Editors note: This is the third in our series of profiles featuring candidates running for the two open seats on the Great Falls City Commission.
My name is Josh Copeland, and I am running for Great Falls City Commission.
I grew up on a small ranch in Arizona and joined the Air Force when I was 17 years old. I served a total of 12 years, my last two being here at Malmstrom AFB. Believe it or not, Malmstrom was on my “dream sheet” the entire time I was in! I wanted to come to Montana and live here. When I got out of the Air Force in 2012, I stayed here.
I love Great Falls and all it has to offer, particularly the small-town feel, the sense of community and pace of life. I enjoy living so close to outdoor recreation like hiking, hunting, boating, fishing and skiing just to name a few!
I have always taken a keen interest in politics. About two years ago I started having many friends suggest I become more involved and consider running for a city position. When this year the announcement was made that two seats were being vacated by their incumbents on the City Commission, I felt it was my duty to run. As a veteran I feel a deep sense of duty and obligation to use my skill set to continue to serve.
One area I will work to improve for the City of Great Falls is communication. Communication is a two-way street and I feel like that street has road blocks in both directions, from the Commission to the people and from the people to the Commission. Those road blocks include the City’s inability to reach the masses with news and information. A lot of great and exciting things are going on in Great Falls, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to anyone who lives here. Not everyone can or is going to sit in every neighborhood counsel, commission, or advisory board meeting – but it is important that we share the information from those meetings with the people, so they are informed and feel like they are a part of this community. Telling people “It’s on the City website” is often taken as condescending and frankly, the website is difficult to navigate.
Websites have been a dying source for information for nearly a decade now as more information is shared via social channels. Effective social media management is something I will bring to the City. The second half of this is that the Commission need to listen to the people of Great Falls, and we need a communication style that works for all demographics that make up our amazing city.
Second, we need housing, and we need it now. More people are moving here to fill jobs that have been created as we slowly grow. We have created our own little housing bubble and the people who are suffering are longtime residents and middle class and below income earners. The City of Great Falls has been painstakingly slow and overly methodical in allowing contactors in to build. The City lays financial, engineering, and architectural burdens on contractors that simply scare them away. We need to be an easy city to do business with. We need to do a 180 on our culture when it comes to building and construction in Great Falls. Instead of looking at every possible reason to kill a project, we need to institute a culture of helpfulness and find every reason to approve projects and help and incentivize contractors and investors.
If you would like to know more, follow me or message me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @Josh4GF.