Monday, December 06, 2021

Why would you say no?

by Jack Ballard
| November 14, 2021 12:00 AM

I’m running to be the next member of Congress from Montana’s eastern district because I’ve devoted my life to this state’s people, land and wildlife. It pains me to see our lone representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Matt Rosendale, ignore the needs of the people he was elected to represent.

He voted against badly needed pandemic relief across Montana and the rest of America, declines to challenge the price-gouging of corporate meatpackers who are driving family ranchers out of business and disregards the interests of workers who are directly responsible of our country’s prosperity but continuously see their hard work enriching upper management and stockholders instead of themselves.

The infrastructure bill that just passed with bipartisan support is a prime example. It invests in critical maintenance and improvements throughout our state and country, but Rosendale didn’t even take a seat at the table.

Why would you vote against things like critical upgrades to the Milk River irrigation project which is a lifeline for the Hi Line? We have roads and bridges in dire need of repair and improvement in Billings, Great Falls and elsewhere across the state. Citizens in rural areas desperately need access to high-speed broadband service to compete in business and provide kids the internet access they need for education.

Why would you say no?

The infrastructure package is a boon for our state, including rural areas and Native American communities. It will help keep drinking water clean, modernize wastewater treatment and improve rural healthcare delivery. It funds clean-up of abandoned, toxic mine sites, maintenance of forest roads and trails, and helps return Amtrak’s passenger rail service across southern Montana. It invests in forest management to reduce wildfire risk. The bill also modernizes ports along our borders to improve trade. These projects will create thousands of good-paying jobs in our state that don’t require advanced education.

Why would you say no?

We can do better. Especially when we work together. I applaud the 13 Republican members of the House of Representatives who bucked their party’s self-centered leaders and are directly responsible for the infrastructure bill’s historic investment in our nation even though they may have disagreed with some of the details. That’s the model we desperately need for leadership. And now the folks who Rosendale hangs out with in Congress are angrily trying to kick these courageous representatives out of Washington.

I pledge that as your next Congressman, I’ll always work for the good of the country and partner with representatives from any party to move us forward. My family made a living on a hardscrabble ranch through hard work. We also helped our neighbors, caring less about their politics than the good of the community. That’s the attitude that gave us an infrastructure bill that we’ve needed for decades. It’s exactly how I’ll work for you in Congress.

Jack Ballard is a Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Montana’s eastern district. He lives in Red Lodge.