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.

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