EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
GOVERNOR / US SENATE / US HOUSE / OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION ATTORNEY GENERAL / AUDITOR AND COMMISSIONER OF SECURITIES & INSURANCE SECRETARY OF STATE / PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION / SUPREME COURT OF MONTANA
In it for the long haul, one day at a time. Neighbor by neighbor; community by community. Longevity doesn’t happen overnight, and we’re not about to let anything change its course. Let’s put over 50 years of full-service community banking to work for you.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. _house_
Find out more at firstinterstate.com
WITH EVERY PASSING ELECTION CYCLE, VOTERS REGULARLY HEAR THAT IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE YET. THIS COULDN’T BE TRUER FOR MONTANA VOTERS IN FALL 2020. Todd O’Hair
President and CEO MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Bridger Mahlum Government Relations Director MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
GOVERNOR Mike Cooney................................................ 4 Greg Gianforte.............................................5 UNITED STATES SENATE Steve Bullock.............................................. 6 Steve Daines................................................7 UNITED STATES HOUSE Matt Rosendale...........................................8 Kathleen Williams...................................... 9 OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION Elsie Arntzen..............................................10 Melissa Romano......................................... 11 ATTORNEY GENERAL Raph Graybill............................................. 12 Austin Knudsen......................................... 13 AUDITOR AND COMMISSIONER OF SECURITIES & INSURANCE Troy Downing.............................................14 Shane Morigeau........................................ 15 SECRETARY OF STATE Bryce Bennett............................................ 16 Christi Jacobsen........................................ 17 PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION Valerie McMurtry D2................................. 18 Tony O’Donnell D2.................................... 19 James Brown D3...................................... 20 Tom Woods D3.......................................... 21 Jennifer Fielder D4.................................. 22 Monica Tranel D4..................................... 23 SUPREME COURT OF MONTANA Mike Black #5............................................ 24 Laurie McKinnon #5................................ 25 Jim Shea #6.............................................. 26 All candidate responses were received on or before July 31, 2020
Not only will 125 state legislative seats be up, but the full slate of statewide offices is on the ballot this November. Of equal interest will be a trio of federal offices in President, US House, and one of our US Senate seats. We are pleased to present our inaugural voting guide of candidates for elected office to represent Montana. Enclosed you will find one-page profiles of 23 individuals who are running to serve in regional, statewide, and federal capacities—positions that can change the cost of doing business with each decision. We challenged each candidate to summarize key positions using questions that focus on the relationship between the office they seek and business interests. We deeply appreciate the candidates for not only participating in this project, but also for stepping up and making sacrifices to run for office. The Montana Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to helping voters learn candidate positions on important issues that impact the ability to do business in our state. In that vein, we play a vital role in election cycles by delivering candidate information to its members. In 2020 alone we have hosted candidate forums, moderated town halls, conducted radio interviews, and published this voter guide. We are especially engaged on the state legislative level through our political action committees (PAC) to support those candidates who stand with us across the spectrum of issues that affect Montana’s business community. Contact our government relations director, Bridger Mahlum, to learn more about this work. In a process that began last October, the Montana Chamber board of directors carefully weighed the pros and cons of continuing its endorsement policy. The decision to emphasize candidate awareness over endorsements reflects our deference to the judgment of our informed membership to select pro-business candidates. The Montana Chamber, all while staying true to its values, is excited to supply voters with more ways to identify candidates who will advance Montana’s business climate. This publication reflects just one of those means to help you decide. Sincerely,
406.431.3248 • 616 Helena Ave. Ste 300 • PO Box 1730 • Helena, MT 59624
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
STATE GOVERNOR AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Lieutenant Governor of Montana CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.cooneyformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I’m a lifelong Montanan. I have a proven track record getting real results for Montana as a state legislator, as Secretary of State, and now in my service as Lieutenant Governor. As Steve Bullock’s Lieutenant Governor, I’ve led on increasing wages and job opportunities, on protecting and expanding access to affordable health care, on tirelessly defending access to Montana’s public lands, and on keeping dark money and special interests out of our politics. I’m running for Governor because Montanans need a leader with the experience and know-how to bring Republicans and Democrats together, address Montana’s challenges head on, and get results. Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? I’ve spent my career in public service working together with the private sector to foster a pro-business economic climate in Montana and deliver
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
results for the business community. As Secretary of State, I directed the office to streamline our processes to make it easier to do business in Montana. As Governor Bullock’s Lt. Governor, I’ve worked directly with business owners all across the state to solicit input for the Main Street Montana Project. As a result, Governor Bullock and I repealed and adjusted thousands of regulations across state government to ease the burdens on business owners and entrepreneurs. As governor I will work with Republicans and Democrats to continue to implement policies that make Montana the best place to live, work, start a business, and raise a family: including making sure businesses have a pipeline of skilled, trained workers to fill high-demand jobs. Arrow-Circle-Right If the political dynamics call for it, how will your administration work “across the aisle” to address business issues during a legislative session? On which issues do you expect to achieve bipartisan support? As a state legislator, Secretary of State, President of the Senate, and as Governor Bullock’s Lt. Governor, I’ve worked across the aisle on many issues to deliver results for Montanans. I believe good public policy comes out of sitting down with members of both parties and finding solutions that work for Montana. In Montana we’ve had success finding bipartisan support on issues like healthcare, education, and infrastructure. We passed and reauthorized Medicaid expansion. We passed a comprehensive infrastructure package, investing in critical projects all across the state. We’ve made record investments in our public education
system, freezing college tuition and expanding dual enrollment. As governor, I’ll bring everyone to the table to tackle the challenges facing us today: rebuilding our economy and making sure Montanans can safely be back on the job, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare, and protecting our public lands. Arrow-Circle-Right Please detail a specific issue related to business that your campaign is prioritizing for this office. How you plan to address it once elected? Before the outbreak of COVID-19, as I traveled across the state and met with business owners the number one thing I heard was the need for more skilled workers. I recently announced my plan to “Keep Montana Working” and one element of the plan includes shifting the priorities of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to focus more on workforce development. The office will recruit new businesses, grow existing businesses, help with business transition, and to ensure our workforce training programs work in unison to meet the needs of our economy in 2030. It will also work closely with the Department of Labor & Industry to expand apprenticeship programs, workbased learning and work together with the private sector to identify additional ways we can work with Montana’s higher education system to bridge the gaps between the education community and the business community to ensure Montana students are qualified to meet the demands of businesses in industries across Montana. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: U.S. Congressman serving Montana CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.gregformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. Susan, my wife of 32 years, and I founded RightNow Technologies two decades ago in our Bozeman home. We grew it into the town’s largest commercial employer, created over 500 high-paying Montana jobs, and helped launch Montana’s hightech sector. I’ve spent my entire career creating jobs, solving problems, and serving others. I’ve worked to improve our economy through “Better Montana Jobs.” I’ve launched scholarship programs to help low-income students and veterans pursue the education and training they need to start a career in Montana. And I mentor entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout our state. After spending 34 years in the private sector, Montanans entrusted me to be their voice in Congress, where I’ve worked with President Trump to cut taxes, roll back unnecessary regulations, and protect our Montana way of life. Susan and I raised our four children in Bozeman hunting, fishing, rafting, climbing, skiing and backpacking on Montana’s public lands. Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? If there’s any question about who
the pro-business candidate is in this race, look at our very different records. I’m proud to have earned a lifetime score of 86 percent from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I’m also proud the U.S. Chamber presented me with its Spirit of Enterprise Award, which recognizes leaders who support pro-growth policies that help Main Street businesses thrive. I’ve voted to cut taxes and review, roll back, and repeal unnecessary, burdensome regulations. Beyond my proven, pro-business record, I’m the only candidate in this race who’s built a business and created good-paying jobs here in Montana. I know what it takes, and as your governor, I’ll roll up my sleeves and start enacting a pro-business, pro-jobs agenda immediately. With Montana facing the virus and economic crises, Montana needs someone with proven business leadership in the governor’s office, someone who understands what businesses need—not someone with a long anti-business, anti-jobs record. Arrow-Circle-Right If the political dynamics call for it, how will your administration work “across the aisle” to address business issues during a legislative session? On which issues do you expect to achieve bipartisan support? Good ideas can come from anyone. That’s true in business, and it’s true in government. In my experience serving Montana in Congress, the only way to get things done is by working with folks in both parties. I have Democratic and Republican lawmakers over for dinner and grill Montana beef or moose burgers. It helps me build strong relationships to advance an agenda that puts Montana first. My first bill that President Trump signed into law was a bipartisan effort protecting
public access to our public lands. My second was bipartisan and increases job opportunities for Montanans. I’ll bring that same approach to the governor’s office. Our top priority must be to get our economy going again, get Montana open for business, and get Montanans back to work. I’m eager to work with anyone, regardless of party, who has a good idea for how to accomplish our top priority. When it comes down to it, I’ll always be on Montana’s side and will work with anyone to get the job done. Arrow-Circle-Right Please detail a specific issue related to business that your campaign is prioritizing for this office. How you plan to address it once elected? Our anti-competitive, anti-jobs tax code effectively hangs a “closed” sign on Montana’s door. It places a heavy burden on businesses, makes it hard for Montanans to start a new business, and drives away potential businesses from locating in our state and bringing good-paying jobs with them. High property taxes, high income taxes, and a punishing, complex business equipment tax conspire to make it harder for new businesses to start up in Montana and for existing businesses to make critical investments. As a result, Montanans are losing out. We must reform our tax code to promote business investment and job creation. As governor, I’ll be pro-jobs and probusiness. I’ll work with the legislature to make our tax code more competitive, so Montana can attract businesses, promote entrepreneurship, and have more goodpaying jobs. Tax reform is only one part of my plan to get Montana open for business. Learn more about my other priorities in our Montana Comeback Plan at montanabusinessplan.com. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
UNITED STATES STATE SENATE AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Governor of Montana CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.stevebullock.com
balanced budget and creating a fire fund and a budget stabilization reserve.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am a lifelong Montanan and I have worked throughout my career to protect Montana’s way of life. As Attorney General and Governor, I have fought to protect access to public lands and end the corrupting influence of money in politics. As Governor, I brought Republicans and Democrats together to save the state’s rural hospitals and expand affordable health care to more than 90,000 Montanans and the 57% of Montana businesses that have one or more employees who receive their healthcare through Medicaid expansion. I am committed to bringing people together to get things done and do what’s right for Montana families. During my two terms, I have worked across the aisle to strengthen Montana’s economy, invest in public schools, freeze college tuition, invest in infrastructure, and expand career training so that Montana’s kids can build a better future for themselves—all while maintaining a
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? As Governor, I worked hard to help Montana’s business community thrive. My Main Street Montana initiative—led by business leaders—bridged the gap between the public sector, private sector, and education community. I would note that much of the Chamber’s long range visioning project had similarities to our report and effort. I cut red tape by repealing hundreds of unnecessary rules and regulations, and expanded apprenticeship programs and tax credits to connect employers with the skilled workers they need. I eliminated the business equipment tax for two-thirds of Montana businesses, and reduced it for larger businesses. I secured major investments in infrastructure and ensured the future of economic development tools that have been successful for businesses all over the state. As Montana’s Senator, I will continue building on this record of working in partnership with Montana businesses to create an environment where opportunities for growth and innovation are available to everyone. Arrow-Circle-Right US Senators carry a great responsibility in confirming nominees to serve on the US Supreme Court. What will you look for in a nominee when evaluating confirmation? Making decisions about lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court is among the most
serious and impactful considerations a Senator will undertake. That’s why I am committed to carefully evaluating every nominee based on their own record and merits, not subscribing to litmus tests. Given that all of the current members of the Supreme Court are from the East, however, I would like to see a nominee from the Western United States, and would strongly encourage the President to advance such a nominee. As Senator, I will consider whether a nominee is committed to upholding the Constitution, protecting Montana values, and making decisions that create economic opportunity for all Americans. Arrow-Circle-Right In your opinion, what is the best indication of economic health (the stock market, unemployment rate, income, etc.)? Why? A healthy economy is one that works for all Montanans, which means we need to look at multiple indicators to determine the strength of our economy. The door to the American dream is open to Montana families when median incomes are strong and wages are keeping pace with inflation. Hitting targets for the unemployment rate indicates a balance between supply and demand in the labor market. High consumer confidence points towards how much financial security families are feeling. When GDP is growing, businesses are experiencing success and families’ standard of living is improving overall. All of these factors are important to consider when determining whether the economy as a whole is strong, and whether all Montanans are experiencing the benefits of prosperity. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: U.S. Senator for Montana CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.stevedaines.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am a fifth-generation Montanan, father of four and grandfather to two, serving Montanans in the U.S. Senate. I grew up in Bozeman where I attended public schools and graduated from Montana State University (MSU) with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I paid my way through college by working in construction, and shortly after college, I met my sweet wife Cindy and proposed to her on top of Hyalite Peak. Before coming to Congress, I spent 28 years in the private sector solving problems, delivering solutions, and creating jobs. I am running for reelection to fight for more Montana jobs, to help rebuild our economy and to secure our healthcare system by ending our reliance on China for critical prescription drugs and medical supplies and bringing these manufacturing jobs and factories back to America. I’m proud to be recognized as one of the most bipartisan and effective members of Congress and will continue to always defend our Montana way of life and put Montana First.
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? I’m the only candidate in this race who has created jobs. I ran operations for a major American company, helped manage our family Montana construction business, and helped grow a small hi-tech start-up, RightNow Technologies, into Bozeman’s largest commercial employer, creating over 500 Montana jobs. I’ve secured historic, fair trade deals for Montana Agriculture. I have secured historic wins for our outdoor economy. I worked with President Trump to save our Job Corps centers, centers that provide critical workforce training. During the 2017 tax cuts, I championed the provision for tax cuts for our small businesses. Early on, I called on the Obama Administration to keep the 819th RED HORSE Unit in Montana, and they listened. During COVID, I secured critical support for our small businesses, giving them a lifeline to survive. This is the experience we need to rebuild our economy. Montanans know they can trust my leadership, especially when it comes to jobs. Arrow-Circle-Right US Senators carry a great responsibility in confirming nominees to serve on the US Supreme Court. What will you look for in a nominee when evaluating confirmation? The decisions the Supreme Court makes shapes our country for generations, and there is no greater role than confirming a Justice that will uphold the Constitution and protect our way of life. Montanans want a Justice who has a record of upholding our Constitution, the rule of law, and will not legislate from the bench with a ideologically-driven agenda. Those are the qualities I looked
for when I met with Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and I found those qualities in both of them. When supporting Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, I was confident they would not just defend our Constitution but that they would also protect who we are as Montanans, defend our Second Amendment rights, our privacy from federal overreach, and stop unlawful regulations. Confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice is not, and should never be, political. That is why it is critical Montana has a voice in the Senate that will stand up for our Constitution, liberty and freedom that make us who we are as Americans.
UNITED STATES SENATE
Arrow-Circle-Right In your opinion, what is the best indication of economic health (the stock market, unemployment rate, income, etc.)? Why? Before COVID-19, Montana and America’s economy was booming. We had the lowest unemployment rates in over 50 years, the stock market was strong, wages were high. Hardworking moms and dads all over Montana were able to support their families comfortably. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, Montana workers and small businesses were hit especially hard compared to our neighboring states. That is why I got to work protecting our workers, jobs, and small businesses. I fought to ensure that our Montana small businesses and workers had the critical support they needed to keep their businesses open and their workers employed. I am confident that with a Republican-held Senate, we will rebuild our economy once again and get all our hardworking Montanans back to work, businesses booming, and our unemployment rates back down. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
UNITED STATES STATEHOUSE AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Montana State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities & Insurance CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.mattformontana.com
have been married for 34 years and have three sons.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am the Republican nominee for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and currently serve as Montana’s State Auditor and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. As State Auditor, I also serve as a member of Montana’s Land Board where I have worked to increase public access to over 45,000 acres of public land. I spent my career working to grow our family business and am proud of my strong record of supporting pro-business policies during my time in the Montana State Legislature. I was honored to serve as a Representative in the Montana State Legislature for two years. I was then elected to the Montana State Senate, during which time I also served as the Senate’s Majority leader. My wife, Jean, and I live on a ranch in Glendive where we have resided for nearly 20 years. We
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? I have a strong business background and I know that businesses create jobs, not government. I have experienced firsthand the incredible burden of government regulation, have had to make difficult decisions to make budgets balance, and have felt the anxiety that comes with being responsible for putting food on the table for your employees. I also have a proven track record of successfully fighting for pro-business policies. In the State Legislature and as your State Auditor, I have made it my mission to slash burdensome regulations, cut taxes on small businesses and families, and rein in out-of-control government spending. That’s why I was recognized as a “Champion of Business” twice by the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and why I am the only candidate in the race for Congress endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Arrow-Circle-Right As the incoming at-large member for Montana, what expertise can you draw from that will help you overcome a lack of seniority in the 435-member body? I have always been a strong and vocal advocate for Montana businesses and families. I’ve shown that I will forcefully defend our values and way of life and actually get things done. That is the attitude that I will bring to Washington.
As your representative in Congress, I will lean on my experience running a business, serving as the Majority Leader in the State Senate, and my time as head of the agency which regulates Montana’s insurance and securities industries. This varied experience will give me significant expertise and a unique perspective on many of the critical issues facing our state and our country. Arrow-Circle-Right Please detail a specific issue related to business that your campaign is prioritizing for this office. How do you plan to address it once elected? My top priority will be safely reopening our economy and getting Montanans back to work. I believe our recovery is being held back by a vast web of onerous federal taxes and regulations on our families and businesses. That’s why I’ve developed a comprehensive plan which includes proven policies to get Montana’s economy back on track by getting government out of the way of businesses and unleashing economic growth. I will focus on providing long-term regulatory relief, creating a permanent pro-growth tax code, protecting businesses from liability during the pandemic, incentivizing work over welfare, reining in government spending, and developing our natural resources. I am confident that if we can put these policies it place, we will speed our economic recovery and provide the support and flexibility that struggling businesses need right now. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Candidate for Congress CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.kathleenformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am a former three-term state legislator, sportswoman, music lover, business owner and most recently, candidate for Montana’s at-large seat in the United States House of Representatives. I am a proven fighter with a 37-year career in natural resource planning and policy and have brought people together to solve tough problems. During my six years representing eastern Gallatin County in the Montana Legislature, I am proud to have passed bills that created 200 new businesses in just three years, required insurers to stop denying care to cancer patients, and protected Montana businesses from being sued by their investors for not making decisions exclusively to maximize profit. I am running once again to be Montana’s lone Representative in the US House. I plan to bring my tireless work ethic, integrity, and proven record of policy success to Congress. Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? My plan is based on what
Montana businesses, workers and entrepreneurs have told me we need to build a future where we can achieve our American dream. That means leveling the playing field for small businesses, building the economy and workforce of the future, fixing our healthcare system, fostering entrepreneurship, and cutting red tape that makes it too complicated for people who want to build a successful business. I also have a relevant legislative record. I was elected to the Legislature as we were coming out of the Great Recession and got to work. My legislation created hundreds of new businesses which are sourcing inputs from Montana. I created a new type of corporation, fought to attract the film industry, and worked with both parties in Helena to cut taxes. My work with business earned me praise from the Montana Chamber of Commerce (thank you!). We need steady, forward-thinking leadership at the federal level that’s focused on solutions, not grandstanding or partisanship. Arrow-Circle-Right As the incoming at-large member for Montana, what expertise can you draw from that will help you overcome a lack of seniority in the 435-member body? I’ll work with people of all political stripes to get things done, like I did in Helena. I apply my entrepreneurial spirit to find creative, win-win-win solutions to difficult problems. Success can be achieved through communicating in unique and relevant ways, not toeing a party line. My former legislative colleagues asked for advice on policy, process, and how to read and write bills. I sought to hold myself and my colleagues to a higher standard - one of mutual respect. I led by example, and
was respected for it. That’s how I worked with both parties to cut taxes and create a new type of corporation in Montana. Those are the kinds of solutions and the kind of approach Montanans want, and I think moving past extreme partisanship, being a good listener, and staying rooted in Montanans’ hopes, struggles and dreams is the best way to make Congress work again. I was in the minority in the legislature all three of my terms, but I still got the votes to pass significant legislation.
UNITED STATES HOUSE
Arrow-Circle-Right Please detail a specific issue related to business that your campaign is prioritizing for this office. How do you plan to address it once elected? I am focused on ensuring we get this pandemic under control and Montanans back to work. Opportunities may be different as we come out the other side and we need to ensure we are both prepared for and involved in building the future Montana economy. We must ensure we have both the jobs of the future and the workforce developed and prepared for those jobs. Prior to the pandemic, businesses were telling me this was one of their biggest issues and frustrations - attracting and retaining quality employees. This means working with our educational institutions, apprenticeship programs, business development programs, and more to foster a diverse economy that supports good-paying jobs - health care, high-tech, agricultural production and processing, infrastructure, redevelopment, and more. Preparing our workforce - especially in Montana - for the economies of the future will be a key focus of my tenure in Congress to build inclusive prosperity in the long run. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION STATE AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.elsieformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. My name is Elsie Arntzen and I am Montana’s current Superintendent of Public Instruction. Prior to my service at the Office of Public Instruction (OPI), I was a teacher for 23 years in Billings Public Schools and a Montana Legislator for 12 years. I am a 5th generation Montanan. I am proud of my Economics degree from U of M, Go Griz! While my Education degree deserves a call out to MSU, Go Cats! My husband Steven and I have two daughters and four fabulous grandchildren. My passion is working to ensure success for each new generation of Montanans through a high-quality education that will lead to career opportunities in Montana’s businesses and industries. Arrow-Circle-Right Workforce development is a top priority for the business community. With learning happening both in and out of the classroom, how will you
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
encourage and empower educators to develop flexible learning environments? A real-world education that reflects the opportunities available in Montana’s economy is essential to preparing students for successful careers. That is why I have reinvigorated and strengthened Career and Technical Education (CTE) at the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) with meaningful student engagement for career awareness in middle school. One of my strengths is creating strong partnerships with Montana’s businesses, industries, and policy makers. As State Superintendent, I have emphasized the need for flexibility and individualized student learning, especially during COVID-19. Families should be able to define learning tracks for their children and teachers should have the flexibility to teach “outside of the school box”. This is what I have CTE specialists at OPI constantly developing and working with local educators to showcase innovation. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you prioritize career readiness skills like leadership, work ethic, and communication? If so, how will you encourage schools to adopt “soft skills” in their curricula? Absolutely! My “Montana Ready” initiative prepares students with tangible skills for success during and after high school. This begins with developing and promoting our Montana teachers’ awareness of Montana’s workforce needs. Prioritizing and modeling team communication, with accountability at elementary grades that expands through high school, is key. One of my priorities
has been to remove burdensome regulations and rebuild teaching/ learning standards that incorporate innovation and student engagement. I have promoted Career and Technical Student Organizations such as FFA, BPA, FCCLA, and others where students grow their soft skills in hands-on ways. The agricultural education program for example, prepares students for workforce success with technology. Montana’s economy demands a qualified workforce now more than ever. Emphasizing each and every student’s success has and will continue under my guidance. Arrow-Circle-Right There are many influencers in education, including school administrators, teacher unions, local school boards, and businesses. How will you balance the interests of these stakeholders while maintaining a productive education system in Montana? I have that Montana spirit of never giving up and a bounty of positive energy that seeks solutions. Building partnerships by listening and responsive communication is very important. The simple continued message of putting students first leads all conversations. As current State Superintendent, I continuously meet with specific school interest groups such as the teacher’s union, school administrators, and school boards. I have broadened the discussion with community, state, and national businesses and economists. The old system of school bells and bricks has changed under my leadership, as the emphasis must focus on individual students. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Public School Teacher CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.romanoformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. Melissa Romano is a Montana public school teacher, 2018 Montana Teacher of the Year, nationally recognized educator, and mom of four. We need an experienced educator at the Office of Public Instruction who understands how their decisions impact our children in their classrooms. Melissa is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction to advocate for our public schools and ensure every child has access to a quality education. Arrow-Circle-Right Workforce development is a top priority for the business community. With learning happening both in and out of the classroom, how will you encourage
and empower educators to develop flexible learning environments? As a local control state, we are lucky that school districts already have so much flexibility in how they deliver services to our children. Montana standards allow for school districts to think outside the box and create partnerships with local businesses and learn according to each child’s own unique abilities. As State Superintendent, I will be open to suggestions and new ideas about how our districts can create flexible learning environments for our students across the state. Especially as we work to recover from coronavirus, flexibility will be imperative. We need to empower our educators to bring new ideas to the table, but we also need to make sure they have the resources and support they need from the State Superintendent to pursue those flexible environments safely. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you prioritize career readiness skills like leadership, work ethic, and communication? If so, how will you encourage schools to adopt “soft skills” in their curricula? Absolutely. All students should have the resources they need to learn and be prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path. Schools can encourage students to adopt “soft skills” like communication, leadership and work ethic through social and emotional learning (SEL).
These skills enhance students’ capacity to integrate attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors to navigate daily tasks and challenges, from problem solving to creating healthy relationships with others. The State Superintendent has the ability to bring SEL recommendations to the Board of Public Education and should do everything they can to help our schools prepare our students for any career they choose to pursue after high school.
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Arrow-Circle-Right There are many influencers in education, including school administrators, teacher unions, local school boards, and businesses. How will you balance the interests of these stakeholders while maintaining a productive education system in Montana? As Superintendent I will work collaboratively with any and all persons and groups dedicated to Montana’s public schools. I will exclude no one from the conversation and do my best to defend and promote students, school employees, local school boards, and businesses that help support public education. I will follow the Montana constitution that clearly states our children have the right to access a quality public education, a board of public education to generally supervise that system, and local boards of trustees to supervise and control the schools in their districts. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the Governor CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.raphgraybill.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am running to be an independent watchdog Attorney General, with a proven record of fighting for all Montanans, regardless of political party. I grew up in Great Falls and am a fifthgeneration Montanan. My wife, Marisa, is a teacher and we recently welcomed our first child, Genevieve. Montana is my home and I care deeply about the character of our state. I graduated from Yale Law School, Columbia University, and Oxford, where I was a Rhodes Scholar. In private practice with the leading business litigation firm, I defended entrepreneurs, investors, and Fortune 500 companies in bet-the-company litigation. Since joining Governor Bullock, I have litigated throughout Montana and in the U.S. Supreme Court. I value independence and professionalism. I have worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation and navigate complex legal problems. As a former NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer, I am the only candidate with experience serving directly alongside law enforcement officers. Arrow-Circle-Right Attorneys General are in the business of interpreting and enforcing the law. If elected, would you see your role as AG as that 12
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
of an activist, with freedom to interpret the law to new situations, events, and gubernatorial administrations, or as that of a constructionist, interpreting the law strictly through the lens of original intent? The Attorney General must apply the law strictly according to its text. That is why it is so important that we have an independent Attorney General, not a partisan extremist. I argued and won a landmark case on statutory interpretation at the Montana Supreme Court. And I work closely with Republican Attorney General Fox and his team to defend Montana values in court. Though we are both lawyers in our 30s, my opponent has never argued in the Montana Supreme Court. He has not been to federal court in Montana in nine years. As a politician, he was repeatedly abandoned by his fellow Republicans because of his extremism. He was responsible for blocking much-needed infrastructure spending, and tried and failed to stop Medicaid Expansion, which supports 10,000 jobs in Montana and billions in economic activity. Political extremism will fail us. This is a serious office that requires independence. I will work with anyone, Republicans and Democrats, to apply the law with neutrality. Arrow-Circle-Right The Governor and the AG have distinct roles when representing national issues of importance to Montana. How do you plan to represent the state in light of the roles of the two offices? The delegates to the Montana Constitutional Convention debated having the Attorney General appointed by the Governor. They chose instead for an independentlyelected Attorney General. Their wisdom has served us well. It is our job to continue to elect Attorneys General who will do what is right regardless of political party. I respect Attorney General Fox because he shows independence. He would not
join the dangerous lawsuit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. But my opponent says the entire reason he is running is to join this lawsuit. It would be a disaster for Montana: we would lose 10,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity. I am running to defend our public health, public safety, and business vitality. As Attorney General, I will work with anyone, Democrats or Republicans, to expand access to affordable healthcare, lower the price of prescription drugs, and defend access to substance abuse treatment and mental health services in our communities. Arrow-Circle-Right The Attorney General is essentially the managing partner of a public law firm, with hundreds of employees and a budget to match. This does not include the cost of outside lawyers to handle contract work for the state. How will you be a good steward of Montana taxpayer dollars? I will not join jobkilling political lawsuits. Instead, I will go to court to recover dollars for Montana businesses and consumers. For example, Montana businesses have suffered increased healthcare costs because of anti-competitive practices by out-of-state pharmaceutical corporations. When prices go up, consumers and employer based health plans suffer. As Attorney General, I will promote fair competition and fight for Montana businesses and consumers. My opponent says this is not what the office is designed for. Instead, he has advocated to defund the Department of Justice. It is extreme and dangerous. I will support the resources our Montana Highway Patrol needs and the important work at the State Crime Lab. I will work with anyone, Republicans or Democrats, to make Montana a better place to start a business and raise a family. We can do it by rejecting the harshest ideologues in our political system and electing an independent watchdog as our next Attorney General. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Roosevelt County Attorney CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.austinformontana.com
the House, and in 2017 I was re-elected Speaker of the House. In 2018, I was elected Roosevelt County Attorney. I’ve been Roosevelt County’s full-time criminal prosecutor since then, where I have been aggressively prosecuting drug, violent, and sexual crimes.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am a 5th generation Montanan from Bainville/Culbertson. I grew up on the family farm and ranch, raising spring wheat, baling hay, and ranching angus cattle. Graduated Culbertson High School, undergraduate degrees from Montana State- Bozeman (where I met my wife Christie), law degree from UM Law Missoula. After law school, we moved home to the family farm (where we still live) and I practiced law in Plentywood for 5 years with a small law firm. In 2013, I started my own solo law practice in Culbertson. For my decade in private law practice, I represented farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and neighbors, in myriad legal areas. In 2011, I was elected to the MT House of Representatives. In 2015, I was elected the Speaker of
Arrow-Circle-Right Attorneys General are in the business of interpreting and enforcing the law. If elected, would you see your role as AG as that of an activist, with freedom to interpret the law to new situations, events, and gubernatorial administrations, or as that of a constructionist, interpreting the law strictly through the lens of original intent? I am an constructionist/ originalist, and this is the lens through which I will interpret and enforce laws as Montana Attorney General. Arrow-Circle-Right The Governor and the AG have distinct roles when representing national issues of importance to Montana. How do you plan to represent the state in light of the roles of the two offices? The Attorney General’s job is to enforce the laws passed by the Legislature, and to protect the individual rights of all Montanans. If a federal issue presents itself that I believe is contrary to the laws of Montana or threatens the individual rights of Montanans, I will not hesitate to
take appropriate action, at whatever level. Arrow-Circle-Right The Attorney General is essentially the managing partner of a public law firm, with hundreds of employees and a budget to match. This does not include the cost of outside lawyers to handle contract work for the state. How will you be a good steward of Montana taxpayer dollars? I am a fiscal conservative and have the record to prove it. The overall MT Department of Justice budget has ballooned in the last 8 years, from $86 million in 2012, to nearly $130 million today. I have analyzed this budget, and much of this increase has gone to more staff and pay raises, all in Helena. Centralization of services in Helena and increased Helena bureaucracy has NOT had any measurable benefit. Overall violent crime in Montana is up 36% since 2013. Rapes are up 32%. Aggravated assaults are up 30%. Murders from 2013 to 2017 spiked 68%. Mexican cartel meth is causing this spike, and more spending in Helena has done NOTHING to combat it. I will work with the Legislature to reduce the DOJ budget where appropriate, such as exorbitant rates to a few contract attorneys. I want to pass those savings back to local law enforcement (sheriffs, county attorneys), who are operating on small budgets and can’t afford the staff and tools they need to fight cartel meth on the front lines. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
AUDITOR AND SECURITIES & INSURANCE COMMISSIONER STATE AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Businessman CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.troydowning.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I attended New York University and later worked as a Research Scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. I was a teacher in the Information Technology Department and taught there before leaving to found a startup company. In the late 90s, we merged our company, WebCal, Inc., into the nascent Yahoo! Inc. in a pooling of interests merger. I was then involved in Angel Financing and mentoring of other technology companies. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, I joined the military. I enlisted in a Combat Search and Rescue squadron and did two tours to Afghanistan. Then, I expanded my real estate business and helped build a national commercial real estate portfolio. We started syndicating real estate securities through the independent broker/dealer networks. We built our own insurance company and it eventually became a national company operating as an MGA and program manager with multiple partners in both traditional insurance and CLIP programs.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? I’m the only candidate who’s been in business, who has built companies, who has run companies and who has mentored others trying to build their companies. I am the only candidate in this race who understands that free-markets, innovation, and entrepreneurism is the only system in which prosperity exists. As Auditor, I will fight to defend and to educate consumers. I will fiercely pursue bad actors who would intentionally defraud or mislead the consumer while also striving for a strong pro-business culture in the Auditor’s office. We will look closely at regulations, statute, and administrative rules and focus on those that clearly protect the consumer and cull those that simply stifle business. I believe that an educated consumer is best at choosing what is best for them. I will strive to help educate the consumer and give them tools to better understand what the risks and rewards are when making a choice. Arrow-Circle-Right What kind of experience will you look for in top staff to supplement your own, especially as it concerns insurance? It’s important to know what you don’t know. I built an insurance company from the ground up. I understand the issues and pain points that I experienced building that. I will seek others with broad insurance experience that expands and supplements my own. I will look for professionals who have worked, in both the private and public sector, on health insurance, life insurance, malpractice insurance… All of the areas that will help
supplement my own knowledge and experience. My goal is to find highly experienced professionals who have seen what the pitfalls and pain points are in building and growing a successful business in the insurance industry. Equally important, I want professionals who have seen how bad actors mislead or defraud consumers. The more time you’ve spent in business, the better you are at knowing where to look for those who do not toe the line of what is required and expected. Arrow-Circle-Right The auditor’s office at times becomes a catch-all for proposals aimed at government accountability. What’s your view of this office’s authority and its limits? My vision of the office is as a beacon in transparency. We will pursue transparency in all things government and will encourage transparency whenever possible. Where we draw the line is putting unreasonable requirements for any business or professional to insure or produce that which they have no ability to affect. In other words, we will not assert the authority to require someone to produce the product or specifics of another if they have no authority to do so. What you can expect in my tenure, is a pro-business, protransparency, consumer protection office. We will not seek to gain control or authority where it is not clearly defined in the statute. We will actively work with the legislature to build, define, debate, and perfect legislation that falls within the guidelines of the culture and ideals described above. Our goal is to be staunch stalwarts in consumer protection, and partners in business helping to collaborate and make Montana as probusiness as we can. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Attorney, Representative for HD 95 CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.shaneformontana.com
first blockchain legislation, providing regulatory certainty for tech firms looking to start businesses in the state, while protecting consumers
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I grew up in Ronan, Montana, and am a Native Montanan. I earned a bachelor’s and a law degree at the Univ. of Montana, and a master of laws from the Univ. of Arizona School of Law. I’ve built a career using my law degree and advocacy background to forge relationships and sift out partisanship to make policy that benefits all Montanans. I’ve practiced law since 2011 and was elected to the MT legislature in 2016. I spearheaded legislation to make healthcare more affordable and protect public lands. I wrote and passed the MT Promise Act, a workforce development bill that’ll provide grant funds to students for 2-year colleges to help fill Montana’s future job needs. In the 2017 session, I carried SB 239 to revise judgment interest in civil cases, a priority of the Chamber. I partnered with Republican colleagues, including passing Montana’s
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? I’m accessible and ready to work across the political aisle and across our varied business landscape to benefit Montana consumers. Transparency, clear regulation, and readiness to engage leaders across the state are key aspects of how I approach this office. I was awarded the Chamber’s Honorable Mention Award in 2017, and my Chamber Business relationship and score improved from the ‘17 to ‘19 legislative sessions. I was proud to reauthorize Medicaid expansion. I’m considering policy ideas responding to concerns brought to me by small businesses, including adding pandemic-related stoppages to business interruption insurance, and decreasing the time claims adjusters can take on a claim. I will encourage competition to help keep rates low. I also look forward to working with insurers and hospitals to help consumers get the transparency in care that they deserve. Montanans benefit when the business climate is good. Consumer protection and quality healthcare access is good for business. Arrow-Circle-Right What kind of experience will you look for in top staff to supplement your own, especially as it concerns insurance? I will reach out to experts
and those with backgrounds in industry. I’m looking forward to reaching across the political spectrum to put the best and brightest around me to help me make the Auditor’s office best situated to make the smartest and most informed decisions regarding insurance. Arrow-Circle-Right The auditor’s office at times becomes a catch-all for proposals aimed at government accountability. What’s your view of this office’s authority and its limits? The Auditor’s office (Commissioner of Securities and Insurance) is set out in Article VI of the Montana Constitution, and is statutorily mandated to ensure the interests of insurance consumers are protected (MCA 33-1-311 (3)) and regulate securities as defined in MCA 30-10-103 22(a). The office is a criminal justice agency which litigates, prosecutes, licenses, and generally enforces the Securities Act and our Insurance Codes. It protects Montana businesses from fraud, and should keep insurance rates low and advocate for Montanans to get the coverage they’ve paid for. Additionally, the Auditor’s office should work to make sure Montanans know their rights and are informed on insurance, fraud, and financial health. Ultimately, it’s a consumer protection agency with a statutory mandate to ensure fairness, transparency, and access in the areas of securities and insurance, for all Montanans. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
AUDITOR AND SECURITIES & INSURANCE COMMISSIONER
SECRETARY STATE OF STATE AUDITOR
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Montana State Senator CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.bennettformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I’m a fifth generation Montanan and State Senator. I worked with Republicans and Democrats to defend access to our public lands and promote our outdoor economy, protect healthcare for over 90,000 Montanans, invest in shovel-ready infrastructure jobs, and I was recognized by the Montana Chamber of Commerce for my pro-business record. As Secretary of State, I will bring small businesses and entrepreneurs to the table to make sure government is responsive to Main Street and listens to the needs of Montana’s job creators. The Montana Ambassadors named me their ‘Legislator of the Year’ for my effective work to battle dark money and ensure our elections are always accountable to the people—not out-ofstate special interests. I grew up in Hysham, a town of less than 400 people. I understand Montana doesn’t need more partisan politics, Montana needs a Secretary of State who can bring people together to get things done. Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
office? We need a Secretary of State who understands Main Street is struggling and uses their office to help them recover instead of placing more burdens on them. I was proud to be recognized by the Montana Chamber of Commerce in 2019 and will continue the work to make sure business leaders always have a seat at the table. Every minute a business owner has to spend wading through state bureaucracy is less time focused on their business and less time to put food on their family’s table. As Secretary of State, I will save small businesses time and money by cutting red tape to make government more efficient and transparent. The Secretary of State’s Office cannot be another bureaucratic hoop to jump through. While my opponent has cut critical customer service making it harder for entrepreneurs to register and maintain their businesses, I’ll keep my focus on transforming this office into the gateway to Montana’s economy. We need an advocate for the needs of Main Street as our Secretary of State. Arrow-Circle-Right What will you do to further streamline business services in this position? This campaign has focused on listening to Main Street businesses, farmers, and ranchers about the challenges they face with today’s Secretary of State office. Our plan will make this office more business friendly than ever before. We will: • Create a unified business portal where businesses can see every step required to start up a new business across state and local government • Support business leaders and
entrepreneurs by cutting red tape and needless bureaucracy • Create a business council so business leaders always have a seat at the table • Meet Montanans where they are by allowing for electronic and paper filings • Fix the Secretary of State website and streamlining online filing so Montanans of all web proficiency can quickly register or renew a business • Use customers information for business services only, not political grandstanding Arrow-Circle-Right Like most elected officials, Secretaries of State can bring their own projects or initiatives to the job. What would you do that’s outside the formal job description? The first step an entrepreneur takes is registering with the Secretary of State, but it should not be the only service this office provides. I’ll work with Main Street businesses to cut bureaucracy and red tape and give them a one stop shop to grow and thrive. We will partner with business leaders from across the state to build a Business Council allowing our office to know exactly how we can best give businesses the tools they need to succeed especially in these difficult times. We will build an online business portal where new businesses can find every link, form, and resource they will need, at the state and local level, for each of the steps to start and maintain their business. No more confusion, no more unnecessary website changes, and no more political grandstanding - just simple, straightforward answers for busy people. We are eager to work with you to help Main Street recover and get Montanans back to work. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Deputy Secretary of State CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.christijacobsen.com
on business filings, reduced staff by a third, consolidated government leases from 4 locations to 1, and saved millions of dollars. We were one of the first states to implement remote notarization. We served our voters by strengthening the integrity of our elections and implemented security best practices.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I have over 20 years of combined public and private sector experience, with a Bachelor’s Degree from Carroll College and a Master’s Degree from University of Montana in Public Administration. I was born and raised in Helena where my husband and I raised our five kids. I currently serve as the Deputy Secretary of State. Under my leadership in the last three plus years, we have successfully improved services to businesses and voters while reducing spending. We were first in the nation to go completely digital with business filings, offered businesses to file 24/7 and on their mobile phone. As a result, we eliminated 50,000 errors
Arrow-Circle-Right What makes you the pro-business candidate for this office? As your next Secretary of State, I will strongly advocate for Montana businesses and economy. Government doesn’t grow the economy, businesses do. I will partner with the business community to make Montana a business friendly state and grow jobs to keep Montana kids here. During my time as Deputy Secretary of State, we have not increased fees on businesses, and I promise no fee increases for the next four years as your next Secretary of State. With our business first approach that I have instituted, when Montana businesses call our office for help, wait times have been reduced from up to two hours to 30 seconds. During the shelter in place, our office remained open to the public and continued to serve businesses safely without delay including offering remote online notarization. Also, as a member of the Land Board I will vote to support agriculture, responsibly develop
our natural resources and reduce bureaucracy. Arrow-Circle-Right What will you do to further streamline business services in this position? Under my leadership as the Deputy Secretary of State, we have already streamlined business services by being the first in the nation to go completely digital, providing service on your mobile phone 24/7 days a week, eliminating 50,000 errors annually and providing quicker responses to the businesses that contact our office. As a result of more efficient service, business filing fees have not been increased and will not be increased under my continued leadership. We have created a culture of continuous improvement and will build upon these achievements.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Arrow-Circle-Right Like most elected officials, Secretaries of State can bring their own projects or initiatives to the job. What would you do that’s outside the formal job description? Montana is currently using a 20-year-old election system that is outdated and needs to be replaced. We procured a new system that now needs to be implemented which will strengthen election integrity. As your next Secretary of State, this is a priority for me to finish the job. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 2
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Retired Educator CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.mcmurtry4PSC.com
I will show up at meetings, stick up for ratepayers and stand up to the monopoly corporations and utilities who want to raise rates without justification for doing so. What has been happening for the past 3 1/2 years is wrong. It is time to put the Public back in the PSC and I intend to do just that.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. My name is Valerie McMurtry and I am running for the Public Service Commission, District 2. I am running because it is time to put the Public back in the PSC. The voter and ratepayer deserves someone who will put them before the shareholders of corporations. The voter deserves someone who will show up at PSC meetings and speak up for the ratepayer who pays their utility, water, sewage and phone bills every month. Whether you rent or own, you pay for these services. It is time that voters choose someone who will represent them.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. My approach to the PSC would be to look at this agency as it exists and functions today, with the possibility of restructuring it. The PSC needs to be responsive to the ratepayer. There are certain issues, such as “pre-approval”, that need to be examined, questioned and possibly changed. If necessary I would work with the legislature to make these changes that are needed. The PSC considers corporate utility requests for rate increases, pre-approval, or adjustments to the service provided to ratepayer. It is the function of the PSC to make decisions based on the information and details provided by the monopoly utility. The staff of the PSC provides research on the issues that come before it. All decisions should be in the best
interest of the voter and ratepayer. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. I do not, at this time, see the necessity of additional staff. The PSC already has an incredible legal and research staff. For independent advocacy the Montana Consumer Council fill that need. Unless the MCC or PSC staff was not fulfilling their duty, I don’t think it is necessary for increased cost to the taxpayers of Montana. The current PSC costs Montana taxpayer more than $600,000. Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? If there was a deadlock that could not be resolved, then I would be in favor of mediation, or a mutually agreed upon resolution process. PSC decisions should not result in contested cases because the number of commissioners is an odd number. So there will always be a tie breaker. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Commissioner, Montana PSC, District 2 CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.tonyforpsc.com
information, I have learned greatly from discussions with our professional staff, other commissioners, testimony from all parties, engagement with 2 committees of the National Assn of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and membership on the Governor’s Information Sharing Advisory Council (MT-ISAC).
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. Four years of college philosophy focused on reading and discussion of the Great Books with (largely) the same classmates developed in me a skill and aptitude for listening closely to other ideas without prejudgment and skill in formulating questions to help in my understanding (and theirs). This intellectual curiosity has been a guiding characteristic which has helped me to gain an understanding of the issues the PSC deals with and the ability to make fair and balanced decisions. In addition to thorough preparation before work sessions by reading all the pertinent
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. A very interesting question. Certainly the principal role of the PSC is to render decisions which are faithful the guidelines dictated by Federal and State law. There are, however, several issues which the law leaves up to the commissions in each state. As an example, my vote has been to help establish Commission policies which are intended to make long term contracts for alternative energy projects more fair to ratepayers. I believe that my role in forging commission precedents that have shifted a portion of rate risk from the shoulders of captive ratepayers has been very beneficial. The commission does support, oppose or sponsor legislation we feel makes the regulation process more equitable and efficient.
Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. I am quite satisfied that the Montana Consumer Council, an agency established in the Montana Constitution, is successfully accomplishing the important job of giving proper advocacy for the people of Montana. Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? The PSC is constrained by Montana law defining proper procedures designed to insure the rights of all parties to a matter. Because this is an area where the PSC operates within our ‘quasijudicial’ role, we have little discretion to reach decisions which must be based on legally submitted testimony. I am all in favor of less formal, time consuming and expensive dispute resolution practices as long as they meet the very important standard of protecting the rights of all parties. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 2
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 3
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Attorney and Business Owner CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.jamesbrownformontana.com
this race who (1) is a business owner and (2) is a member of the Montana Chamber of Commerce and (3) has signed both the front and back of a paycheck.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am a fourth-generation Montanan who owns and operates his own law firm with offices in Dillon and Helena. As part of my legal practice, I have represented a wide variety of business clients, ranging from agriculture producers to fish and game outfitters. I have also represented motor carriers and alternative energy producers. As such, I have a strong grasp of industries regulated by the PSC and those who appear before the Commission. Of note, I am the ONLY candidate in
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. The Montana Public Service Commission is a quasi-judicial regulatory body tasked with applying the law fairly and evenhandedly, not a legislative body tasked with making the law. Should I be elected to serve as Commissioner, I will always act within the legal authority granted to the PSC by the Montana Legislature, and not use the office to push radical agendas or as a platform for making public policy. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. The Office of Consumer Counsel is established by the Montana Constitution
and is specifically tasked to advocate on behalf of consumers of regulated utilities. As a PSC Commissioner, I have no say in whether to ‘leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council.” That decision was already made by the people of the State of Montana in 1972 with the adoption of the ‘new’ Montana Constitution. This being stated, as a PSC Commissioner I see no need for or basis for the Commission to request that the Montana Legislature authorize the Commission to hire additional state employees to serve as advocates for the Commission. The PSC’s mission is to serve as a neutral, balanced regulator— not to act as an advocate for either the regulated entity or the consumer. Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? I support the PSC mission and structure as currently constituted. The structure of the PSC is sound, so long as the commissioners themselves have the skillset and interest (as I do) to carry out their duties. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Physics Instructor, State Legislator CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.tomwoodsforpsc.com
relationships with legislators across the aisle. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent your interests in a process that normally puts regular people (and small businesses) at a disadvantage. I’m running for an open seat on the Public Service Commission because this state can do a far better job of protecting our ratepayers and promoting clean energy development for export to western markets.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and first came to work in Montana in 1982 when I was 19 years old. I met my wife Katie in 1992 and we moved to Bozeman in 1997. We are blessed with two great boys, Kelty and Finnian, who are 15 and 13. I first ran (successfully) for the state legislature in 2012 because I believe in government that serves the interests of people. As one of your legislators, my particular focus has been trying to bring fairness to the way our monopoly utility treats ratepayers. In four terms in the House of Representatives I’ve built good
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. Although the responsibility of a Commissioner is to enforce existing law, I would use my experience as a legislator to try to make desperately needed changes to the current regulatory structure. As a legislator, I have learned that there are laws that were put in place in order to rescue NWE from bankruptcy. The company has long since emerged from insolvency yet those laws are still on the books, granting them special privileges that are stifling innovation, driving up property taxes and inflating energy costs for ratepayers.
The current system of asset valuation has resulted in consumers being saddled with paying high return rates (10 percent or more) on inflated valuations. This is a strange and unfair means to compensate a utility. It has resulted in a system by which the company is incentivized to purchase more expensive facilities. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. I am hesitant to create a new agency if the work can already be accomplished by an existing staff.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 3
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? I’m uncertain that a parallel process would be of benefit. My hesitation comes from a suspicion that certain parties will game the system and pursue resolution in whichever system they felt would get them their desired result. With that said, I’m open to discussion on the matter. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 4
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Business Owner CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.jenniferfielder.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. My husband Paul and I live near Thompson Falls in beautiful Northwest Montana. We have two grown children and five little grandchildren. We enjoy managing our timber land for optimal health, and like many Montanans, we love the outdoors. I have been a successful business owner for the past 20+ years. These last 8 years, I had the honor of representing a large portion of Northwest Montana in the State Senate. I also served as CEO of a national nonprofit organization for 4 years. Professionally, I have worked on projects involving railways, pipelines, large utilities, public works projects, federal energy regulatory proceedings, engineering, finance, litigation management, and regulatory compliance. In addition to the valuable experiences I have gained related to the functions of the Public Service Commission and the industries it regulates, I offer the strong work ethic, objective thinking, and commitment to integrity that I believe will serve the PSC, and the people, well.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. In alignment with existing law, I intend to approach this position as a fair and objective regulator. By law, the Commissionâ€™s function is that of a regulatory agency, not a policy influencer. I believe it is important for the Commission to operate in accordance with the existing laws. I have great respect for the separation of powers and checks and balances established in our state and national constitutions. As the PSC is a quasi-judicial entity, it is critical to maintain objectivity and refrain from judicial activism. I will do my best to adhere to the laws that are set before us by the legislature, to review each case with an open mind, and to respect the separation of powers principles established in our constitutions. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. As established by the State Constitution, Montana has a fully-funded rate-payer advocacy agency that is independent of the PSC. It is important to maintain this separation so this agency (MCC Montana Consumer Counsel) can focus specifically on representing the interests of the rate-payers without any undue influence from the PSC (either real or perceived). For these reasons, I feel it is prudent to leave the rate-payer advocacy duties
with the MCC as opposed to creating a new government entity that is tied to the PSC; however if the MCC is in need of improvement to carry out its duties better, I would favor state action to make those improvements. Regarding policy or issue advocacy, the avenues for this are established within the constitutional democratic process via the legislative branch. This is the setting specifically designed for advocacy organizations, citizens, lobbyists, and elected representatives from throughout Montana to debate and consider changes in policy. Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? There may be other methods that I am not familiar with, but I believe the Contested Case Process is designed to be a transparent and fair method. For example, under this process all parties have an equal opportunity to present their views and share facts (which they must do under oath), and it also allows witnesses to be questioned by members of the Commission. It is a public hearing process which provides important opportunity for both sides of an issue to be heard, as well as opportunity for Commission members to seek clarification. I would have to carefully scrutinize the details of any proposed Alternative Dispute Process to assess whether or not it is apt to be fair and transparent; and ultimately whether it might be better or worse than the current standard. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Attorney CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.tranelforpsc.com
water and property rights, and regulatory issues in front of the PSC. I’m running for Commissioner to make Montana an energy leader in today’s economy. I’ve helped developers invest millions of dollars to build wind energy projects in Montana. And I’ve fought for Montanans, keeping $10 million in the pockets of Montana’s businesses and families.
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I was raised on a ranch in Eastern Montana with my nine siblings. I live with my husband and three daughters and enjoy spending time hiking and skiing with my family on Montana’s public lands. I’m a team player who knows how to work hard and get things done. Rowing with the US Women’s team, I won a World Championship Gold for the USA and twice competed in the Olympics. I have two decades of experience fighting for Montanans as an attorney, arguing in front of the PSC and in the courtroom. I run Tranel Law Firm and represent clients who want to invest in renewable energy projects, as well as
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you approach your role in this position as a policy influencer, advocating as such, or as a regulator, applying and enforcing existing law? Please explain. Within the confines of the law, the Commission in its regulatory role can and should be a leader in providing for an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system. The role of the Public Service Commission is to regulate monopoly utilities. As a creature of statute, the Commission implements the policy set by the legislature. As Commissioner, I will abide by the mandate of the legislature, and work to set just and fair rates for all Montanans, including our small business and local suppliers that are a significant part of Montana’s economy, and to ensure that regulated utilities provide adequate service. Arrow-Circle-Right Do you favor the creation of
an advocacy staff for the PSC (independent in action, but administratively tied), or to leave that responsibility to the Montana Consumer Council? Please explain. The Montana Consumer Counsel is a constitutionally created agency to represent consumers in front of the Commission, and should continue to do so. In the past the Commission has on occasion created an advocacy staff where the specific docket has warranted it, but in general, that has not been the process utilized at the Commission. Due to the small staff of the Commission and the resources of the parties that bring cases to it for decision, it is important to be careful in utilizing the Commission’s resources, and allowing the Consumer Counsel to perform its role.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DISTRICT 4
Arrow-Circle-Right Would you support alternative dispute resolution practices over the traditional contested case process when such matters come before the PSC? Why or why not? I would consider any reasonable options that would streamline decision making while ensuring fair process and transparency of decision making. Alternative dispute resolution can be helpful but all parties must be allowed a full and fair process and transparency of decision making. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
SUPREME COURT OF STATE MONTANA AUDITOR #5
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Attorney in Private Practice CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.blackformontana.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I have deep Montana roots, growing up in a Havre railroad and homesteader family. As a boy, I sold items door-to-door, like pumpkins from the garden, to make money. I worked through school in jobs such as dishwasher, fry cook, farmhand, and janitor. I attended public schools, graduated with high honors from the University of Montana, then graduated from Cornell Law School. I turned down a career on Wall Street and returned home. I have represented people from all walks of life in cases all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. I argued cases at the Montana Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals many times. I worked for Attorneys General of both parties, fighting to enforce Montana law and fighting dark money in our elections. I later joined Montana Legal Services, working to increase access to justice for our less fortunate. I now focus on breach of fiduciary duty claims. In my spare time, I travel Montana, enjoy our public lands, and spend time with family.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right What issue(s) inspired your run for this office? Commitment to Montana, first and foremost. I decided to run when Justice McKinnon said she would retire and move back to the East Coast. I will serve a full eight-year term if elected. Provided my health allows, I will run again to serve eight more years. Second, Montana has given much to me and my family. I want to give back on the Court by upholding the Constitution, holding fast to settled law, and protecting access to justice so people of Montana and their businesses can thrive. Third, I offer experience different from other Justices. I have worked on complex civil cases for over 30 years. I fought dark money in our elections. I want to use my background to help shape consistent and fair decisions that let us all know where we stand. Finally, I hope to leave Montana a better place for our children—and their children. I am committed to public service, hard work, and rigorous legal analysis. I respect others and can build consensus. I will work for Montana as long as I am able. Arrow-Circle-Right Explain how the Court should reach the appropriate balance between following precedent and allowing for flexibility in the law. Overturning precedent should be rare. Ignoring it must be avoided. Law at times must change, but flexibility cannot be arbitrary. Absent special circumstances, like cases should be treated alike. Following precedent helps keep the scale of justice even and steady. It allows for stability so that we may conduct our affairs and business in an orderly manner, by giving us the ability to know how the law will likely treat our conduct. Respect
for precedent promotes consistent development of law, encourages reliance on courts and helps us believe the law is fair. Yet, the rule of precedent is not cast in stone. Precedent should not be discarded simply because the case was not decided correctly, but should be overruled only if the case is difficult to understand or enforce, later factual or legal developments undermine its reasoning, and reliance on the case is not so great that overturning it is unfair. Any departure from precedent must be principled and spelled out. Always. Arrow-Circle-Right To what extent do you believe that a judge should or should not defer to the actions of the legislature? A judge should always defer to actions of the legislature when the legislature acts within its power. Legislators weigh public policy and pass laws. That’s why they’re elected. Where legislative action is expressed in a statute, a judge should apply the terms of an unambiguous statute as it is written, unless the statute is challenged as being unconstitutional and the judge decides the statute is unconstitutional. If a statute is ambiguous because the language is susceptible to more than one reasonable interpretation, the judge should try to determine the intent of the legislature, respect any such intent, and apply the statute in harmony with other statutes so all statutes are given effect. A judge must discern applicable law, apply it to facts, and resolve disputes. Period. A judge must never act on personal or political bias, favoritism, or whim. A judge must always uphold the U.S. and Montana Constitutions, and enforce constitutional statutes. That’s why judges are elected. stop
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Justice, Montana Supreme Court CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.mckinnon2020.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I am currently a justice on the Montana Supreme Court nearing completion of my first eight-year term. Previously, I served for six years as a district judge. I have been a lawyer for 33 years. Being elected by Montanans and serving as their judge and justice for the past 14 years is the highest honor I have received in my career. I love my work as a justice and making the hard decisions required of the highest court in the state. I am committed to my work; tirelessly write, read, and research; and I believe strongly in making decisions which are independent, impartial, and based on the rule of law. I bring to the court experience as a mother of four who, together with her husband of 34 years, raised a family in a small, rural Montana community. All four of our children and their families live and work in Montana. I am committed to improving the lives of Montanans who come to court. Court services and access to justice must innovate to meet the needs of its users. Arrow-Circle-Right What issue(s) inspired your run for this office? One reason I ran
for the Court in 2012 was that neither candidate had any experience as a judge. An appellate court evaluates the decisions made during trial by the trial judge and experience having made those decisions is invaluable to the Court and the perspective of a justice. I want to continue on the Court and serve Montana because I am committed to the rule of law and protecting the separation of power between the three branches of government. Judicial experience on Montanaâ€™s highest court matters. A judge must be practiced in making impartial decisions based on rules of law, statutes, and the constitution. I have never contributed or worked for any campaign because I believe strongly a judge must appear and actually be independent. Personal agendas must only be advanced through the voting process. Respect for these important principles and protecting constitutional rights of Montana citizens is crucial to our governance and what has inspired me to continue on the Court. Arrow-Circle-Right Explain how the Court should reach the appropriate balance between following precedent and allowing for flexibility in the law. Precedent represents the collective reasoning of numerous justices and compositions of the Court developed and scrutinized by the Court over often a lengthy period of time. Following precedent provides Montanans with consistency, notice, organization, and the ability to plan and expect certain actions from those with which we interact. The requirement courts follow precedent is a fundamental pillar of our judicial system and distinguishes us from other nations in the world. We should depart from precedent only when it is manifestly wrong, such as when it
violates the Constitution or the plain meaning of a statute enacted by the legislature. History, unfortunately, provides examples of judges failing to act independently to protect the constitutional rights of its citizensâ€”the judges maintaining they were following precedent. Justices must always consider arguments precedent should be reevaluated, but not reverse the collective judgment of the Court unless manifestly wrong.
SUPREME COURT OF MONTANA #5
Arrow-Circle-Right To what extent do you believe that a judge should or should not defer to the actions of the legislature? The law requires the Court presume actions of the legislature are constitutional and that we not address a constitutional issue if the issue can be decided on non-constitutional grounds. In this manner, the Court defers to actions of the legislature. My decisions have followed these fundamental principles. The Court must protect the constitution. The Legislature establishes the agenda and policy for Montana. The will of the people as expressed by the Legislature must be respected by the Court and is entitled to deference. The role of the legislature is to enact policy, change, improvementsâ€”through its representative form of government. I value and understand these core principles of separation, as our governance and democracy are tethered to the independence of each branch of government. As a justice, my personal opinions about actions of the Legislature are not relevant and may not be part of my decision. The Court must defer to constitutional legislative actions. stop
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
SUPREME COURT OF STATE MONTANA AUDITOR #6
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Supreme Court Justice CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.sheaforjustice.com
Arrow-Circle-Right Briefly introduce yourself. I’m a fourth generation Montanan. I was born and raised in Butte, the youngest child in a large Irish Catholic family. After graduating from Central Catholic, I went to the University of Montana for both college and law school. My mom was widowed when I was still a kid, and I worked my way through college with work study jobs and bartending during the school year, and manual labor (sewer worker, demolition, asphalt) during the summers. After law school, I clerked for Chief Judge Hatfield at the federal court in Great Falls. My wife and I then moved to Portland so she could go to graduate school, after which we returned home to Montana. I practiced civil and criminal law until I was appointed Workers’ Compensation Judge in 2005. I served in that position until I was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2014. My wife Kathy and I met in college and married in 1989. We have two incredible daughters, Kate and Moira.
MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Arrow-Circle-Right What issue(s) inspired your run for this office? When this seat on the Court became vacant in 2014, I had been Workers’ Compensation Judge for over eight years, and I had developed a reputation on both sides as a fair judge who just always tried to reach the correct result. Over 90% of my decisions had been affirmed by the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of those had been affirmed unanimously. Although I loved my job at the Work Comp Court, I was encouraged to run by lawyers on all sides: lawyers who represented insurance companies, employers, and injured workers. I prayed about it, had some long discussions with my family, and ultimately decided I was up for this new challenge. I have never regretted my decision to seek a seat on the Supreme Court. It has been my highest honor to serve the people of Montana on the Supreme Court and I have truly enjoyed working with all of my colleagues. Arrow-Circle-Right Explain how the Court should reach the appropriate balance between following precedent and allowing for flexibility in the law. Our standard for overturning precedent is only when a prior decision is “manifestly wrong. My opinion as to when overturning precedent is appropriate is best summed up in my dissenting opinion in State v. Running Wolf, 2020 MT 24, which I encourage you to read. Running Wolf was a rare 4-3 decision, in which Justices Baker, Rice, and myself dissented from the Court’s holding that overturned several of our previous decisions interpreting the persistent felony offender statute. While acknowledging that the majority’s
interpretation of the statute was “an entirely reasonable” one, I dissented because it “[was] not ... this Court’s interpretation prior to today, and since 1985.” Although it is critically important that a court be willing to overturn a decision that is “manifestly wrong”—Brown v. Board of Education being the classic example—the effective functioning of our system requires that the citizens be able to rely on the continuity and consistency of the Supreme Court. Arrow-Circle-Right To what extent do you believe that a judge should or should not defer to the actions of the legislature? Early in my tenure on the Court, I was confronted by a friend who expressed his disappointment that I had voted to uphold the constitutionality of a statute he knew I privately disagreed with. When he asked why, I answered simply, “It’s my job to decide whether or not a law is constitutional, not whether or not I like it.” I am a big believer that the separation of powers functions correctly when each branch stays in its own lane. We have a system for enacting legislation, and it doesn’t involve the judiciary. The Court’s function is to apply the law as written by the legislature, and we have very clearly defined parameters for doing so. We apply the plain statutory language as written, not how we would have liked it to be written. If the language is subject to interpretation, we look at the legislative history to endeavor to apply the law as the legislature intended. Only in those instances in which a statute is unconstitutional is it appropriate to invalidate it on those grounds. stop
Get Energized. Vote. Registering to vote is the first step to making your voice heard. The second is to learn about the candidates and issues and the third is to cast your votes. Energy is an important issue in 2020. NorthWestern Energy is leading the way in clean energy. More than 60% of the energy we produce for Montana comes from renewable and carbon-free sources, including hydro, wind and solar. We are one of the cleanest energy companies in the United States. Nationwide, the total electric power industry is 40% carbon free. As a leader in clean energy, we are committed to further reductions in our carbon output pledging to reduce the carbon intensity of our electric energy portfolio for Montana by 90 percent by 2045. Over the last decade, we have reduced the carbon intensity of our energy generation in Montana by more than 50%. In the last five years alone, we have invested more than $1 billion in clean energy projects, including hydro, wind, and solar facilities. Nothing is more important to the people of NorthWestern Energy than safely providing our customers with the affordable and reliable energy we all need, while also protecting our environment.
EYE ON THE VOTE 2020
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