic grandchildren
Occupation: Self-employed businessman
Education: Graduated from Libby High School; Montana and North Dakota Army National Guard, Staff Sergeant as a Combat Engineer Senior NCO
Political Experience: 10 years as a citizen advocate promoting local mining and other natural resource extraction projects with the goal of bringing back good-paying family wage jobs to Northwest Montana
Website: www.gundy4mthd1.us Facebook: www.facebook.com/mthd12016/

1. Montana badly needs a comprehensive infrastructure bill to continue maintaining/improving our aging infrastructure statewide. In the 64th Legislature, there was a common sense and fiscally responsible Republican bill presented to Governor Bullock, which he vetoed. The governor’s own “All or Nothing” package was not fiscally responsible. There needs to be partisan cooperation within and with the Legislature to maintain our balanced budget as well as pass a comprehensive infrastructure bill. I will do what is necessary to help craft an infrastructure bill that is both common sense as well as fiscally responsible.

2. The “War on Fossil Fuels” is a misguided effort to control people and economies rather than to benefit the environment. We need to double our efforts to continue supplying affordable energy for Montana. If other regions don’t want to purchase affordable energy from Montana, then let’s light and heat Montana with our own affordable power. When the other regions wake up to the fact that low cost alternative energy sources do not exist, they will be knocking on our doors to purchase our greatest resource. I believe we can and must keep our fossil fuel industry moving forward.

3. Balanced and common sense, but at the same time there will be decisions made that will not be popular with everyone in Montana due to the fact that the last administration spent without thought of how to balance the budget, which we are mandated by the state constitution to do. The 65th Legislature will be required to make the hard decisions. I hope to be a part of that decision-making process as a member of the Natural Resources and Transportation Committee. I believe we can accomplish this task given a governor that will work with, rather than against, the Legislature.

4. Most emphatically YES! Northwest Montana has lost historical natural resource extraction industry infrastructure to the predatory litigating groups that subvert our well-intended environmental laws. ESA, EAJA and NEPA are being used to kill mining and logging, literally killing our forests in the process. State-level management would mean oversight by the Montana DEQ and DNRC of how we manage our local resources. We need to produce a pilot project that shows we can manage our public lands in an environmentally and economically sound way. We need to prove that local/state control will be a better solution than the “one size fits all” management of the federal government 3,000 miles away. We need active management rather than the passive management practices that are the current norm.

5. I believe the 2017 budget problems will be the most pressing issue. As a freshman legislator, I’m not aware of all the solutions in the toolbox yet, but I am willing and able to help make the hard decisions we will need to make as we face the negative budgetary issues in the 65th Legislature.

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