Candidate Forum: The State Candidates

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Candidates at the Candidate Forum in Red Lodge (left to right) Matt Wald, Seth Berglee, David Howard, (Joel Todd, moderator), Betsy Scanlin, Anna Drew, Ray Kuntz.

The first of a few Forums in the area was held on Friday evening, Sept. 28, at the Beartooth Elks in Red Lodge from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This was a major session involving candidates for the Montana State Senate, State House,  District Court Judge and Carbon County Commissioner. Over 90 attended. 

Red Lodge City Council member Glory Mahan and Warene Wall of Red Lodge, composed the questions while Joel Todd moderated. No public questions were taken as part of the Forum.

David Howard and former Red Lodge Mayor Betsy Scanlin are running for State Senator; Seth Berglee and Anna Drew for State Representative. 

Howard, from Park City, said he’s represented Montanans for three sessions in the House and one in the Senate. He called the current environment “very frustrating.” He proposed, “I support not doing Medicaid. An example is providing Medicaid to people not injured. There’s nothing physically wrong with them.”  It affects over 91,000 Montanans and costs $120 million over two years. Howard said Medicaid already “has no budget, $600 million, that’s a lot of money.” If you can’t pay it, “property taxes are going to go up…we are $4 billion in debt.”

 Scanlin said the last couple of legislative sessions “affected everyone in our rural community.” She spoke of cuts to school funding coming back as higher property taxes and they could have avoided cuts like social services. Those seeking economic assistance now have to go to Billings and 40 disabled adults now have a case manager in Great Falls.  

Scanlin said, “Healthcare is just one element of governing that David and I strongly disagree on. Health care is essentially a right. If you don’t provide it at the basic level, you’re going to see increases” in ER visits, increasing your premiums. She said the answer to the dilemma is to consider it a priority. She supports I-185 which puts a tax on cigarettes and vaping, both activities that increase diseases. "We can fund Medicaid; we can find the funding for it. It will reduce future costs. Regarding infrastructure, she said you have to maintain the structure you have." Using a combination of means she would raise funds with the general fund, bonds, user fees at state parks, creating jobs and investor opportunities: public/private partnerships.

Howard said having served on the Appropriations Committee, he sees what a budget really is. Current bonds “not only include roads but buildings, museums, colleges-all kinds of things they throw in there, not a good thing for us.” He doubts we can do a better job. “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” There simply isn’t enough money for health services.

Scanlin said regarding mental health, “I think we can do it. It’s a big issue in schools with no access to counseling. We have to catch it early on. More funds are in, revenues are up, but mental health-no where. We need to make that a priority.” The school cuts and social services are part of a pattern of the legislature. Education must be a priority for the state’s future. 

Howard said global warming was “not very well founded” with Montana having “5,000 years of coal.” Scanlin believes we have to address disasters and become accountable. We need to “respect science.” She is proud of local recycling efforts. 

Drew said, as a born and raised Montanan, “When you see a problem you need to get up and try to fix it.” The brown water in Red Lodge reflects water issues statewide. She said, “Our legislature is not working hard enough.” They last passed a state infrastructure bill in 2007.

Berglee said he is also a Montanan, living on the family ranch when his father had health issues and he and his brothers had to move to Billings where he graduated, then went on to MSU. People should “keep what you earn, have upward mobility."

Regarding sanctuary cities, Drew replied that she’d rather talk about what concerns Montanans, “well-paying jobs, cybersecurity, small business concerns…Our legislature needs incentives for small businesses to compete with out of state.”

Berglee said without the rule of law there is chaos. He is for the development of coal and natural gas as opposed to alternative energy. They did pass an infrastructure bill for areas that had oil, in 2013, but the governor vetoed it. “In reality, in Montana and Wyoming there’s some of the cleanest coal. I’m all for solar and wind but it shouldn’t be subsidized.”

Drew said she comes from a long line of miners and links to Butte. She believes in environmental regulation and a free market solution. The reality is that the coal industry “is dwindling, not increasing.” She said, “Young people are concerned about the environment. Montana is aging.” To keep Montana’s young people, “They have to start motivating, build something new, something better.” 

Privatizing public lands, said Berglee, is, “Very political. A segment of Republicans want to sell it off, maybe a couple of people…the vast majority would be opposed. We need to manage them better. We need a seat at the table.”

Drew disagreed. “Public lands are very important. Tourists are here to see our public lands. If we don’t’ have them, they won’t come. Also, for school funding. I disagree in the concept of management of our public lands with Montana in a budget crisis. To put more burden on Montana seems like a hard order for now.”

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Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, December 21, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, December 24, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - 9:30am
    Open 2nd and 4th Wednesday 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. 206 N ‘D’ Street. More info 662-1060.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.