House District 12 race draws 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat
In the June 8 primary, candidates Dan Salomon and John Swenson face off for the Republicans, while incumbent John Fleming remains the sole Democrat running for the Montana House of Representatives District 12.
Salomon is 53 years old and resides west of Pablo. He has been married for 30 years to Janey and has three daughters. He graduated from Ronan High School in 1975 and Montana State University in 1979. He is self-employed as a dairyman and farmer. He participates in various community organizations including the Mission Valley Future Farmers of America Alumni Organization, the Farm Credit Service and other state and local dairy organizations. Salomon belongs to the Ronan Rural Fire Board, Lake County Weed Board and recently retired from the Ronan School Board.
Fleming is 63 years old, has been married for 36 years to his wife Linda, and has three sons. Fleming is a lifetime resident of Mission Valley and has taught in the St. Ignatius school district for 36 years.
Fleming has a Bachelors of Arts in Business from Carroll College and a Masters of Education from the University of Montana.
A U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, Fleming has also worked as a rancher and a farmer.
Fleming has served in the House of Representatives since 2009 and has been assigned to the Business and Labor Committee, the Agriculture Committee, the Economic Committee, the Development Advisory Committee, and the Education and Local Government Interim Committee.
Fleming is also a member of the St. Ignatius Rural Fire Board, the Lake County Planning Board, the Montana Traffic Education Association and has held leadership positions in local and state educational organizations.
Both Fleming and Salomon believe that budget and jobs are two of the top issues facing the Montana legislature this year.
Salomon supports cutting state spending and would like to see expenses for the whole budget accounted for, instead of just new expenses.
“The state government has grown by over 1,000 employees over the last six years,” Salomon said. “Overall the state budget has gone up approximately 45 percent. It's fairly simple either our taxes go up or government spending comes down.”
Fleming also believes that the state government should tighten government spending, comparing managing the state budget to that of a household.
“We must manage taxpayer money the same way hard-working Montanans handle their household finances,” Fleming said. “We must insist that it is constantly made to be more efficient and required to do more with less.”
Both Fleming and Salomon believe that the promotion of jobs and economic growth are fundamental issues in the state of Montana. Salomon believes that a more favorable business climate will lead to the promotion of jobs within the state.
“Eliminating the business equipment tax and reforming workman's compensation to control cost and limit fraud, help both large and especially small businesses,” Salomon said.
Fleming believes that promoting the expansion and diversification of small businesses is a key ingredient to creating jobs in Montana.
“At the same time, government should promote jobs in new technologies, as well as traditional industries,” Fleming added.
Fleming also believes that Montana has the potential to lead the United States in the clean and renewable resource industry. This industry also has the potential to supply new jobs to Montana's residents.
Both candidates touched upon environmental issues. Fleming believes it's crucial that Montana preserve its outdoor heritage. He said that the Stream Access Law passed in the 2009 legislature serves as a model for resolving conflict as “divergent interest groups” were brought together to solve a difficult problem.
“As hunters and fishermen, my neighbors and I insist on clean places to hunt, fish and camp,” Fleming said.
Salomon believes that the best environmentalists in Montana are the citizens who manage the land, such as farmers, ranchers, and loggers.
“These are the people who actually utilize and revere the land,” Salomon said. “If these folks don't do a god job utilizing and caring for the land, they will have nothing. I believe this is called a vested interest.”
Since Montana was built upon agriculture and natural resource development, sustainable and environmentally responsible development of natural resources is a key to economic growth, Salomon said.
“Inclusive utilization of wind, coal, solar, oil, biodiesel, natural gas, biomass and hydroelectric energy is a sound energy policy for affordable power rates,” Salomon said.
Salomon also believes in the protection of the individual's rights by adhering closely to the constitution of Montana and the United States. He noted that the federal government is trying to force issues on the states - such as health care, education and immigration.
“(These) are issues that should be regulated at the state and local levels and not mandated by the federal system,” Salomon said.
Comments from Swenson were not available by press time.