Tom Weaver, known to many around Red Lodge as “Walking” Tom, is throwing his beret into the ring for this coming Nov. 5 mayoral election in Red Lodge.
Weaver is a write-in candidate and opted to enter his name after he was persuaded by many storeowners to run.
“It was by request from a lot of people,” said Weaver. “As I walk around town I get the ear of a lot of people. Some of the business owners outside town feel they have no voice. I listen and they feel left out of the (City’s) decision-making. They complain that the councilmen don’t come in to their stores that often either.”
Weaver was born and raised in Red Lodge, his grandfather homesteaded here in 1883. He also served in the US Navy from 1960-64, before entering the heavy equipment industry, building roads and highways.
“I’ve seen Red Lodge go from mining, agriculture and now to a destination town and that is where the town needs to put its assets, to bring more people in and more festivals,” he said. “People worry about the gangs that come for the Beartooth Bike Rally. They (bikers) are more well behaved than most of them.”
Although he is pro-business and growth he doesn’t want the Wal-Marts moving into Red Lodge but does lean towards having a few more drive-thru’s.
“There are only a couple of places for breakfast and when the town’s full there is no place to eat. I wants to see a growth in motels and little small shops here and there,” Weaver said.
Regarding resort tax money, Weaver would like to see it used more for advertising but on a radical note, he doesn’t see a need to advertise in Montana.
“I don’t think there is a person in Montana who doesn’t know where Red Lodge is. We need to go east and probably west, Seattle, Portland and into Canada, and make Red Lodge a complete destination,” he said.
“We need a good master plan and to get money somewhere, ask for grants for infrastructure and to maintain roads,” he said. “We can still maintain the town’s ambiance but need to grow, if we don’t, we’ll stagnate and become a retirement area.”
“I have a feel for what the city businesses want. Right now another biggest complaint is our police department. Storeowners don’t know who they are, they want them to stop by and say ‘hello.’
They want them to walk their beat and want to have confidence in calling them. In small towns if there is no confidence in calling the peace officers, people won’t call them,” he said.
Another complaint that Weaver hears is about the incoming roundabouts. He’d prefer to see a blinking amber and red light installed.