A fresh face will represent the residents of House District 6 next year, with two political neophytes vying to replace longtime Republican lawmaker Carl Glimm.
Both Democrat Jerramy Dear-Ruel and Republican Amy Regier have never previously run for public office, but each brings a distinctive background to a race that will be decided by voters in northwest Kalispell and southwest Whitefish. Glimm, who is barred from running for reelection by term limits, is a candidate for office in Senate District 2.
Regier, 42, is a registered nurse with a familiar last name in Northwest Montana politics. Her father, Keith Regier, is a former House majority leader who is running for reelection in Senate District 3 this cycle, and her brother, Matt Regier, is unopposed in his race for a third term in House District 4.
Amy Regier, though, said her political ambitions came not from her family but from what she sees as a threat to her community from “liberal policy.”
“I was born and raised here in Kalispell and have seen changes both good and bad,” she said. “I have seen what liberal policy has done to big cities elsewhere and I would really like to keep Montana the place that we know and love.”
Dear-Ruel, 38, comes to the race with a broad array of personal and professional experience. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer, detention officer, law enforcement park ranger and the founding executive director of Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless high school students. Dear-Ruel said he believes his diverse background is one of his strengths as a candidate.
“I’ve got a wide perspective on things and more of a bigger picture (understanding) of how it all plays together, and all of it is interwoven,” he said.
In addition to operating a community consulting firm, Dear-Ruel currently works as a case investigator for the Flathead City-County Health Department helping manage the spread of the coronavirus, and he said that if elected his first item of business would be making sure the virus is brought under control. He said preparing for the rollout of a vaccine and putting together relief packages for small businesses and individuals who are struggling must be done before other issues can be addressed.
As a nurse, Regier has also dealt with the coronavirus up close but cautioned against what she sees as expanded executive power that has allowed for the imposition of emergency orders during the pandemic, including regulations that she believes have damaged businesses.
“Limiting how many people can be in a business, we’ve taken some personal responsibility out of it,” she said. “I still wonder where we’re headed, how much damage has been done in the past six months.”
Regier said the top of her priority list in Helena would be “limiting government growth” and allowing taxpayers to “keep their own money.” With the state expecting a difficult budget battle in the face of diminished revenues, Regier said she would be “looking at ways we can be more efficient” and not at increased taxation.
Dear-Ruel, meanwhile, said he wanted to dig through the state’s finances and prioritize spending that impacts people’s daily lives, specifically mentioning emergency services in rural areas. Beyond controlling the pandemic, Dear-Ruel said he would also focus on creating “greener jobs,” driving wage growth and expanding affordable health care.
Regier won her first contested political race in the June primary, handily defeating veteran lawmaker Bruce Tutvedt. Dear-Ruel was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
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