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Q&A with U.S. House candidate Matt Jette

| May 18, 2022 12:00 AM

Editor’s Note: The Daily Inter Lake is republishing select answers from questionnaires completed by the candidates for U.S. House District 1 and submitted to the Montana Free Press. This is the second of seven (Libertarian candidate John Lamb and Republic candidate Mary Todd did not submit answers) to appear in print. The candidates are being published in alphabetical order by party.

Matt Jette, 49, relocated to Missoula in 2021 after previously living in Florida and Arizona. He is a teacher at Sentinel High School and also teaches in the political science department at the University of Montana. He has earned degrees from the University of Montana, Harvard University and Arizona State University.

Jette previously campaigned for public office in Arizona. He ran as a Republican in a 2010 bid for governor and registered as a Democrat to run for Congress in 2012 before switching his status to independent.

Jette has listed his policy priorities as health care reform, economic adaptability and improving education.

This biography was compiled with information from Jette’s campaign website, news reports, and a recent phone interview with the candidate.

Q: Polls indicate many Americans are concerned about the integrity of the nation’s democratic institutions. Both as a political candidate and as a potential member of Congress, what can you do to promote Montanans’ faith in American democracy?

A: On the one hand, what is at stake in this election is the recovery of the American mind and the protection of the American ideal and experiment. On the other hand, it is the health of an economic system that moves America together, an education system that is built of instilling virtue, and a health care system that provides quality care to all Americans that is of concern. What is at stake? I will argue it is the American mind itself; that is, there is real anger, frustration, and fear among people and, as a result, we have been focused on what divides and fictitious problems of the past and what we fail to do then is properly prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. Rights in America are to be protected, but the necessary obligation to do that well comes by way of proper education and citizenship.

Q: Housing costs are an increasing concern for many Montanans. What federal action would you support to promote housing affordability in Montana?

A: Housing is such a complex issue and has been for decades. From zoning restrictions and requirements and the duration of time and number of steps required to build new or improve existing homes to a changing economy that allows greater mobility (placing greater strain on certain markets), housing is falling victim to increased costs, lack of innovation, and bad public policy that has exacerbated the problems, not alleviated them. We will need to address the number of barriers for builders, explore new technologies in building plans and resources, and address how best to adapt to an economy for which “place” is being redefined.

Q: What do you see as the most important priorities for the management of federal lands in Montana? Should the federal government consider transferring some federally held land into state ownership?

A: Federal lands are essential to maintaining the health, beauty and goodness that is Montana and America. We are seeing private interests restrict our access to public lands, placing additional regulations on how they are managed, thereby squeezing more local farmers and ranchers. We are seeing these lands leased or sold for private interests, but at our expense. We are seeing the federal management of public lands become ill-suited to meet the wants and needs of local communities. Yes, I would discuss transferring some federal lands back to the states, for I hold to the belief that local control, and history provides us with plenty of examples, is far more advantageous than control from a distance. Forest, land and water management, sustainability, resource utilization and other important issues are in sum best addressed locally.

Q: In the event Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, would you support federal legislation that either guarantees abortion access or that, alternatively, establishes legal protections for life beginning at conception? What specific provisions would you like to see included in future federal abortion law?

A: I support Roe v. Wade, period. Do I believe we can lower the number of abortions? Indeed. The question is how. Yes, one can unwisely and incorrectly overturn the rights of women, but that merely changes the manner in which women will have abortions, often in unsafe and unhealthy environments. I believe better education is needed, better programs warranted to encourage, not discourage, giving birth, and a better system of support once a baby is born. For those who wish to outlaw abortion, I understand your point of view, but I fail to understand how your method or policy decreases the number of abortions. We need to finally move forward and have a better discussion, with participants who are serious about the goals, not merely concerned with winning votes.

Q: Do you believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected president in 2020?

A: Yes, without question. The winner-take-all electoral system, one built on monied interests, 24/7 news cycle, and vanishing competitive districts, have helped perpetuate the feeling that when one loses, one is robbed. This cannot be the case, for the focus on these conspiracy theories will eventually bring down our representative democracy from the inside and we, with this miscalculated belief that we are defending it, will in fact, be destroying it.

The Montana Free Press is a nonprofit newsroom based in Helena. To see the questionnaire in full, go to: https://apps.montanafreepress.org/election-guide-2022/.

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