[Editor’s note: This week the Inter Lake will profile each of the candidates in the contested Republican primary election for Flathead County commissioner.]
Randy Brodehl has spent most of his life as a public servant, logging nearly four decades as a career firefighter. He aims to continue his public service as the next District 3 county commissioner.
Brodehl, along with fellow Republicans Gerald “Jay” Scott and Ronalee Skees, are challenging incumbent Commissioner Gary Krueger in the June 5 primary election.
When Brodehl introduces himself, he emphasizes that he’s a “conservative Republican.” His campaign literature heralds that word, too: “Conservative for county commissioner.”
“I’ll be a ‘no’ vote on growing government and overreach,” he said. “We are a citizen government and we have a responsibility to lead well in government.
“I see the need for the county commissioners to be strong on public safety, budget skills and protecting property rights.”
Brodehl comes to the county government arena with eight years of political experience as a state representative for House District 9, which covers the Evergreen and northeast Kalispell areas.
As a member of the state House Appropriations Committee, Brodehl said
he has been involved in making changes in the corrections budget that are strengthening the process for processing inmates faster. State sentencing reform has reduced jail populations by not imprisoning some offenders “who aren’t a risk,” he said.
As a result, Flathead County has seen its jail census reduced, Brodehl said, but added that the “wild card” is the opioid issue.
“There is no government agency that can fix that, and it will impact the number of people in jail,” he said.
Brodehl supports putting money aside for future jail needs, but would not “burden taxpayers with a bond.”
Regarding the issue of how to fund ongoing maintenance for the 911 dispatch center, Brodehl said he met with the director and learned “the resources are there currently to run the center,” but he sees the need for organizational restructuring.
“Right now there are three people in leadership, but there’s no strong chain of command,” he said, explaining that the center leaders answer to the 911 board of directors.
“I believe there are the right people there to do the job. The board can help them get there, can help with structuring,” Brodehl said. He sees the need for developing 5-, 20- and 30-year operation plans for the center.
Brodehl said he recognizes the need for the county to strengthen relations with the three incorporated cities. He suggested meet-and-greet events with the cities — “and not talk politics.”
Given the current brisk economic growth in the Flathead, Brodehl said growth “can be managed to the best advantage for all of us.
“Individual private property rights are of paramount importance to Flathead County residents, and protecting individual property rights and planning for growth is not an either/or proposition. We can do both,” he said. “Government regulation of private property should only go as far as necessary to protect legitimate health and safety issues associated with that growth and no further.”
Brodehl doesn’t see the need for a countywide building permit system “because I don’t believe that’s what the people want.”
Although the fate of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact is now in the hands of the Congress, Brodehl has continued to voice his opposition to the water compact.
“It’s a taking of rights,” he said. We already have a process for managing those rights. The federal government is reaching into your water supply and then putting the tribe in charge.”
Brodehl said the county’s fiscal focus needs to be mindful of local taxpayers at every turn.
“As commissioners we need to always know that every time we increase the budget it’s reaching into taxpayers’ pockets, maybe faster than they can generate” the money.
Brodehl also weighed in on the water bottling plant controversy.
“If a person has a piece of property and applies for the permits and meets the intent of the law, he should be able to move ahead” with the project, he said. “That said, we’re not at that point because Judge Allison remanded it back to [the commissioners] to hear all the testimony ... if the applicant [has met all the criteria] the commissioners should support doing what he wants to do on private property.”
Brodehl further commented that the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has the responsibility of monitoring and managing water in Montana. “When a permit is issued, it’s with their knowledge and approval,” he said. “After a permit is issued it’s [the state’s] responsibility to measure quantities and quality. They must continue to monitor; it’s not the county’s responsibility.”
Brodehl said if he’s elected, he and his wife will shutter their cabinet business so he can commit his full-time attention to the job of commissioner.
Features Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze
Brodehl strong on property rights, fiscal constraint
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