Opinion

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Reality Check

Crossroads Between Love and Infrastructure

When a position on the Montana Transportation Commission opened up, I applied

I have been a proponent of infrastructure investment for many years. I view such an investment as a national security imperative, key to a humming economy, and job security for skilled labor. Granted, I have a bias. Few women can say they fell in love on the Kalispell Bypass. I did. When I was mayor of Kalispell, the first portion of the bypass was built. It was 2010, and the economy in the Flathead Valley was dismal. It was imperative to get the bypass project off the ground to support our economy, get our road builders working, and to give our valley hope for the future.

But when the project was let, the low bid was procured by an out-of-state large contractor. I was furious, as I had hoped a local road builder would be awarded the project. So when the construction executive from the winning company called to meet with me near the project’s end (part of his job was to take the local officials for a tour of the project) I not-so-politely deferred … twice. My assistant was exasperated and told me to “suck it up” and go on the tour. She recognized my loyalty to local road builders, while admirable, was not a good reason to turn down a meeting with the company that helped Kalispell’s economy get back on track. Besides which, all of the sub-contractors on the job were local, so the contractor should get some credit. I was persuaded.

So I went for the tour and fate struck. The out-of-state construction executive and I hit it off, and we were married just over a year later. And since moving from Montana has never been an option for me, the construction executive moved to Montana and now works with a local road builder. As fate would have it, when the rest of the Bypass was completed, the local road builder my husband works for obtained the winning bid, completing the project early and on budget.

Most of my friends know our story. So it came as no surprise that when a position on the Montana Transportation Commission opened up, I applied. The governor submitted my nomination and it was approved by the Montana Senate last week. My district – District 1 – covers Lincoln County south through Ravalli County. We have a lot of infrastructure needs in our district and I am excited to get to work researching, evaluating and contributing to the commission’s discussion and decision making. I am grateful to the governor for the nomination, the Montana Senate for their confirmation, and I am especially grateful to Montana Department of Transportation Director Mike Tooley for informing me of the position. If you have infrastructure concerns, please contact me at tammifisher1@gmail.com.

Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.