Three contend for House District 15
Forrestina “Frosty” Calf Boss Ribs and Jason Smith are competing for a seat in House District 15 held by incumbent Joe Read who is re-running for the position. All three bring diverse backgrounds, experience and views to the table.
Read, 57, is a lifelong resident of the Mission Valley and for the last 22 years he has been dispatched by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Division of Fire to work on large fires around the country, as well as natural disasters. He also raises hay on a small farm and earns money as a self-employed mechanic.
“I am like many Montanans; I wear different hats to make a living here,” Read said.
He has an associate degree in Forestry from Salish Kootenai College and has served on the Health and Human Services, Judiciary, and Agriculture committees during the last session.
He currently serves on the State Tribal Interim Committee where he said he listens to concerns and issues of tribal governments and assists them in the legislative process.
When asked why he is re-running, Read said it is because of his beliefs and values.
“I was born without hip sockets; I only have one now, and I look at the world totally different from most people,” Read said. “Nothing has come easy for me in life and I’ve had to fight for everything I have, which gives me an appreciation for those who have been treated unfairly.”
Read’s top three issues include the economy, the pending national banking crisis and state and federal relationships.
“An increase in private business means an increase in revenues,” Read said. “I introduced a banking bill that would have limited Montana’s exposure to this coming crises, “but it did not pass in the Senate.
In terms of state and federal relationship and regulations, Read said he believes the federal government has changed rules that disenfranchises private industries. He also said the state fails to challenge federal mandates, so Montana can regulate its own commerce.
“My background makes me the best “fit” for representing this diverse house district. I received votes from both sides of the divide to win this seat. Not just the Mission Valley,” Read said. “To quote Rosa Parks, ‘Enough is enough’ and I Joe Read am willing to take a stand for what is right, not what is easy.”
Calf Boss Ribs is running for legislature because said she is a strong voice for the people.
Calf Boss Ribs, 57, was born and raised in Montana and said she is proud to call it home. She has been a teacher in Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation for 28 years, dedicating her life to being an educator, mother and grandmother.
“I want to bring my experience as a teacher, community leader, and parent to Helena so that our district is well-represented,” Calf Boss Ribs said.
She was a state legislator in 2009 and said she knows what it takes to be a good legislator.
“I have experience as a legislator and a teacher who has dedicated her life to children,” Calf Boss Ribs said.
Her top three issues include ensuring great schools for kids, good jobs and providing a strong voice in Helena.
“Great schools need great teachers and staff, and enough funding to provide the services our kids need. I will fight for better funding for schools,” Calf Boss Ribs said. “ (To provide) good jobs so that our people can support their families. Good jobs are jobs that pay a live able wage. I will defend the minimum wage, and speak up for economic development on our reservations and in our communities.”
Calf Boss Ribs said in the last election many people did not vote and she wants to change this year’s turnout.
Jason Smith, 36, has lived in the Mission Valley on and off all his life. Smith is a graduate of Polson High School and Salish Kootenai College. He has been living in Helena the past three years.
“I feel my extensive broad experience sets me apart from other candidates. I worked in the private and public sector with S&K Electronics and the Montana Department of Commerce gaining economic development experience,” Smith said. “I have worked for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes as the Chairman Chief of Staff and the Montana State Legislature in the House of Representatives as staff to the Democratic and specifically the Montana American Indian Caucus.”
Smith said he running to make a difference for the communities in House District 15. “I believe economic development should be a priority for our state, tribal, county, and other local governments,” Smith said.
He pointed to Montana Department of Labor statistics as an example, which cites that the unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, an indicator Smith said that our economy is getting better.
“But we still have more work to create employment opportunities. The unemployment rates on reservations are historically at a higher rate than the national and state rate,” Smith explained. “I will advocate for policies to create jobs, gain access to capital, and business tax incentives.”
He also plans to support education by advocating for affordable college, quality public school system, and supporting teachers through job training and workforce development.
“I want to make ensure we live up to our responsibilities to our seniors and veterans by providing access to care and housing,” Smith said. “I will work to continue improving the state, tribal, county, and local government relations because we will need to collaborate due to our national economic and budget issues.” Smith is currently on unpaid leave from the Montana Department of Commerce with the State Tribal Economic Development Program enhancing economic development on reservations.
“It is your right to learn about your candidates and express your concerns this election,” Smith said.
Since Calf Boss Ribs has already served one term in the legislature, Calf Boss Ribs has three more terms in the House before she is termed out.
“People like me, people who care about our people and their well-being, lost our elections. We can’t let that happen again. This election matters,” Calf Boss Ribs said. “I am asking that all residents of House District 15 vote. It matters who wins the primary.”