Cascade County Republicans won every single race on the ballot in the 2022 election. It was a jaw-dropping result given that Cascade County and Great Falls were once considered to be a Blue stronghold, sending a majority of Democrats every cycle to Helena.
Those days are long gone now I suspect, for two main reasons:
- The Cascade County Democratic Central Committee and most of the candidates that they have put forward and supported in recent elections are so far to the extreme left side of the political spectrum that they’ve fallen completely out of touch with the local mainstream.
- Local Republican candidates have run their campaigns on a mostly common sense conservative set of principles that resonates more soundly with local voters.
A big part of that conservative set of principles includes a healthy mistrust of top-down governance – at all levels.
I’m calling on our Great Falls/Cascade County state legislative delegation to live by and legislate according to their proclaimed conservative values by rejecting the efforts in this legislative session to increase state control of local governing bodies.
One example of such efforts is SB 245, a bill designed to impose a one-size-fits-all, state mandated zoning template on all Montana cities and towns.
SB 245 would require Great Falls, and all other Montana communities with populations over 7,000, to allow mixed-use and other kinds of development whether or not that development is determined by a local community or neighborhood to be a good fit for that local community or neighborhood.
The bill would also prohibit local governing bodies, like your Great Falls City Commission, from adding some development requirements in accordance with a local growth policy, like setbacks, density, and parking etc. after holding local public hearings with the local stakeholders in the neighborhoods most affected.
You can read SB 245 here.
Walk The Talk
I understand the intention of this and some of the other proposed related legislation is to address the housing crisis in our state. I get it.
But what works for Missoula may not work for Great Falls. A zoning regulation that provides solutions for Choteau might actually add problems for Butte or Havre.
The point is – one size does not fit all.
When the federal government seeks to cram regulations down our throats or usurp states rights those who claim to be liberty loving conservatives rightfully raise their voices in protest.
So to my conservative friends in the state legislature: Stay true to your conservative principles, be consistent and allow cities, towns and counties to keep their local decisions LOCAL.