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Local representatives vying for seats November 8

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With the primary election less than three weeks away, the presidential race can’t overshadow the contests for state government. The following is a recap of individuals running for seats in Montana government.

Senate District 6

Either Rolf Harmsen–D of Polson or Albert Olszewski– R of Kalispell will fill the seat being vacated by incumbent Janna Taylor.

Harmsen owns his own insurance business, and is pro-business and pro-life. The most important state and local issue for Harmsen is dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, and he wants to see a functional treatment facility in Lake County.

Harmsen believes the state’s dependence on coal and fossil fuels is not sustainable and that Montana must build on alternative energy.

Olszewski currently serves in House District 11, elected in 2014. He is an orthopedic surgeon who is in favor of repealing and replacing Obamacare, keeping curriculum locally-directed and not giving away Montana’s water rights. Olszewski believes that the most important local issue is the inabilities of counties and cities to adequately fund their budgets while funding infrastructure projects at the state level.

Senate District 47

Contending for a seat in Senate District 47, a newly- formed district that runs south from Reservoir Road in Polson to the railroad tracks in Missoula, are House District 93 incumbent Dan Salomon and Tom France.

Salomon, 59, was born and raised in the Flathead Valley. Salomon was elected five times to the Ronan School Board and has served three terms in the Montana House of Representatives. He believes the most important local issue is Public Law 280, funding for the county.

France works as the regional director for the National Wildlife Foundation, and said balancing the budget will be an issue given the expected decrease in energy-related tax revenues. Providing adequate funding for public education and protecting Montana’s public lands and keeping public lands in public hands is important to France.

House District 12

Incumbent Greg Hertz–R, currently serving as the Majority Whip, is running against Susan Evans–D. Both candidates live in Polson.

As president and owner of Moody’s Market Inc., operating grocery stores throughout western Montana, Hertz brings 35 years of business experience to the position and has worked within the Montana House of Representatives since 2013. Hertz believes that the most important local issue is the reduction of an estimated $4.2 million in tax dollars to Lake County. He is also concerned the creation of high-wage jobs, and with Public Law 280, an agreement between CSKT, the State and Federal government that requires the county to prosecute felonies committed by Tribal members.

Evans is a small business owner who would like to see tax breaks for homeowners, improved infrastructure, and would support a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Evans is in favor of accepting federal dollars to expand Medicare, which she said would also create more jobs in the healthcare industry.

House District 93

Johanna Clark–R lives in Hot Springs, grew up in Montana, and is currently the executive manager for the Flathead Joint Board of Control. As a rancher and third-generation veteran of the U.S. Army, Clark says her experience comes from hard work, and she hopes to make a difference. She feels the current government has made it difficult for those making a living in agriculture and that people’s rights are diminishing.

John Fleming –D, a retired educator and Ronan High School graduate, was born and raised in the Mission Valley and currently owns a small ranch. Fleming has spent time knocking on neighbors’ doors to find out what is important to the voters. He hopes to address state funding in the legislature to help solve overcrowded jails, and believes the technology needed to use coal cleanly can be complemented by wind and solar energy sources.

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