New candidates enter legislative races

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Two more candidates filed this week for legislative races in the Flathead Valley.

Kalispell engineer Sid Daoud has entered the race for Montana House District 8 as a libertarian.

“I’m very passionate about giving people a third choice,” he told the Daily Inter Lake. “I really don’t want to be a legislator, but I desperately want things to change.”

Daoud said that he felt the Legislature had devoted too much attention to matters, like Sharia law and immigration, that have little relevance to Big Sky Country. If elected, he said, he would focus on “Montana-specific issues.”

He identified one of these issues as the Kalispell area’s relatively low average income, coupled with its high housing costs. A free-market advocate, Daoud predicted that growing area businesses could create an incentive to invest in low-income housing.

He also voiced support for the controversial Montana Artesian Water Company bottling plant, calling for “non-biased research” into its impact, and saying that “it would be great to have a business that actually creates a product and exports it.”

While third-party candidates often struggle to compete, both in Montana and nationwide, Daoud said that “the Libertarian movement in Montana has really exploded in the past few years,” and predicted that voters would warm to its emphasis on rights and freedoms.

Daoud works as a solutions engineer for CompuServe, and is active in the local cancer support community.

He currently faces John Fuller, a Republican. Incumbent Steve Lavin, also a Republican, has not yet filed for re-election.

Also new to the field this week is Whitefish resident Mary Custer, running as a Democrat for the House District 6 seat currently held by Rep. Karl Glimm, R-Kila.

“Looking at [Glimm’s] voting record over the last few years in the Legislature,” Custer said, “I just don’t think that the way he’s voting is going to create a positive outcome for our community here.”

The daughter of a retired teacher, Custer said that “public education is a top priority for me.” Other issues of concern she identified included: “children’s health care, health care for our veterans, mental health care, helping the disabled people in our community.”

She added that state government had to meet all of these needs while keeping a balanced budget. “I’m not talking about more spending, I’m talking about more responsible spending.”

Custer said she had not yet identified areas where spending could be cut or revenue increased.

Custer worked in graphic design for 15 years, then as deputy clerk of court for Flathead County and as a legal assistant for law firms in Helena and Whitefish. She is involved in Saint John Paul II Catholic Church.

Further afield, Trout Creek resident Gerald J. Cullivier has entered the race for House District 13’s seat as a Democrat.

A retiree and ranch owner, Cullivier said that transferring Montana’s federal lands to state control would be his top priority if elected.

“I don’t think the federal government is doing a very good job” managing its lands, he said, citing recent wildfires and regulatory hurdles facing mining projects. “That kind of stuff needs to change. We need jobs, we need revenue.”

“We cannot be a sovereign state if we do not control the land within our borders,” he continued, arguing that currently “we are an occupied territory, not a state.”

He faces State Rep. Bob Brown, R-Thompson Falls, who filed for re-election this week. He could not be reached for comment.

Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly@dailyinterlake.com, or at 758-4407.

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