Saturday, January 28, 2023

Meet the candidate: Pam Holmquist

| October 28, 2022 12:00 AM

Incumbent Republican Pam Holmquist is running for her third term as county commissioner. While her name appears on the ballot alone as no Democrats filed for the position, candidate Jack Fallon, who lost in the primary election in June, has registered as a write-in candidate. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Age: 69

Family: Wes, three adult children and many grandchildren

Occupation: County Commissioner, small business owner in Evergreen for 40 years

Background/community involvement: Life Member NRA, Montana Association of Counties Chair of District 10, member of Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, member of Flathead County Republican Woman, member Glacier Pachyderm, member of Eagles Auxiliary, member of Kalispell Pool League, served on the Evergreen Water & Sewer board for many years, Flathead High School graduate

Why are you running?

I want to continue to protect individual property rights, public access and your tax dollars. My experience and knowledge of what a commissioner's role is will be beneficial as the county faces future challenges and opportunities. I have built relationships with legislators and senators both in Montana and Washington D.C. These relationships have already benefited our community in many ways, such as when I traveled to Washington D.C. with other elected officials and businessmen and we secured funding for the bypass. I want to continue to work on moving the detention facility to a better location and building a septage receiving facility to accept sewage that is pumped from septic tanks. I still enjoy coming to work everyday and solving problems just like I did in my small business in Evergreen for 40 years.

What's your top priority?

My top priority has always been to keep property taxes in check and still provide essential services. I have always advocated for capital improvement accounts to fund future needs including a detention facility which will probably be the most expensive endeavor the county will face. I have always voted no when detention facility funds were moved to other projects. My goal is to get one or both of the current commissioners to move a detention facility forward as soon as possible. Staffing shortages have been one of the biggest challenges we have faced in the county over the last couple of years. I will continue to try and address that with benefits and wage adjustments when funds are available.

During the county budget cycle the sheriff asked for additional funding beyond the 15% increase in the department’s budget approved by the county commissioners. Do you think the county should increase funding for public safety?

The county was capped at a 1.7% increase in property taxes this year. The 15% increase in the sheriff's budget was the lion's share of new tax dollars that we received. I have always been an advocate for public safety in our community. What should be considered is that the sheriff's office is not the only office that provides public safety. In many cases the first responder to an emergency is a 911 dispatcher who sends the necessary resources to various situations. This could be the sheriff's department, police department, fire districts, highway patrol and a variety of other agencies. After the incident, the county attorney gets involved if a crime has been committed. All of these agencies provide public safety for our community. The commissioners can adjust the sheriff or any other departments budget at any time if there is a compelling need and funds are available.

If voters approve a 3% local marijuana sales tax, where do you think the revenue should be directed?

If the voters approve the 3% tax then those funds should be directed to the county departments most affected by the legalization of marijuana. Of course, the sheriff's department would be considered. The sheriff left over $600,000.00 unspent in the last budget cycle largely due to vacancy savings (or the inability to fill open positions). By the end of this year the county will provide additional funding to the sheriff for six positions. Two of those positions are grant funded now but would have been eliminated if we hadn't provided the funding for them to continue. Four of those positions are new. Many of our county departments are in need of additional funding as we see record inflation driving the cost of doing business up.

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