Larson wants a tidier and efficient form of government

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor
Mayoral Candidate of Red Lodge Bill Larson

Bill Larson is no stranger to creating and managing success. Having run several businesses in Billings, including starting up Rocky Mountain Compressor that spread across 5 states, he knows a thing or two about putting the pieces together much like his campaign poster for this year’s Red Lodge Mayoral race.
The poster depicts a jigsaw puzzle with one piece coming in to complete the picture.
“The puzzle is about solving issues. I fit into the puzzle,” said Larson.
“This race is an opportunity to walk the wards and that is what I’m about; talking to people about issues facing the city and the remedies and how do people feel about that. A lot of them aren’t happy but if you explain the issue, that is very important and that is what I am going to bring to both people and business owners,” said Larson.
He is an advocate for the open door policy and expects to be rooted to city hall during his tenure.
“That is what I’m about. If you have an issue, I’ll be in city hall, available, come in and talk and if I don’t know the answer then let’s go and find the department head that does. The problem is things don’t get answered, and they snow ball and they end up on Facebook,” he said. “I’m not afraid of Facebook, I will answer questions just to keep that rumor mill down.”
“Running a town is about providing services to the community. I ran service-orientated businesses. I lead by example and that is all I expect from my people. In my businesses I kept those people a long time, and we were dealing with people from long distances. You have to keep them happy and they saw how I worked and followed,” said Larson.
Larson wants to give the department heads the direction they need to aim for and let them know he’s there if they need advice.
“I won’t tell them what to do. They are all very well qualified,” he said.
This brings him to another point concerning recognition.
“The people who work for the city are very dedicated, but have gone unrecognized. They need to get a birthday card from the City, they need to get a 10 year pin, a dinner at a steak house on us. Nobody knows who they are. They need to be (recognized) in the paper,” said Larson.
Larson wants to tidy up Red Lodge and to make sense of the plethora of projects that are out there.
He wants to work on the CIP, Capital Improvement Program, and get the infrastructure back into place.
“People are bothered by the road conditions. We can’t do anything on the roads until the underneath is fixed. In talking to Public Works, the water lines are in fairly good shape. The Haggin’ area needs to be completed and there are still sewer issues,” he said.
Larson would also like to carry on with the concept of community policing with officers walking through the community, maybe even cycling, and taking the time to talk to people and business owners.
“It will gain that bit of trust. It’s the people in the community that are the eyes and ears for them,” said Larson.
He’d also like to see the police uniforms toned down.
“Even I feel the big outfits are a little intimidating,” he said, referring to the bulletproof jackets and armory that officers are wearing.
He has regarded other aspects of local policing like 24/7 coverage that, he feels, should be decided by a Public Safety Mill Levy vote. He isn’t a fan of the K-9 program but feels in the present case that K-9 Police Officer Maleri Cates should be allowed to keep the dog.
“Let’s figure out a way to give her the dog and save a good officer,” said Larson who was also involved with the emergency services as a Billings firefighter for 27 years.
He would like to see the City speed up the process for hiring a new Police Chief.
“It is over 18 months since we had a police chief. It is not fair to the department or the community. Someone needs to make a decision, or start that long process now,” he said.
He wants to see movement on renewing the Resort Tax that ends in 2022 and to see it voted on at least by 2020.
Business tax incentive is another area he is strongly supportive of and wants to find a way to encourage businesses to come in and for older ones to expand.
“I go down Broadway and see vacant areas. We need incentives for people. I’ve been to meetings to see how other towns encourage business owners to move in,” said Larson. “It is tax incentives.”
He has nothing but praise for the Community Development Director Peter Italiano. “He does a great job and he will try to do as much as he can to help the public. I see myself working with him. He has nothing but the best interests of the community,” he said.
The City, said Larson, has a long-range plan for N. Hauser and believes that if it continues to the Beartooth Billings Clinic Hospital it might give a business a chance to start up or expand.
Larson feels the City need to be “more friendly” towards businesses and needs to work with them.
“Let's not say ‘no’ to them. Tell them ‘What can we do to make this happen?" he said. "(Take) a business affected by zoning issues. Some times all you need is a variance.”
He commended the Public Works Department for helping answer people’s questions about where to take their tree branches after being damaged by the recent snowstorm.
“It gives you a solution to what you’ve got,” said Larson. “We need to find out what the departments are working on, and provide the information to the public.”
“I’m definitely into getting the business done,” said Larson.
Larson won the Ward 2 council position in 2012 and retained the position in 2014.
He and his wife, Diane, retired to Red Lodge in 2005 and love to ski, golf, hike and enjoy the walkability of the town.
Larson is planning to carry on with his Meet and Greets events with the next at the Phoenix Pearl Tea Tavern, Oct. 6 from 4 p.m.– 6 p.m.
The Mayoral race will be a mail out ballot starting Oct. 18. All returns must be at Carbon County Office in Red Lodge by 8 p.m. Nov. 7.

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Upcoming Events

  • Monday, July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 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, July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 26, 2019 - 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, July 29, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

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