GOP Primary Candidate Profiles: HD21, Ed Buttrey

Editors note: All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission contests in the June 4 primary election are Republican. HD21 candidate James Osterman did not submit a profile to E-City Beat. Here is the profile submitted by incumbent Ed Buttrey, unedited:

Personal Bio:

I am a 4th generation Montanan, born in Helena and raised in Great Falls.  I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, and formerly worked out of State as a weapon’s systems designer.  Thankfully, I was able to return to Montana, where I get to live, work, raise my family and realize the beauty of Montana every day. 

I have served in the Montana State House since 2019, and formerly served in the Montana Senate (2011-2018) where I have held leadership positions in each of my legislative sessions.  I served as a two-term Majority Whip in the Montana Senate and currently serve as the Chairman of the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee as well as a member of the House Rules Committee, the House Health and Human Services Committee and the State Broadband Committee.

I have also served as a member of many community boards, as a Fire Department Captain, Emergency Medical Technician, Search and Rescue Diver, Chairman of the Great Falls International Airport Authority, and as a varsity football coach and radio announcer.  This service is only due to the amazing support of my wife Jessica, daughters Kenzy, Macy, TayLee and mother Joan, all living locally in Great Falls. 

Reasons for Running for Office:

As an advocate for public service, I continually strive to find unique solutions and ways to help the people in our community and HD21.  Becoming a member of the Montana Legislature has been a great honor and has allowed me to learn more about the issues and needs of our State and the people who call it home.  The Legislature has offered a unique opportunity to enact policies in Economic Development, Healthcare, protecting our Military assets and families, and to promote for the well-being of Montana families.  I thoroughly enjoy finding solutions to help people and this is why I have run and continue to run for public office.   

Top Challenges:

In these trying political times, there are a number of challenges faced by our community and State that I hope to address in the upcoming Legislative session.  First of all, we are facing an economic crisis nationwide and statewide where the costs of living (food, fuel, housing, taxes) are providing challenges for everyone.  Through responsible budgeting, regulation relief, and tax reform we can ensure that Montanans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money.  I am working hard with others on a plan to finally implement a property tax system that is affordable, responsible and fair. 

We must also keep State and local government responsible and efficient, getting out of the way of business innovation and success, promoting housing development with regulation relief, and ensuring that we have a healthy and reliable workforce for our businesses.  Government can be part of the solution, and should help when needed, but more importantly should get out of the way to allow for individual responsibility and innovation, and to let our families and businesses succeed. 

Finally, we have critical issues with drug related crime and mental health.  While some may choose to bury their heads in the sand and hope these issues go away, the truth is that these issues are impacting everyone in our Montana communities.  If re-elected, I will continue to work to ensure that resources are available to provide help for those that need it, want it and are willing to do the work.  Everyone deserves a chance to succeed, to be respected and to contribute to the success of our great State. 

GOP Primary Candidate Profiles: HD22, George Nikolakakos

Editors note: All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission contests in the June 4 primary election are Republican. HD22 candidate James Whitaker did not submit a profile to E-City Beat. Here is the profile submitted by incumbent George Nikolakakos, unedited:

Name: George Nikolakakos
Office Sought: House District 22
Occupation: Businessman, U.S. Air Force (Retired)
Age: 44
Family: Wife (Melissa) Daughters (Story, Reagan, Melody, Abigail)
Education: BA, Excelsior College (U.S. History)
Military Experience: 20 years (Active USAF/Montana Air National Guard)
Organizational affiliations: NeighborWorks Montana (Director) Great Falls Development Alliance (Director) Veterans Treatment Court (Mentor)
Political Experience: Representative, House District 26 (Taxation, Human Services Committee)

It was the honor of my life to serve Montanans over the last legislative session. I’m running for re-election because I believe serving a cause greater than self is central to a well lived life and a healthy society. I was proud to pass seven bills over my first session cutting property taxes for low income seniors, boosting 2A rights and, as well as multiple bills cutting red tape for business. In the legislature I will continue to work hard at finding conservative solutions that address problems for hardworking Montanans.  

Last session was marked by conservative achievements. We met our duty to balance our budget and set the example for fiscal responsibility by bolstering our rainy day/fire funds. We paid down all existing state debt and established smart long-term trusts that will leverage and invest hundreds of millions in infrastructure, roads, firefighting, housing, and more. We shrank government and passed the largest tax relief in state history (over a billion dollars) both via long term income tax reductions as well as income/property tax rebates.

I am especially proud of the 300 million dollars we invested toward mental health infrastructure and the 40 million dollars we invested towards a health insurance trust supporting our teachers. From cutting taxes for military retiree pensions and enhancing service member spousal employment opportunities to investing in additional trades career & technical education space prohibits a full outline of the many legislative victories for Montana.

We still have work to do. Knocking doors in my district I continue to feel the pain inflicted by our broken property tax system. I am grateful to our Governor for appointing a task force of the brightest minds in our state to address the need for meaningful property tax reform. It is the most important responsibility facing our next legislature.  

We must focus on rebuilding our shrinking industrial tax base. A generation ago industry (mining, gas/oil, timber etc.) made up about 50% of our tax base. Today, as Montana has become a “scenery state” that burden has shifted to residential properties that now make up approximately 75% of the tax base. Long term solutions and pushing back against federal over-reach can resurrect our industrial base but in the meanwhile we can move on creative solutions like a homestead exemption (or something similar) for primary residences that would shift tax burden to the more than 1/5 homes in MT that are non-primary residences often owned by out of state folks. We should also boost sources of revenue that capture out of state tourist dollars as well as e-commerce and use them to pay down property taxes while boosting “circuit breaker” programs for those most in need.

Our state is also still running a surplus and we owe it to hardworking taxpayers to return it while also addressing critical mental health needs and the school funding formula.

In the legislature I will never forget that I have taken a step down to serve under people, not over them. I will work tirelessly to be of service to our community and always show up to listen and learn from people. I hope to earn the opportunity to continue serving Great Falls to the best of my ability.

GOP Primary Candidate Profiles: SD13, Lola Galloway

Editors note: All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission contests in the June 4 primary election are Republican. SD13 candidate Josh Kassmier did not submit a profile to E-City Beat. Here is the profile submitted by Lola Galloway, unedited:

What issues seem most important to your constituents during this campaign season? 

•Property taxes, thus losing assets to pay taxes

•Cost of living increasing everyday 

•Criminals illegally coming to our communities thus, squatters occupying vacant homes in our communities bringing drugs and the increase of criminal activities. 

•Medical costs, unaffordable insurance premiums and deductibles; Medical professionals’ required paperwork and not being paid by the federal program in a timely fashion, hurting their ability to pay their staff and stay in business. 

What topics need to be the Montana State Legislature’s top priorities in 2025?

•Refunding the  surplus from collected taxes and lowering future taxes, Property tax assessments

•Montana’s vulnerability to an energy shortage; what is the solution to make and keep energy made here in Montana? 

•Getting people back to work and lack of a labor force; too many don’t need to work because of government providing their basic needs if they stay below poverty level. 

My goal as a legislator is to get the citizens educated and then actively involved in the legislative process through open mic meetings, one on one training on how to electronically follow the bill process, look up and contact your legislators,  having YOUR VOICE back in government. 

I’m here to be THAT kind of a Senator for you.

Lola Galloway

GOP Primary Candidate Profiles: Eric Hinebauch, Cascade County Commission

Editors note: All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission contests in the June 4 primary election are Republican. Cascade County Commission incumbent Rae Grulkoski did not submit a profile to E-City Beat. Here is the profile submitted by challenger Eric Hinebauch, unedited:

I am 5th generation Montanan, that grew up on the Hi-Line near Chinook, MT. My family continues to operate the farm I grew up on. After graduating from the University of Great Falls, I ventured into entrepreneurship, establishing my own business, in 2011. As the owner of an insurance agency, with multiple employees, I am deeply rooted in our community. My vision is to help create a supportive environment in Cascade County, one that nurtures small businesses, fosters a prosperous economy, values a safe environment, and promotes sensible growth. At the age of 38, I bring a unique perspective. I strive to ensure that when my business journey concludes, Cascade County remains an affordable and thriving place to call home.

I believe in active community involvement. I love to support the people and organizations working to make a difference in Cascade County. Wrestling has always been a big part of my life and had the privilege of serving as the CMR Assistant Wrestling Coach and Great Falls Central Catholic Head Wrestling Coach spanning a decade.  I have proudly served on several community boards in the past including the Heisey Youth Center Board, Saint Ann’s Parish Council, GF Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee and Great Falls Development Alliance. I continue to be involved as a Rotary Club member and serving on the Benefis Foundation board and as University of Providence Trustee.

I served as a Great Falls’ City Commissioner and dedicated that time to effecting positive change. I helped clear encampments in downtown areas. I advocated for diversity of viewpoints on various city boards, ensuring fresh perspectives were represented.

Public safety has always been a top priority and I’ve actively sought ways to support our safety services, even when faced with budget constraints.

I collaborated with the City’s planning and development department to simplify processes, fostering a culture of exemplary customer service.

Yet, the challenges facing Cascade County transcend city boundaries. It’s imperative that we rebuild trust in our county government. Effective communication is key, ensuring that citizens are well-informed and involved in decision-making processes. Operations within the county commission office are in disarray, necessitating improved methods for daily decision-making are a priority. As our county experiences growth, meticulous planning is essential, not only from a developmental standpoint but also concerning public safety.

Amidst the turmoil in the Elections Office, it is essential we move forward. It’s incumbent upon the county commission to ensure that Terry Thompson receives the necessary support and training for success. Decisions have been made, and despite personal reservations, we must forge ahead, endeavoring to regain the trust of voters.

Why choose me? The relationship between the city and county has been strained for years. However, my rapport with Mayor Reeves presents an opportunity to mend this division, fostering collaboration for the betterment of our community. Unlike many newly elected officials, I am prepared from day one. I possess a comprehensive understanding of budget intricacies and municipal governance responsibilities. My approach is proactive and resolute, with a singular focus on realizing Cascade County’s full potential.

Cascade County must prepare now, with sensible growth planning, so when the anticipated population boom from Malmstrom’s missile upgrade comes, we are ready. We have many opportunities in the agri-processing sector, but we need leaders who will ensure our land and water ways are protected, while we maintain our Montana ways.

I’ve got the energy and tenacity to work hard every day to help lead Cascade County through the coming opportunities. If you’re ready for fresh leadership, I’d appreciate your support.

Eric Hinebauch

GOP Primary Candidate Profiles: HD20, Steven Galloway Vs Melissa Nikolakakos

Editors note: All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission contests in the June 4 primary election are Republican. Here are the profiles submitted by the candidates in House District 20, Steven Galloway and Melissa Nikolakakos, unedited:

Steven Galloway

I am Representative Steven E Galloway currently serving my second term in HD24 and campaigning for HD20.

Appointed to Business and Labor , Local Government,  Vice Chair Energy and Technologies

I was selected and serve as a State Delegate to The Energy Council, PNWER, NCSL,ALEC and others. I attend as many conferences as possible to gain knowledge and insight from other legislators and experts on subjects from around the country and the world to better represent you. I have zoomed in with The Council on Foreign Relations, The White House Intergovernmental Affairs and other organizations. I have had weeklong zooms with international contributors on issues. I participate on think tanks dealing with licensure, energy, election integrity and workforces decreasing numbers. This is above and beyond my representative’s duties often requiring travel away from home, family and work.

Energy is a very complicated and diverse subject to be involved with and as Vice Chairman I have invested a great amount of time and gained a fair working knowledge of it. We will need to stream line processes to allow prompt development of production and transmission of power to sustain our growing needs. We were an exporter and we now import energy. I passed HB749 Providing for advanced conductor cost-effectiveness criteria to aid our energy needs.

I helped facilitate meetings with local officials prior to last session and continued dialog during session by zoom on Wednesdays at lunch time which benefitted our community.

Almost 50 years ago I started out scrubbing toilets and making beds in my parents motel, I contracted in the construction field for 12 years and we currently operate multiple family run locally owned businesses.

I was born and raised in Great Falls. I am a 3rd generation  Montanan and my grandkids 5th.I am married to my lovely wife of almost 43 years. We have 6 adult children with 15 grandchildren and 1 GREAT grandchild. They  are my motivation to serve, frankly you couldn’t pay me enough to do this job.

I have refereed and coached sports. Served on boards. Served at church as teacher, counselor, auditor, executive secretary, and currently as facilities rep  overseeing  10 church buildings.

I have introduced 43 bills and passed 18 of them into law, Including (2021) session HB-438 for VETERANS and  HB 298 which increased transparency on your property tax assessment.  I have introduced property tax legislation in both sessions that would have helped primary home owners and we will try again. We need to look at a total revision of the property tax code, focusing on the processes of the valuations and assessments.   See them all at leg.mt.gov. Proudly endorsed by Gun Owners of America, NRA, Montana Sports Shooters Association, Montana Family Foundation to name a few. I have also been recognized for my constitutional voting record by  CPAC  with a 94% score and 100% score withTheFreedomindex.org.

___________________________________________________________________________

Melissa Nikolakakos

Name: Melissa Nikolakakos
Office Sought: House District 20
Occupation: Teacher
Age: 41
Family: Husband (George) Daughters (Story, Reagan, Melody, Abigail)
Education: BA, University of Montana (Education)
Organizational affiliations: Girl Scouts (Unit Service Leader) Raising Readers (Board Member)

As an educator, 4th generation Montanan, mom of four, twenty-year military spouse, and involved community member I pride myself in serving others. I’m running for office to bring common-sense conservative solutions to Helena and create a better community for our kids and families. Born and raised in small-town Montana I want to ensure those time-tested values are at the front and center of our legislative process.

A quality education for our children with deep parental involvement is my passion. I’ve served as a pre-school president, led with the “Raising Readers” Program (since merged by First Lady Susan Gianforte with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library) serve as a Girl Scout Service Unit Leader, and have served countless times as a PTA president. I’m committed to giving back and serving our community and kids and will work tirelessly every day in Helena to that end. 

We face many challenges in today’s political climate. Property taxes, inflation, and out of control housing costs are driving families from their homes and real reform is needed now. Fiscal responsibility and low regulation are the centerpieces to a strong economy, the backbone of a healthy opportunity driven society. This next legislative session we must enact significant property tax reform that offers meaningful relief to primary residence home-owners, bolster career and technical education and the Teach Act, and return a significant portion of the budget surplus to taxpayers.  

There’s much more but the simple fact is that today both political parties are failing our people. It’s time to retire out of touch self-serving politicians and elect every-day Montanans who want to civilly solve problems rather than create constant conflict and chaos. I’m ready to bring real-world experience and Montana values to Helena to do just that. I look forward to visiting and hopefully earning your vote to serve our community to the best of my ability.

School Trustee Keeps Seat, Fringe Left Blog Urges Dems To Vote GOP, And More

Incumbent GFPS trustee Marlee Sunchild beats challengers to retains her seat on the school board, from KRTV:
GFPS School Board Election Results (krtv.com)

Democrat blog WTF406 urges Cascade County/Great Falls Democrat voters to vote for Republicans in the upcoming primary, from WTF406:
Vote In The Republican Primary? – What the Funk (wtf406.com)

Major power outages and power infrastructure damage in Central Montana, from FOX/ABC NonStop Local:
More than 36 power poles broken, 3 miles of power lines down in White Sulphur Springs area | Montana News | montanarightnow.com

Rosales: Sunchild Rental Agreement With GFPS Employee Is Conflict Of Interest

Editors note: (Photo – Marlee Sunchild and Tony Rosales) GFPS School Board candidate Tony Rosales recently took to Facebook and issued a press release (see below) claiming a conflict of interest on the part of school board incumbent candidate Marlee Sunchild. The press release doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinion of E-City Beat or any of our contributors and is not a campaign endorsement for any candidate.

From “Tony Rosales for MT” Facebook page:
“Sunchild’s newly discovered ethical oversight is a concern for anyone committed to the highest standard on our school board. Great Falls deserves better.”

Link to full press release:
TRMT Press Release – GFPS Board Conflict of Interest 04262024.pdf – Google Drive

June 4 Local Primary Features All GOP Candidates, No Dems

All of the local Great Falls/Cascade County legislative and county commission candidates appearing on the upcoming June 4 primary election ballot will be Republicans.

Today E-City Beat sent an email to all of those candidates requesting a candidate profile and their reasons for seeking office. We will publish their responses without edits or editorial comment

Stay tuned for E-City Beat’s continuing coverage of all local elections, issues, and candidates.

Here is the list of primary election candidates:

HD19
Derren Auger
Hannah Trebas

HD20
Melissa Nikolakakos
Steven Galloway

HD21
Ed Buttrey
James Osterman

HD22
George Nikolakakos
James Whitaker

HD23
Pete Anderson
Joshua DeNully
Eric Tilleman
John Proud

SD13
Josh Kassmier
Lola Galloway

Cascade County Commission
Rae Grulkowski
Eric Hinebauch

Cascade County Libertarians Respond To Jasmine Taylor’s Attacks

Editors note: The following is a press release sent out by the Cascade County Libertarian Party. The press release doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinion of E-City Beat or any of our contributors and it is not a campaign endorsement for Tony Rosales.

Leatherbarrow Invites Taylor for an Honest Conversation about Local Family Business

GREAT FALLS, MT, April 24, 2024 – On April 23, 2024, Jasmine Taylor released a video claiming that Kevin Leatherbarrow, co-owner of Go & Grow Education Services, LLC, was using Tony Rosales’ campaign to funnel business from Great Falls Public Schools to Go & Grow. Taylor never reached out to Leatherbarrow or anyone else at Go & Grow to verify these accusations. It is shocking, and frankly sad, that anybody would attack a local family-owned business based on weak political attacks and motives. To Leatherbarrow’s knowledge, Taylor lacks any true understanding of the relationship between Go & Grow and GFPS.

Taylor’s accusations are defamatory in nature and assume that Go & Grow would use a political campaign to gain any advantage. In fact, Leatherbarrow has publicly stated during an Autism Task Force that he would work pro bono with students who were lacking services if asked. The Task Force was formed by Lola Galloway – a Republican representative – where Leatherbarrow – representing Go & Grow – was invited among other community leaders including GFPS administration and nonprofit employees.

Taylor is mistaken in her accusation that there is any intention to vilify GFPS or its employees. Leatherbarrow and Rosales are consistently transparent about their involvement as Libertarian candidates, and officers of the Cascade County Libertarian Party, which are protected expressions of speech under the first amendment. Both have a passionate interest in education and the fiscal responsibility and transparency of the Great Falls Public School District, the Board, and the administration, as they are both residents within the district. None of those have any relation to the operations of Go & Grow Education Services.

Leatherbarrow would like to invite Taylor to contact him if she would like more accurate information for her political reporting endeavors. Any other community members who may have questions are also invited to reach out to Leatherbarrow.

About the CCLP

The Libertarian Party is the people’s representative in American politics. It is the only political organization which respects people as unique and competent individuals.

The Cascade County and Montana Libertarian Parties are the real choice for less government, lower taxes, and a freer future. The CCLP believes in both economic and personal freedom. We believe people should be free to make their own choices, provided they don’t infringe on the equal right of others to do the same. Government’s role should be to protect an individual’s right to make their own choices in life, so they can reap the rewards of their successes and bear personal responsibility for their decisions.

Contact Us

For questions, please contact the CCLP Chair:
Anthony Rosales, PhD
trrosales@gmail.com

Great Falls School Board Candidate Profile: Tony Rosales

Editors note: Earlier this month E-City Beat sent an email to the three GFPS School Board candidates requesting a candidate profile and their reasons for seeking the position of School Board Trustee. We will publish the replies without edits or editorial comment as we receive them.

Tony Rosales

Personal Bio:

Born and raised in Great Falls, I graduated from Great Falls High and attended Carroll College, where I gained a never-ending passion for local and community education. After earning a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, I embarked on a career in healthcare consulting. My experiences as a researcher, educator, and strategic planner motivate me to enhance GFPS with innovative solutions and ensure our educational system supports every student’s success.

Strategic Leadership:

Challenge: GFPS faces challenges in long-term financial planning and educational strategy.

Solution: I propose initiating board-led community focus groups involving students, families, and staff to gather diverse perspectives and direct insights. These groups will help shape our strategic actions by highlighting actual needs and priorities within the district to help recruit and retain personnel. Furthermore, I will actively participate in the 2025 legislative session to advocate for modifications to the state funding formula and ensure promised Montana Lottey funds help ease the burden of local property taxes for education. I am also committed to exploring innovative budget solutions, including the establishment of an endowment fund.

Accountability & Transparency:

Challenge: There is a need to improve the transparency of operations and accountability in student and school performance metrics.

Solution: I will ensure that our school board meetings are transformed into platforms for meaningful discussion on pressing issues. Regular, detailed reports on academic achievements, special education metrics, and behavioral statistics will be standard practice, allowing us to address areas needing improvement swiftly. Additionally, by enhancing the visibility of Individualized Education Plans (IEP) compliance and other key performance indicators, we can build a more accountable and transparent system that fosters trust and confidence among the community.

Real-world Preparedness:

Challenge: Preparing students for the complexities of the modern economy and digital world is essential.

Solution: Our curriculum must include advanced digital literacy and comprehensive financial education to ensure students are well-prepared for technological advancements and economic self-sufficiency. This includes practical applications of AI in various fields, teaching students about cryptocurrency, investing, and personal financial management. We should aim for every graduate to have the tools needed to begin a journey toward financial independence after graduating from GFPS.

Conclusion:

With a robust background in research, education, and strategic planning, I am uniquely equipped to contribute effectively to the GFPS School Board. My comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities in education today drives my commitment to ensure that GFPS not only meets but exceeds the expectations of our community. Through strategic leadership, enhanced accountability, and a focus on real-world preparedness, I will work tirelessly to prepare our students for the demands of the future.