Family: Husband and son, 19
Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia
Occupation: Writer – newspaper reporter, magazine freelancer, author
Background: Former foster mother and foster respite care; former board member with Literacy Volunteers of the Flathead; Flathead County Libertarian party chairwoman and Montana Libertarian Party secretary.
Q. A slate of budget cuts were made in 2017 to address a $227 million shortfall caused by less than anticipated revenue and an expensive fire season. What should the priorities be in the state budget in the next legislative session?
A. First, we should be more careful in the projection model we use to estimate revenues. Montana is not the only state increasingly overestimating revenues and thus crafting budgets that are not credible. We should remove restrictive professional licensing requirements to jump start the job market and legalize recreational cannabis so Montana doesn’t continuing losing revenue, taxes and tourists to our neighboring states. We need to prioritize taxpayers’ precious money by focusing on state services that are unreasonable to expect the private section, both for-profits and nonprofits to manage effectively.
Q. Do you support a sales tax or other tax increases as a way to shore up the budget and increase revenue?
A. I do believe voters in towns across Montana should be able to raise local sales taxes if they decide it makes sense for their community, but I would not support a statewide sales tax, unless it were a replacement for income and/or property taxes. However, I do support legalizing recreational cannabis and applying a statewide sales tax.
Q. Montana’s Medicaid expansion program is set to expire in 2019. Should the state renew this program?
A. Although many of the people covered by Medicaid expansion are caught in a tough situation, I am not in favor of continuing the expansion. I believe doing so would only worsen and perpetuate a flawed and corrupting system. Dropping expansion will require us to address underlying problems to our job markets and health-care system with creativity and innovation, which will not happen if we take the easy way and build layers on a toppling system.
Q. Which other issues would you like to see addressed by the Legislature?
A. Criminal justice reform in Montana has come a long way, but it has much further to go. I will champion a measure to restrict handcuffing of incarcerated pregnant women during labor and require prenatal care for incarcerated women and their unborn. I will also work to reform the bail system, which currently penalizes low-income young people, increases the likelihood of repeat offenses, failed court appearances, and costs taxpayers who are facing spending hundreds of millions to build new jails across the state.
I am devoted to food and food-industry freedom. We should legalize raw milk, recreational cannabis, and liberalize brewery, distillery and farm-product restrictions.
I also intend to work to modernize Montana’s resource and conservation laws and regulations so that environmental, ranch, and resource developers are able to cooperate more easily and prevent so many issues ending up in court.
Q. Why are you the right choice to represent your district?
A. I believe two character traits contribute to me being the kind of candidate Whitefish residents want representing them in Helena. First, I think critically and about root causes, relying on evidence-based reasoning with a healthy sense of compassion. Second, I think broadly. I am able to pick up different lenses, view problems from many perspectives, while holding fast to my fundamental belief that individual liberty is the bedrock supporting greater equality and progress.