Editors note: Here are candidate Joshua Copeland’s replies to our request for brief, specific answers to seven focused questions. Copeland’s answers are in bold type below each question.
- Would you vote to increase the Great Falls Park District 1 assessment on local homeowners and businesses to cover financing costs if the City goes over budget on construction of the new Aim High indoor aquatics facility, if additional funding is necessary for the ongoing operations of the facility, or if the City Park & Rec Department requires additional resources to fund its regular programs and operations?
It is unfortunate that the current commission dropped this squarely on the shoulders of incoming commissioners without asking themselves these questions before breaking ground. However, we cannot allow the money we have spent to go to waste and allow the new aquatics center to fall to the same fate as the Natatorium. I would support responsible increases for upkeep of the facility.
- Should the City’s official policy regarding the Big Sky National Heritage Area and its agenda be to support, oppose, or remain neutral? The City’s current policy is to support.
The city should oppose, and this will be one of the very first things I go to work on.
- Would you vote to support using City zoning regulations to prevent recreational marijuana shops from operating in Great Falls neighborhoods and business districts?
No. I-190 is a VOTER passed resolution. No elected official has the right to tell the voters that they can’t have what they voted for. I would recommend imposing similar ordinances and rules to marijuana shops that bars and liquor stores must follow.
- Would you vote to send a local public safety levy to Great Falls voters in order to pay for additional law enforcement and local criminal justice system resource?
No. We don’t need to create a prison industrial complex in Great Falls. The best way to address our rising crime is to bring jobs and housing. We have created a vacuum with our workforce stagnation. Good people who want to earn top wages and work skilled and technical jobs have very few choices to stay and Great Falls and therefore leave. We lean on public assistance programs, grants and government funds to keep the city afloat and that attracts more people who seek assistance and not progress. Crime follows poverty, and while there are prosperous cities with crime, historically across the nation the most prosperous and growing places on the map have lower crime rates and lower drug use.
- Which is a greater priority for Great Falls – low income housing or workforce housing?
Both are a priority. We cannot attract a workforce or companies that would bring prosperity and better paying jobs to Great Falls if we don’t have housing for those people to live. Likewise, our ineffectiveness to allow housing projects in Great Falls has created a tight squeeze on our low income families by driving up demand and the cost of housing.
- Would you vote to allow development in proximity to the currently unused runway at MAFB?
Absolutely. I personally built buildings on the parking aprons when stationed at Malmstrom in the 819th REDHORSE Squadron. The base has already allowed structures to be built on base and the parking aprons and hangars to be made unusable by aircraft. There is no risk that an airplane will ever land at MAFB ever again. In fact, we will likely see the designation of MAFB change within the next decade to “Malmstrom Space Force Base.”
- Do you support or oppose the proposed ordinance to prohibit long-term parking/storage of RVs, boats, and trailers on public streets in residential neighborhoods?
I oppose the proposed ordinance as it is written. It does not allow sufficient time for RV owners to use and maintain their RVs. The argument of “Safety” as a reason to prohibit long term parking is also arbitrary. The city provided no data of how many accidents were caused by RVs or trailers being parked on the streets when presenting this ordinance. Also, if a trailer is parked on the street for 36 hours in a week or 100 hours in a week it presents the exact same hazard that proponents of the ordinance are using to pass this measure.