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Putnam challenging Dunn in House District 9 primary

by Colin Gaiser
Daily Inter Lake | April 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Republicans Brian Putnam will challenge incumbent David Dunn – currently in his first term – for the Montana House District 9 nomination in the June 2 primary election. The winner of the primary election will be uncontested in the Nov. 3 general election. Early voting begins May 8.

David Dunn

Age:32

Family: Bachelor, dog, cat, 8 Navajo-churro sheep

Occupation: Farm owner, DW Organics LLC

Background: Representative for House District 9

Website and/or email: facebook.com/dunnforhd9; david.dunn@mtleg.gov

How does your background qualify you for the role of state representative?

I’ve been the representative for Evergreen and Northeast Kalispell for the 2019-2020 term. I now have the institutional knowledge of working in Helena to be an effective legislator.

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing our state, and what would you do to address that issue?

We have an anti-business climate in Helena. I would support a new Republican governor in making our state more friendly to business by cleaning up state agencies and rescinding unnecessary regulations.

How do you feel about how the state is allocating its money? Could the Legislature better prioritize state spending, and how?

The Republican party has done the best it can to have a budget surplus for unknown contingencies when it ended the 2019 session. Our state is constitutionally obligated to have a balanced budget from the legislature. One problem I see is our teachers are not paid an equivalent wage to Idaho and Wyoming. These states have the ability to pay their teachers better because of their friendly business climate.

Montana continues to rank as one of the worst states in the nation for mental health and suicide rates. How would you work to improve this ranking?

Support our hospitals integrating with our communities and schools like Kalispell Regional is currently doing. I would emphasize including our churches in the outreach programs the hospital is already doing. We need our children to have a sense of community at church and understand the spiritual nature of life.

How do you assess the state’s and Gov. Bullock’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you begin to ensure our economy bounces back from measures such as temporarily closing non-essential businesses?

The governor took good financial advice from Representative Jones [Conrad] when the crisis hit. I see the governor’s response as average. We need to open up the economy as soon as it is responsibly possible. As a country we cannot afford to keep our economy not working in perpetuity. Efforts to make the federal election in November mail-in ballot only are disturbing. Our nation needs a national voter identification law and an economy open for business.

Brian Putnam

Age: 50

Family: Widower; two children, one a software developer in Boise, one a medical lab scientist at KRMC

Occupation: Head of engineering and mechanical engineer at Nomad GCS

Background: Fourth generation Montanan; former school board member.

Website and/or email: putnamhd9.com; putnamhd9@gmail.com

How does your background qualify you for the role of state representative? My regular job as a mechanical engineer is all about solving problems. On a daily basis, I am looking at what the desired outcome is, researching the facts, putting together possible solutions and picking the best one. I will be able to apply that analytical mindset towards solving problems that Montana is facing in general, and my district of Evergreen and North Kalispell in particular.

What do you see as the most pressing issue facing our state, and what would you do to address that issue?

The economic impact of Covid-19 and the ensuing shutdown on our state. I have been talking to business leaders in our community to create a plan that supports economic success. In the legislature, I intend to remove obstacles that prevent companies from starting, growing and creating higher-paying jobs.

How do you feel about how the state is allocating its money? Could the Legislature better prioritize state spending, and how?

In general, I think the last few sessions have resulted in an effective, workable budget. Thankfully, the last session ended up with a healthy surplus which is helping the state government to get through this crisis. We must continue to be fiscally conservative and reject needless government spending.

Montana continues to rank as one of the worst states in the nation for mental health and suicide rates. How would you work to improve this ranking?

Mental-health funding is one of my top three priorities, along with economic development and safe paths to schools. The first priority will be to restore funding that was cut by the Governor after the last legislative session. One low-cost solution we can implement is establishing “988” as the suicide prevention hotline. We need to take the stigma out of asking for help. The sooner we get help to a person struggling with mental health issues, the sooner we can stop the downward spiral that sometimes leads to suicide or substance abuse.

The deficiency in mental-health funding affects every area of our society – from preventing otherwise capable folks from contributing to our economy to increasing healthcare costs from a lack of community resources to keep our mentally infirm healthy. Some first responders I have spoken to believe that mental health problems often spur substance abuse, creating dual diagnosis issues that are difficult to address. As a fiscal conservative, I recognize the overall fiscal health of our state benefits from adequately funding mental health.

How do you assess the state’s and Gov. Bullock’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you begin to ensure our economy bounces back from measures such as temporarily closing non-essential businesses?

Fortunately, Montana will be one of the first states to recover from Covid-19. This recovery is due to the actions of everyday Montanans who put the needs of their families, friends and neighbors before their own. Together, we have prevented our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. The low number of cases, and the relatively low number of deaths could have been much worse.

In response to the good work of everyday Montanans, we need to ensure the state spends the allocated federal stimulus money effectively and puts dollars in the pockets of the Montanans that worked hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Every small business in Montana is essential to Montana’s economy. Service-based businesses most affected by the shutdown should be first to obtain the stimulus dollars, and that is my priority as a legislator.

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Brian Putnam