2018 General Election Q & A: House District 5

Incumbent Democrat Dave Fern vs. Libertarian Cindy Dyson

Name: Dave Fern

Age: 65

Occupation: Small Business owner, Chimney solutions

Political Experience: 8 terms Whitefish school Board, 1 term Montana Legislature, HD 5

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Place of Residence: Whitefish

1. I hope to be back on the House Tax Committee. The Committee approves one of two competing budget estimates (The legislative Fiscal Division and the Governor’s Office). Montana must have a balanced budget with additional revenues included within a rainy day fund covering unanticipated shortfalls. I’ll support a revenue estimate and a budget that is substantiated by the collections of taxes and a projection that seems most realistic to support the budget.

2. I voted for a tax increase within committee on cigarettes and nicotine delivery products. I support such an increase because it will lower usage, yielding improved health outcomes and revenue for the state.

3. I support an update on fees for services including professional licensing. Many of these fees have not increased for decades. I support a review on state tax credits and elimination of such credits that fail to produce desired outcomes. I support enabling legislation allowing local option sales taxes for cities and districts. I believe it must have voter approval, provide property tax relief, address infrastructure and be reconsidered for renewal no longer than 20 years beyond inception. I would hope that efficiencies through technology and changing demands by consumers result in a constant retooling of state services resulting in an improved product and savings. Following the special session in November of 2017, we learned just how sensitive the budget is to relatively minor disruptions. Vulnerable Montanans must be shielded from future cuts with proportional, common sense budget reductions.

4. Gallatin and Flathead Counties continue to out pace their peers in economic growth within the state. People choose to live here for different reasons. The Montana brand is strong and attracts visitors from all corners of the globe. Our natural attributes; rivers, mountains and forests attract economically established newcomers to the Flathead. In fostering such an environment, we need to pay attention to our urban environment with a growth policy that protects the environment and recognizes property rights. The legislature should continue to promote targeted tax breaks to attract businesses that produce physical and intellectual products.

5. State and federal agencies should communicate and collaborate to accomplish common goals.  These might include forestry policy, preventing invasive species in our waters, and addressing wildfire on public lands.  We need to continue to invest in infrastructure. My concerns include highway 93 west of Whitefish, Wisconsin Ave, and a safe bicycle path to Kalispell.

6. Housing prices are often too high excluding key components of our workforce. The Local Government Interim Committee passed several bills to address this issue. These bills move onto the legislature. We must improve services for our vulnerable citizens. People in need of in-patient care often wait or leave the state for services. Available beds for mental health and substance abuse issues are at a premium. We need to continue to invest in infrastructure. My concerns include highway 93 west of Whitefish, Wisconsin Ave, and a safe bicycle path to Kalispell.

Name: Cindy Dyson

Age: 51

Occupation: Writer

Political Experience: Political reporter, volunteer organizer for Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign, communication director for Gary Johnson’s 2016 Montana campaign

Political Affiliation: Libertarian

Place of Residence: Whitefish

1. We should remove restrictive professional licensing requirements to jump start the job market and legalize recreational cannabis so Montana doesn’t continue losing revenue and tourists to neighboring states. Many of these provisions would also cut expenses. For example, law enforcement, court, jail and prison expenses would be significantly less if we were not paying to arrest, judge, and punish cannabis users.

2. I do believe voters in towns across Montana should be able to raise local sales taxes if they decide it makes sense for their communities, but I would not support a statewide sales tax, unless it were a replacement for income and/or property taxes. However, I do support legalizing recreational cannabis and applying a statewide sales tax.

3. We need to prioritize taxpayers’ precious money by focusing on state services that are unreasonable to expect the private section, both for-profits and nonprofits, to manage effectively.

4. Fostering a stronger economy in Montana, I believe, is the optimal way to stabilize state revenue while also increasing opportunities for Montanans. We can do this by exploring right-to-work legislation, legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis, and liberalizing professional licensing.

The federal government owns more than half of Montana’s forested land. They have not been good stewards – losing money, embattled in courts, leaving landscapes vulnerable. Simply transferring management would be costly to Montana taxpayers and offer little reward in revenue, access, or conservation. Moving to state control with ownership of targeted lands, however, could have significant benefits to Montanans both in protecting the environment and raising revenue.


Affordable housing worries many

Whitefish residents. Unfortunately,

the city’s restrictive land use policies

exacerbate the problem. Rather than

pile additional government programs

that take from taxpayers across the

state, communities would be wise to

solve their own problems by revisiting

restrictive zoning to allow for innovative solutions such as tiny house developments and streamlining the building

permit process. Whitefish residents

also value ethical elections. Moving

to ranked choice voting would lead to

less acrimonious campaigns and ensuring voters get the elected leaders they

want. We are also concerned about

the two-tiered justice system that has

developed. With a growing incarceration rate, Montana is bucking national

trends. We are paying the price for this

in human harm and economic harm.