March 12 marked the filing deadline for Montana’s legislative races. The Daily Inter Lake is profiling the many last-minute candidates who entered Flathead Valley races.
Cindy Dyson has entered the race for House District 05 as a Libertarian. “I’m just sick of watching the yelling matches that are passing for political discourse these days,” she said.
She’s particularly concerned about three areas: criminal justice reform, which she says she would pursue by ensuring changes enacted in the 2017 legislative session are working, and working to improve conditions for incarcerated women; environmental issues, which she says are too heavily litigated; and ethics in state elections.
“I think one of the things that I bring is a combination of very evidence-based reasoning, along with a strong sense of compassion to dealmaking,” she said.
Dyson, 50, is a writer and chairs the Flathead County Libertarian Party. She’s also involved with Literacy Volunteers and a Detroit literacy organization.
Democrat Jim Cossitt is running for the House District 7 seat currently held by Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell.
Cossitt has worked for over three decades as an attorney focusing on bankruptcy and debtor-creditor issues. “I have a lot of experience dealing with the people at the bottom two-thirds of the socioeconomic ladder,” he said, “and I want to translate that experience into writing the rules of the game.”
“I’ve seen upfront and closely how some of our policies contribute to economic inequality.” If elected, he said, he would focus on economic issues, including a livable wage, equal pay and affordable housing. He’s also concerned about ethics in state government, and upholding First Amendment rights.
Cossitt, 60, is a member of the Glacier Mountaineering Society.
Bob Petersen is running as a Democrat for House District 9, against Republicans Warren Illi and David Dunn.
The 65-year-old retiree and Army veteran said he was running “partly because I’m sick and tired of seeing Republican names on that ballot with no one running to oppose them...I’m unwilling to accept that.”
“I answered my country’s call once before, so I guess I’m going to have to answer it again,” he said.
His most important issue is climate change, he said. “That affects so many aspects of our lives.” He wants Montana to develop its wind power industry. While an avid hunter, Petersen also believes that “civilians have no business having military-grade weapons.”
Petersen is retired after working in a variety of trades.
Kalispell’s JoBeth Blair is running as a Democrat against Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, in the race to represent House District 11.
“I think it’s really important that the Montanans in District 11 have a choice for effective leadership and representation in Helena,” she said. While not wanting to dismiss any issues as unimportant, she voiced particular interest in public land access, education and health care. “I think all of those are all interconnected to the economy.”
Blair said she plans to speak with residents in the weeks ahead, then craft more specific policy recommendations. She emphasized that, if elected, she would seek consensus with her constituents and fellow lawmakers.
“You represent your district, and not just the people who voted for you. That means you have an obligation to work with people who have different approaches to the same issue,” she said.
Blair, 42, works as a real estate agent and volunteers at Kalispell Montessori, where her daughter attends school.
In Polson, Democrat Susan Evans is running against Rep. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, for House District 11’s seat.
She identified veterans’ care as her top priority, and would like to see social services open more satellite offices in the area. Her second issue is the state budget. “I think that nothing has ever been accomplished by cutting budgets,” she said, contrasting herself with Rep. Hertz on this issue.
“He seems to be too much focused on cutting services to the people who need it the most, and I’m not in favor of it at all.”
Evans, 68, has worked to feed the needy in Polson by volunteering with the Soup’s On and Friday Table Dinner programs. “I see just how desperate people really are...and it breaks my heart to see so many people falling through the cracks,” she said.
Evans also participates in the Lions Club and VFW Auxiliary, and owns A&R Trophies, Gifts & Shirts and Evans Engraving in Polson.
Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly
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