Editors note – last month we asked each of the six candidates running for the Great Falls city commission to submit answers to three specific questions. We will be publishing the answers from the candidates who responded, in the order we received the responses, exactly as submitted and without editorial comment, starting today.
What do you consider to be the most important issue for Great Falls right now and if elected how would you respond to it. Please be as specific as possible by describing why you consider the issue to be the most important and the action you feel is necessary to address it?
According to the US Census Bureau interim report released in February of this year, in an 8-year span between 2010 and 2018:
- Gallatin County (Bozeman/Belgrade) population increased 22,363 = 25% growth.
- Flathead County (Kalispell) population increased 11,179 = 12.3% growth.
- Missoula County population increased 9495 = 8.7% growth.
- Lewis & Clark County (Helena) population increased 5305 = 8.4% growth.
- Yellowstone County (Billings) population increased 12,155 = 8.2% growth.
- Silver Bow County (Butte) population increased 784 = 2.3% growth.
- Cascade County (Great Falls) population increased 320 = 0.4% growth.
If we don’t change this trend we will not have the tax base or resources necessary to adequately fund quality public education, public safety, or infrastructure going forward, because those costs will continue to rise while we continue to struggle to remain stagnant – and we won’t be able to maintain and grow the modern workforce necessary to attract and retain business.
Like it or not, ready or not, we are competing with other state and regional cities for resources, taxpayers, and the growth necessary to prosper in the 21st-century.
One of our top priorities must be to create a local environment conducive to better jobs and more opportunities for ALL of our citizens – starting with a streamlined development process, an unmistakable ‘open for business’ attitude and a new culture within our city of ‘How can we help you?’, rather than ‘You can’t do that here!’
Do you or any of your immediate family members, business partners, employer, or employees hold any positions, professional or volunteer, recent past or present, that would constitute a conflict of interest, or appearance thereof, for you while conducting city business as a commissioner? If so how would you deal with the potential conflict?
I’ve been a community volunteer for many years and for different organizations and causes, including the following:
- Founder of the Local Artists and Musicians Project, for which I received the Bread Winner Award from Wheat Montana for volunteerism raising resources for the Great Falls Community Food Bank.
- Received the RSVP Presidential Silver Award for volunteering locally in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
- Volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.
- Volunteer reader for Great Falls Clinic’s Reach Out & Read program.
- Board member and Chair of the Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts advisory board.
- First and several time volunteer performer for the Four Seasons Sports Foundation fundraisers.
- 2016 and 2017 winner of the Mighty Mo Charity Sing Off, raising the most money for the local Casa-Can and Make-A-Wish Foundation, Downtown Great Falls Association Christmas Tree Fund and the Great Falls Clinic Legacy Foundation Bumble Bee Fund.
However, I’m not currently involved in those or any other organizations with business before the city commission.
I’m not a candidate because I have a personal pet project I want to work on, an organization or “special” part of town I want to “help”, or an agenda to accomplish for friends or family.
I’m running so that the average citizens in Great Falls who’ve been left out of the conversation for too long have a clear voice and a sharp pair of ears on our city commission. No special attention or treatment for anyone. Period.
I don’t foresee any conflicts of interest arising if I were to serve as a commissioner. But if a conflict were to come up I would deal with it by strictly adhering to the Title 2, Chapter 21 Code of Ethics requirements, going above and beyond in full disclosure before the matter is vetted, and by recusal from the issue if necessary.
Do you consider the current relationship between the city commission and the citizens of Great Falls to reflect an adequate level of mutual trust, respect and engagement and how would you improve that relationship?
No, the level of trust is not what it should be. The lack of transparency and the conflicts of interest in our city commission have done great damage to the public trust. The remedy is to elect city commissioners who will unfailingly adhere to the Title 2, Chapter 21 Code of Ethics requirements in the city code.