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Northwest Montana 2024 state Legislature primary voter guide

by Daily Inter Lake
| May 24, 2024 12:00 AM

Ahead of Montana’s June 4 primary election, the Daily Inter Lake sent questionnaires to state Legislature candidates running in contested races in Northwest Montana. Candidates were instructed to keep their answers to each of the four questions to under 150 words. Answers were lightly editing for brevity, clarity, Associated Press style and grammar.

Senate District 5

Republican primary

Name: Matt Regier

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Not provided

Family: Not provided

Background: Not provided

How would you address property taxes?

Across our state and especially in the west, property taxes have become unmanageable. At the state level, we could provide relief by mitigating the state property tax rate. In 2017, I supported House Bill 558, which would have lowered the state property tax rate. It died before getting to the governor's desk. In 2021, House Bill 636 would have done the same. Unfortunately, it didn't get out of committee. The state has a surplus and can do with less revenue from homeowners. Also, rather than go to the general fund, the state could return 3% of the bed tax back to the city or county of origin to help pay for the local infrastructure needs that are partly caused by tourists. The state could also return the lottery revenue where it rightfully should go, the Teachers Retirement Fund, creating less strain on property tax payers. These are a few simple ideas the state could implement to help relieve property tax burden. 

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

The state can help lower the price of housing by getting out of the way. Growing up in the Flathead in the 1990s, I used to see signs all over stating, "This family supported by timber dollars.” It is no coincidence that our lumber mills are gone along with those signs. All of the decisions by elected officials to stop managing our natural resources has contributed to rising housing material cost. Housing demand has risen with the influx of migration. I don't blame anyone for moving here. There is no better place on earth to live, work and play. However, Montana doesn’t have to spend state dollars on a marketing blitz in New York or San Francisco to get people to come to Montana. The state needs to do a better job of protecting life in Montana and not incentivizing out of state change. 

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

No, it does not need to be changed but it must be read correctly. Our constitution states "The right of individual privacy is essential …” Even in this question the word “individual” was left out. I fully believe in individual right to privacy as our constitution clearly states. I recognize the courts and even this question attempt to mislead. When it is no longer only an individual but other individuals involved, then the state has an obligation to be involved. Examples are a parent may not physically abuse their children, nor can you steal another individual’s private property, or cheat on your taxes — all of which involve/affect other individuals. Article II of our constitution doesn’t need to change, we just need to hold the liberal judges and liberal media accountable for changing it to fit their politics. 

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I am the proven and consistent conservative candidate. My track record in the Legislature is one of small and efficient state government. I was trusted last session by my colleagues to lead as Speaker. I am pro family, pro parents, pro life and the only candidate in Senate District 5 to be endorsed by the NRA. Last session, I supported lowering the state income and business taxes and I would like to go back to Helena to eliminate the state income tax on Social Security. I also have built rapport with my colleagues to be an effective and influential voice for the people of Senate District 5 even before the session begins.

Name: Marquis Laude

Age: 65

Occupation: President, CEO and owner, Integrated Security Solutions, Inc., and president and CEO of Advanced Electronic and Security, Inc., with more than 40 years of experience in the security industry. 

Background: U.S. Army veteran and Protective Services Agent while in uniform; contributor to volunteer organizations; served on or presided over various boards to include the American Society of Industrial Security, International Narcotics Association, Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Foundation, Certified Homeland Security, Criminal Investigators Association and National Technical Investigators Association; currently serves as a reserve sheriff deputy with Flathead County.

How would you address property taxes? 

With my business experience in managing multi-million dollar projects, I will identify solutions that will reduce the burden of expenditures and cut wasteful spending for taxpayers. I will lead on the issue on property tax reform. Montana's property tax system is forecasted to collect $2.1 billion in 2023 from 18 property tax classes representing $259 billion of total market valuation. The property tax revenue allocation is divided as: 56% to schools, 28% to counties, 11% to cities/towns, 4% to special districts, and 1% to the university system. The legislature sets the tax rate for each class of property, the Department of Revenue, centrally appraises property, and local government/schools define the mills needed. Wasteful spending like the facelift of the Capitol and other non-essential programs need to be cut or revised. Alternate sources of revenue for the state need to be identified and implemented. 

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

With my experience as a business owner, I will address the issue regarding the lack of affordable housing. Remove burdensome zoning regulations and advocate for more affordable housing projects. This state has seen a significant increase in population growth following Covid. The drastic increase in construction costs (labor/material), housing projects have slowed or stopped in several communities. The desire to live in Montana brought people in from around the country flooding the state with new residents and subsequently driving up the value of property in Montana, making construction and purchases of property difficult. While there has been such a distinct increase in population and rise in property value; community workers, first responders and service people simply cannot afford to live here. 

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

I will protect the rights to our privacy at all costs and I will not suggest or support any changes of the intent to protect. I am concerned about the enforcement of the constitution to include the Armstrong vs. State of Montana ruling. In 1972, when the Montana Constitution was re-written, the lawmakers and citizens agreed that in order to maintain a free society, the right to privacy is essential. This protects our citizens from unlawful intrusions. Since then, information technology and electronic data exchanges have changed the way we conduct our daily activities, which broadens the scope of privacy elements. Social media, buying and browsing on the internet are all considered information that’s available via electronic collection elements. While we have individual privacy rights in our constitution, the expansion of these rights to cover these new elements should be looked at to maintain the intention of the Montana Constitution.  

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I am not a politician. I am a strong leader and know how to protect this community and Montana citizens. I have been a law enforcement officer for over 40 years with over 20 years in Montana. I’ve taken an oath to protect the citizens of this community and multiple oaths to protect this country being in the military. I own and manage one of the largest companies in the Flathead Valley with over 120 employees that protects critical infrastructures around the world. Not only do I know about the problems in this community and state, I know how to work for and identify solutions. I’m driven to protect the people of this community without political agenda or personal gain. I’m a man of integrity and I will fight for what is right. We cannot afford to have another politician playing games with our safety. 

House District 2

Republican primary

Name: Tom Millett

Age: 58

Occupation: Independent contractor/consultant

Family: Married, 2 grown children

Background: U.S. Navy and Persian Gulf War Veteran, 40-plus years’ experience in the

nuclear, electrical, power generation and telecommunications fields

How would you address property taxes?

Enact a low property tax rate on primary residences (aka Homestead Tax Rate) and cutting non-essential services out of the state budget to line up with the expected lower revenue.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

Remove burdensome regulations and zoning restrictions to allow the free market reign.

Does the state constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

No.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I’m active in the community, attuned to the political issues facing us, accessible to the people of House District 2 to hear their concerns and provide guidance, battle-tested from having fought against local governments and boards when they wanted to take away our freedoms and liberties during Covid, and offer constitutional solutions instead of kicking the can down the road.

Name: Thomas ‘Tom’ Jenkins

Age: 77 

Occupation: I’m a retired GMC/Buick dealer

Family: I’ve been married 53 years and have six daughters. 

Background: I was born in Kalispell and went through the seventh grade. Our family moved to Libby in the early 1960s where I lived since.

How would you address property taxes?

I have paid my property taxes on time every year. I believe everyone should pay their fair share. I believe they can be more equitable, there are committees and study groups looking at property taxes, and want to take part in that process.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

Some Montana communities have unused schools and vacant buildings that could be converted to apartments. Perhaps we can encourage or offer incentives to encourage the private sector to create more housing. I am a believer in less government and more private business.

Does the state constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

We have six daughters and many descendants. I believe in the baby’s right to life as well as the mother’s right to physical and mental health. Abortion should not be a method of birth control; there are morning after pills and of course adoption. I would leave that section of the constitution alone.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

The best candidate is the person who had lived his entire life in Northwest Montana, who spent over 30 years running a GMC/ Buick dealership in downtown Libby, who helped build Libby Dam to pay his own college expenses, who paid income taxes since age 13, paid property taxes in Libby and Middle Thompson Lake, whose RN wife spent a long medical career managing Libby Care Center and retired from The Center of Asbestos Related Disease. I am that person who wants to use his business experience in the Montana Legislature.

House District 3

Democratic primary

Name: Debo Powers

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Retired public school teacher and principal

Family: Not provided.

Background: I served as the Representative for House District 3 for 14 months after being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2019. I live in House District 3 north of Polebridge off the electric grid in a solar-powered house surrounded by public land.

How would you address property taxes?

First, the Legislature needs to equalize residential property taxes and corporate property taxes, which is required by the state constitution. Because this has not happened in many years, residential property taxes have increased by $259 million while corporate property taxes have decreased by $76 million. This needs to be equalized. Secondly, one way to lower residential property taxes is with a homestead exemption (which would be a reduction of the taxable value) that would only be available for those who live here full time and pay their income taxes in Montana and not for those who own second and third homes here.

How would you further address Montana’s housing supply?

The problem with housing is that it is difficult for those with low to middle area medium income to find a home that they can afford. There is no “silver bullet” to solve this; rather a combination of public and private solutions need to be implemented. First, local solutions are best. We must empower local communities to find solutions by restoring local control over zoning and growth management rather than mandates from the Legislature. Second, a mixture of incentives to build affordable housing and deed restrictions that control the price that subsequent buyers pay for these houses could go a long way toward solving the problem.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

Absolutely not. We have one of the best state constitutions in the nation that grants an array of rights and freedoms. One of those basic rights is the right to privacy. The state constitution should not be changed to limit or decrease our rights and freedoms.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

First, I am the only candidate (Democrat or Republican) who lives in the district. It is important that the person who represents the district be involved in the community. The representative should understand the culture, the people, the land, and the communities in the district. You can read my list of community involvement on my website at: www.powersforthepeople.us. Second, I am a public-school champion having spent 34 years working as a public school teacher and principal. Our public schools are struggling to meet the needs of students because of a broken public school funding formula that relies too heavily on local levies. I want to work to change this. Third, I am a public lands champion with a long record of advocacy and volunteer work on the public lands in House District 3. Ninety-three percent of House District 3 is public land.

Name: Guthrie Quist

Age: 42

Occupation: Real estate, property management and filmmaking

Family: Married to Summer Quist, 2 children

Background: Fourth generation Montanan born and raised in the Valley. Attained the "White Letter" for athletic excellence and graduated with honors from Flathead High School. Directed a documentary about the Montana Special Election of 2017 that won major European Film Festivals and will be released worldwide this fall. Founded Quist Montana Properties with my wife. Previously worked for congressional campaigns as an aide in Montana, Wyoming and New Hampshire. Raised money for the Montana Food Bank and Flathead Warming Center. Helped promote a ballot initiative with Water For Flathead’s Future. Previous candidate for Senate District 3.

How would you address property taxes?

Allow for a system where local year round residents can apply for a credit or reduction and secondary home owners and non-residents pay an additional tax to go towards first responders, roads, fire departments, police, public education and other vital services.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

I propose that we incentivize the conversion of short-term vacation rentals back to long-term rentals for local families by offering a property tax credit. Short-term rentals tend to sit empty nine months of the year and this makes them vulnerable to burglary as well as the elements. Short-term vacation rentals have also slowed down considerably since the pandemic and the consistent income of long-term rentals has reached parity. This provides a ready source of housing immediately that doesn't need to be built.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

Absolutely not. Our Montana Constitution is the envy of the whole country and what could be more central to the Montana way of life than the right to privacy?

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I have deep roots in the district. Both our children were born in Whitefish. One of my fondest childhood memories was fishing on the Whitefish River with my grandfather. My wife and I are very active in the local business and arts communities. From talking with younger constituents especially there is a strong appetite for a representative from the next generation. I have the capacity to serve Montanans for the next 35 years. Working, and having children in the community, I am deeply in touch with the needs of the area and our state. I recognize that the most vulnerable members of our community, veterans, seniors and children, are in need of support and services on a daily basis. Having seen friends and family suffer the consequences of drunk driving, immediate steps must be taken to reduce drunk driving fatalities and make the roads safer for our loved ones.

House District 7

Republican primary

Name: Shaun Pandina

Age: Not provided

Occupation: Self-employed businessman and entrepreneur. 

Family status: Married with four fifth generation Montanan children.

Background: See my complete bio at ShaunPandina.com.

How would you address property taxes? 

I will vote to lower property taxes. Due to the governor suing almost every county in Montana and my opponent voting against a special session to lower property taxes there is currently a surplus of property tax revenue. The Legislature can currently vote to lower the mill cap without cutting any funding. I also want to take a look at eliminating state income tax on Social Security. Taxing Social Security is like being charged to make a withdrawal directly from your bank. That money is your money, it was already taken out of your paycheck all the years you worked. You should not be taxed to receive it once a person qualifies to withdraw it. To find out more visit LowerMontanaPropertyTaxes.com.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

All Montanans are having a hard time finding affordable housing here in Kalispell. Far too often we hear of local Montanans being priced out of the area. There are many factors that contribute to this issue. Supply and demand is one of those issues. Recently the both the mayor of Kalispell and the Flathead County sheriff have admitted that there is a constant flow of illegal immigrants to our county. This drives up demand for housing driving up costs as well as increasing our crime rate. I am all for making a Montana law that says it is illegal to loiter in our state if you are not a U.S. citizen in order to round up illegals and ship them out. Furthermore, cutting red tape in the logging industry to lower the cost of materials for contractors will help lower the costs to build housing which will bring down prices.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it? 

There have been many Montana Supreme Court decisions based on the right to privacy. Some have been good and some have been poor in my opinion. I do not believe our right to privacy in Article 2 section 10 of the Montana Constitution should be changed just because judges go far outside their lane in interpreting what right to privacy means. The best course of action is electing better judges that is why I will be voting for Dan Wilson and Corey Swanson. Legislatively we need some judicial reform laws. Finally, I would be willing to take a look at the possibility that the legislature may need to clearly define the word “privacy” as it applies to the Montana Constitution.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I am the Republican running in this race. My opponent is running as a Republican, however she voted opposite of the Republican majority with the Democrats over 30 times in the 2023 legislative session as per LegislatorLoyalty.com. When you vote for Shaun Pandina on June 4 you are voting for the endorsed Republican. I am also pro Second Amendment and will not vote for laws that limit owning any guns or gun accessories. If you have questions or concerns, I am available to you. Contact me anytime at PandinaForMontana@pm.me. My endorsements are: Flathead Republican Central Committee; Montana Freedom Caucus PAC; ProLife Flathead PAC; Restore Liberty; Montana Conservative Alliance; Montanans for Limited Government. I will vote to: lower property taxes, combat illegal immigration, eliminate Montana tax on Social Security, reform the judiciary, strengthen the rights of parents to their children’s school records, strengthen election integrity laws.

Name: Courtenay Sprunger

Age: 42

Occupation: Current representative for Montana House District 7 and CEO/founder of Big Sky Public Relations.

Family: The daughter of Gary and Kay Burt, proud aunt of 13 amazing nieces and nephews, and mom to two pups and four spirited horses.

Background: In the 68th session of the Montana State Legislature, I had the privilege of passing eight bills including The SAFER Act, a $100 million match fund to improve Montana’s roads and bridges, increased trades education, the Adoption Tax Credit, and a bill to crack down on fentanyl traffickers. A fifth generation Flathead resident raised on the farm in Creston.

How would you address property taxes? 

Our property tax system is based on multiple revenue streams, including natural resources, which have dwindled over time, leaving homeowners to foot most of the bill for local services; this isn’t sustainable. In response, we should consider the following. First, increase taxes on homes owned by non-residents and offset the burden for resident homeowners. Second, increase our natural resources production. Third, reform the property assessment process. Fourth, set a 4% cap on local governments’ annual growth. Senate Bill 511 from the 2023 session provided a model. Unfortunately, the Senate killed SB 511 and then voted to go home. Many of these legislators are calling for special sessions to fix what they left undone. This is not just disappointing, it’s unacceptable. Addressing a problem of this complexity must be done during a regular session where the time and resources are available to fix things properly, not just put on a good show.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply? 

We must reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and empower the private sector to build on smaller lots if we want to increase housing inventory. We also need better trades education, which is why I sponsored and passed Career Technical Advanced Opportunities — it prepares workforce for the trades and our children with great jobs that pay a living wage for the Flathead. Before adding more reforms at the state level, we need to understand impacts of the multiple bills passed last session to create attainable housing. The most important is House Bill 819, which dedicates approximately $200 million toward attainable housing solutions such as aiding new homebuyers in accessing capital for a down payment. This legislation is still in the early stages of rollout. Numerous other zoning and planning reform bills also passed, many of which are tied up in litigation — this clearly shows why state solutions are rarely the fastest fix.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy?

The Montana Constitution states, “The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.” The right to privacy is a God-given right and it’s the state’s duty to protect that right. I wholeheartedly agree with most applications of the right to privacy. It is the Montana Supreme Court’s present interpretation of this right as it applies to abortion with which I disagree. As a pro-life candidate, I believe a compelling state interest includes protecting children, born and unborn; an individual’s privacy should not supersede that interest. Language in the right to privacy that defines protections for the unborn and with that, considerations for severe, rare circumstances such as rape, incest, and life of the mother, would provide important clarity.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district? 

As the present representative for Montana House District 7, I have a demonstrated record of success. In the 2023 session, I voted 94% with the conservative majority while passing eight out of nine of bills. There’s still significant work to do — particularly pertaining to property tax relief and skyrocketing crime. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and talked directly with my constituents about what matters most. This experience, coupled with my knowledge gained through successfully growing a local business into a multi-state company, and serving with organizations such as the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Montana Ambassadors, and CASA for Kids, has equipped me to understand the complex needs of our community and state. Beyond that resume, a lifetime in this community has taught me to love it and represent it fiercely and unapologetically — putting the people first — now and always.

House District 8

Republican primary

Name: Tony Brockman

Age: 38

Occupation: Business owner

Family: Bachelor

Background: Born and raised in Evergreen, I hold a B.A. in history and political science from the University of Montana. I own a content development business in Kalispell, and serve on various local boards. A member of both the Kalispell Daybreak Rotary Club and Moose Lodge, I’m a recipient of the Kalispell Chamber's 2022 Community Spirit and 2021 20 Under 40 Awards. I represent Evergreen and North Kalispell in the Montana House of Representatives.

How would you address property taxes?

I will not vote to leave the 2025 legislative session without comprehensive and meaningful tax reform that keeps folks, especially seniors, in their homes. Montana’s tax code is antiquated and out of touch with our state’s current realities; too many folks are needlessly losing their homes and the Legislature needs to act. The 2025 Legislature needs to reduce taxes on owner-occupied residential property, long-term rental properties and small commercial property owners. One of the ways we can do this is by reenacting the Homestead Exemption that the 2015 Legislature voted to eliminate. The Legislature also needs to address spending at local levels and tax shifts created by the loss of natural resource extraction and the significant increase in out-of-state home ownership.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

Government regulation accounts for roughly a quarter of building costs. I’ll continue to work with the Gianforte administration to reduce the burdensome red tape keeping homeownership out of the reach of Montana’s workforce. Last session, I supported House Bill 819, the Montana Community Reinvestment Act, to fund workforce housing through a public-private partnership model involving individuals, nonprofits and private employers. We can build on HB 819 in the next session and turn renters into homeowners to benefit working individuals and families. Additionally, I supported legislation that allowed for smaller lot sizes, the HOMES Act, and streamlining the subdivision review process. All of these pieces of legislation make homeownership more attainable for Montana’s working families.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

I am pro-life and don’t believe Montana’s right to privacy extends to abortions. Beyond that, I supported privacy bills such as Senate Bill 351, which protects genetic privacy, and Senate Bill 397, which regulates facial recognition technology. In our modern times we need to ensure our constitution is equipped to address modern privacy concerns.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

In my first term, I carried 16 bills that were passed and signed into law, more than any other first-term legislator in 2023. That legislation reduced red tape on small businesses. I supported returning our state's budget surplus to taxpayers through income and property tax rebates, supported much-needed infrastructure investments such as the Reserve Drive expansion and secured funding for phase II of the Evergreen Sidewalk Project. I ran for the Legislature in 2022 to ensure Montana remains a place where middle-class trades families, like mine growing up, continue to thrive. Born and raised in Evergreen, I’m a product of local schools. I’ve had the opportunity to serve our community through public and nonprofit organizations for over two decades. Representing our community in the Legislature isn’t just a resume builder for me. I am a believer that decisions are made by those who show up, and I remain committed to going to the mat for and putting the people of Evergreen and North Kalispell first.

Name: Lukas Schubert

Age: 18

Occupation: Startup business owner/student

Family: Unmarried

Background: I’ve been involved in grassroots efforts to get conservative Republicans elected since 2021. Last year I graduated from Glacier High School and now study at Flathead Valley Community College and own a small startup business. I am the secretary of the Flathead County Republican Central Committee and I serve on the county’s Transportation Advisory Committee.

How would you address property taxes?

Simply reduce the amount, something my opponent did not do when he introduced legislation to force Flathead County to pay port authorities, like the one he’s a board member of (FCEDA), using our property tax dollars (House Bill 530). We’re expected to have another $1 billion surplus, so it will be possible to cut the amount the state takes in from property taxes without cutting any services. We need to use at least some of the surplus to do this. Make property taxes based primarily on purchase price so people don’t get priced out of property they’ve lived in for decades and raised their families. This will benefit lifelong Montanans. There is already a 3% bed tax statewide on hotels and AirBnBs, increase this while cutting property taxes by the same numerical amount to put more of the tax base on tourists and less on Montanans.

How would you further address Montana’s housing supply?

Reduce taxes, fees and red tape in all facets of the housing sector, because when the price to produce and maintain homes is lower then the price they sell for and rent for will be lower, too. This is basic supply and demand. Deport illegal immigrants. This will free up housing, and thus increase the supply and decrease the price. Stop non-U.S. citizens who don’t live in our state, such as Chinese billionaires, from buying up property and then renting it back to us at a higher price. Globalist multinational conglomerates such as BlackRock should also not be allowed to buy up land and property, which drives up the price for the rest of us who actually live here.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

To clarify that aborting a child for purely elective reasons the day before it would be able to survive outside the womb is not a right.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

This district is a conservative district and I am the true conservative in this election, unlike my opponent who did not oppose making gender identity a protected class, at the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce candidate forum. Some of my top priorities in the Legislature will be cutting property taxes, tackling the high cost of housing and getting rid of far-left judges. I will also support taking action at the state level to deport illegal immigrants, heavily penalize businesses/organizations/individuals who knowingly bring illegals here and deter illegal aliens from coming here in the first place. Republicans have spent far too long being happy with second place. I’m running to ensure we never become another California or Colorado. That’s why we need true conservative patriots, not the same type establishment career politicians that turned those states over to Democrat desolation in the first place.

House District 9

Republican primary

Name: Lee Huestis

Age: 57

Occupation: Teacher

Family: Married with two children

Background: I was born and raised in Havre and spent my formative years working the family farm. I moved to Bozeman to go to school and met Lori Hollister, who I married in 1994. A twice-over cancer survivor, I went back to school and earned a degree in math with a secondary teaching certification. I took a job at Flathead High School as a teacher and have been there for 22 years. My previous careers included real estate and restaurant management. Kalispell is our home.

How would you address property taxes?

We need to close the loopholes that define residential properties and how they are appraised. I believe that everyone living here and using our resources should pay their full share.

How would you further address Montana’s housing supply?

I believe that this should be handled at the local level.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

Currently, there is no need to change the state constitution but rather address issues that may arise through legislation.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I am running to represent Kalispell and its people in Montana House District 9. As a native Montanan and long-time resident of this beautiful city, I sincerely believe that together we can do great things for our community. My desire is that I will be able to earn your trust and gain the opportunity to serve you as your Montana District 9 legislator.

Name: Steven Kelly

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired Sheriff’s captain

Family: Married

Background: I served 30 years in law enforcement and also worked for a company that develops policies for public safety agencies. I hold a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in management.

How would you address property taxes? 

I propose rolling back the property taxes to the 2020 levels and freezing them there. I suggest implementing assessment, rate and levy limits, which would set a maximum amount of property tax increases of all types. Additionally, I would explore other areas in Montana's economy where we could impose taxes that would have little or no effect on the property owners to compensate for any shortfall. Moreover, I propose increases in room taxes and the tourism industry. I would look for ways to increase productivity in some of Montana's legacy industries, like logging and mining, while keeping environmental protection in mind. The goal is to strengthen the state's revenue stream and prevent our citizens from bearing the brunt of the tax burden.

How would you further address Montana's housing supply?

In April, the U.S. Treasury announced it would allocate about $40 billion from the State and Local Recovery Fund to finance housing projects, including housing for essential workers. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is also releasing $6.9 billion to support low-income housing. With this kind of support from the federal government, the state may not need to spend more in this area. However, I would support enacting legislation to eliminate barriers to such projects and help expedite them.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

No, the right to privacy is sacred and should not be tampered with, especially given the increasing number of attacks on our privacy through the Internet and government overreach. Tampering with this constitutional right is a slippery slope and should not be abridged.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I have 30 years of experience working in government and applying the law. My expertise in writing policies has enabled me to gain insight into the laws across the country, including both good and bad legislation. I am committed to ensuring that I never contribute to creating bad laws and will actively advocate for my constituents' interests. My focus areas include property taxes, illegal immigration, public safety, veterans’ issues, the CSKT water compact, and other issues that affect their daily lives.

House District 11

Republican primary

Name: Edward “Ed” Byrne

Age: 59

Occupation: Retired Colonel, U.S. Army

Family: Single with two adult children. 

Background: U.S. Army and Montana National Guard veteran and graduate of the University of Montana. Fourth generation custodian of the family farm in the Creston/Lake Blaine area. Youth baseball and football coach. Served multiple positions in the Bigfork VFW Post 4042, including commander. Volunteer with county Republican organizations and currently serves as president of the Northwest Montana Posse of Westerners history group. Education includes a master’s from George Mason University, a master’s from Central Michigan University, Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

How would you address property taxes? 

As a property owner and one who has paid property taxes in the district for the past 21 years, I have seen the increases up close. Multiple solutions are required to address property taxes. Several include: 1. Reduce the Department of Revenue’s multiplier. 2. Return the 3% bed tax from the general fund to the counties of origin — this will allow our county commissioners to reduce property taxes. 3. Tax residential homes from time of purchase, increasing annual values only by the cost-of-living allowance. And 4. Remove state taxation for Social Security and simplify or remove property taxes for seniors living on income that is less than the median income of the county of residence.

How would you further address Montana’s housing supply? 

Be it attainable housing and workforce housing, there are approaches to each. The one commonality is the vast majority will be up to the private sector to accomplish the majority of solving them. Local, county and the state through the Legislature can address select rules and regulations to include permitting, subdivisions, apartment complexes, et cetera.

Does the state’s constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it? 

The premise of the question is inaccurate and incomplete in that it does not address “individual” right to privacy. Article II, Section 10 states “The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.” That said, since the Republicans have had the majority in the Legislature, they have done an excellent job in passing significant legislation that considers Article II, Section 10. However, the courts, and ultimately the Montana Supreme Court has muddied the waters on how the authors of the 1970 constitutional convention defined it going back to the 1999 Armstrong v. State ruling as precedent for myriad of rulings addressing privacy.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district? 

I am the proven conservative candidate for House District 11. I live in the district. My family has resided in this district (Creston / Lake Blaine) dating back to my great-grandfather in 1902. I am a Republican precinct committeeman in the district and know myriad neighbors, farmers and ranchers, many of which I call friends. I am “A” rated by the NRA and endorsed by the Flathead County Republican Central Committee; Montana Freedom Caucus; Montanans for Limited Government; Montana Shooting Sports Association; Republicans for Freedom; Patriot Roundtable; among others including nine local legislators, and other elected patriots and leaders throughout the community. My purpose in the Legislature will be to work to ensure the greatest amount of freedom for Montanans, this includes protecting life, liberty and prosperity.

Name: Rob Tracy

Age: 72

Occupation: Bigfork District School bus driver

Family Status:  Married, blended family, four boys, a girl and three grandchildren

Background: Business degree; Fortune 500 experience; entrepreneur-sole proprietor; former transportation director for Bigfork Schools

How would I address property taxes?

I see the most favorable is a homestead exemption that offers a lower rate to owner dwellings and long-term rentals that would effectively be covered by taxing the growing number of out-of-state-owned vacation homes and short-term rentals. I'm also closely watching the governor's tax task force on this issue.

How would I further address Montana's housing supply?

The state is not in the housing business, but it can do everything possible to ensure affordable housing can be built. Duplex, fourplex, manufactured homes, etc., that often are zoned-out are key to the solution. The state can also invest in and work to ensure the underlying infrastructure (water, sewer, road) has the capacity and is available to support additional housing.

Does the state's constitution need to be changed to alter the right to privacy? If so, how would you alter it?

The current interpretation of privacy is that it protects a woman's access to health care including all reproductive care. I am pro-life so I am not supportive of a privacy interpretation that puts the lives of babies at risk. Privacy does not mean that a child's life should be taken, especially while there are other options available and the mother's life is not endangered.

Why are you the best candidate to represent your district?

I was initially encouraged to run by neighbors, friends, school associates, local business owners and most recently by some legislators who view me as a responsive listener. I have true conservative values and will listen to all other factions to do what's best for the people of Montana. And I've proven I don't just offer ideas and solutions, I volunteer to make things happen and/or bring people together who can get the job done.