Election mail bag Nov. 5

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Importance of voting

Our democratic society is based on an informed citizenry that votes. Earlier this week I was speaking with a young man in his early 30s and asked if he planned to vote next Tuesday. He did not know if he would. I pointed out that by not voting, he was in fact voting, but letting someone else do it for him. Looking at it this way clearly caught his attention and made him think more seriously about casting his vote. He did have preferences about the candidates and as we spoke further, he seemed to understand the importance of voting.

As we ended our conversation, I again encouraged him to be sure to vote and tell all his friends to do so as well. There is little more sacred or or important in the United States then saying what you believe in through your vote. Please do make sure that everyone votes. If you do not, then those who do will be speaking for you.

—David Feffer, Bigfork

Commissioner campaign thanks

As the campaigns wind down, I want to thank everyone who helped on my commissioner campaign. Indeed we live in a wonderful, special place.

We start working hard tomorrow to remove all our campaign signs. If you see one that we missed, please call and we’ll pick it up.

— Randy Brodehl

Not good for Montana’s families

Know anyone with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, heart problems or a litany of other ailments or injuries? I do.

Terry retired early due to increasing hip pain. A year later, he needed a hip replacement. At 22, Clayton was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Without an expensive biologic medicine, he’d be disabled in five years. In Dec. 2013, Gary got cancer. He needed lifesaving surgery but was denied health coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

All these men had preexisting conditions. But thanks to the PPACA, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), they were able to get health insurance and receive the medical treatments they needed.

As insurance commissioner, Rosendale supports policies that’ll increase prescription costs, kick 94,000 families off healthcare, and allow insurance companies to discriminate against 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions. He opposed CHIP, which provides healthcare for 24,000 Montana kids and 17 health clinics serving 100,000 Montanans.

Rosendale says healthcare costs are too high. Nobody disputes that. Yet he allowed a 23 percent rate hike. Now he says the way to save money is to remove the life-saving patient protections of the PPACA? Such hypocrisy!

Terry is back at work. Clayton got his MSW and works in mental health. Gary is alive and sings in his church choir. They’re my husband, my son, my brother. My family’s story could easily be yours.

Putting money over people might work in Maryland, Matt, but not in Montana.

— Deborah Epperson, Kalispell

Decker has proven leadership

This year’s Lake County Commissioner’s race is the most critical that voters have faced in decades as the Salish Kootenai Tribe is trying to take control of the Lake County Commissioner’s office. When the Tribe removed their hydroelectric dam from the tax rolls the commissioners sued regarding this and many other partials of Tribal property which they believed should be taxed but were not. $2.2 million are being lost each year that increases the taxes (and housing rental costs) for all residents of Lake County including Tribal and non-Tribal members. This problem has been ongoing for decades. Since 1983 nearly $67 million in property valuation has been removed from the tax rolls.

Carolyn McDonald is the Tribe’s Manchurian candidate. Her husband is the Tribe’s Public Relations Director. He is a Tribal member but she is not. If elected, I believe she will divulge confidential litigation strategy to the Tribe and work to withdraw the lawsuit thus potentially saving the Tribe tens of millions of dollars. Remember, this Tribe is a privately held multi-national corporation worth billions of dollars.

Incumbent Commissioner Gale Decker has proven his leadership abilities in many ways but most recently by bringing Tribal, County, City, state agencies, and mental health providers together to approve, fund, build, and staff a 24/7 in-patient mental health facility to save money by not transporting patients to Warm Springs State Hospital. This facility keeps patients local where they can benefit from family support. It also showed that when a project is in the Tribe’s interest they will support it.

Your vote for Gale Decker for County Commissioner is a vote to keep the Tribe from taking over the government of Lake County and raising taxes (and/or rent) on Lake County residents.

—Norman W. Johnson, Polson

Beef with Tester

I begin this Op-Ed with full disclosure that Sen. Jon Tester no longer considers me his friend and refers to me and my kind as fringe environmental extremists. So be it.

I want to thank Jon Tester for being the only farmer in the U.S. Senate and most likely a user of toxic insecticides/pesticides that are cancer causing in humans and other animals. As a consumer of farm grown foods in America, I look forward to an early demise.

I would assume farmer Jon might also raise farm animals for slaughter and human consumption of red meat, well-known as a carcinogen in people. I gave up eating red meat over 20 years ago, so maybe I will survive it? Thanks, anyway, Senator.

My real beef with Jon Tester is his lack of compassion for wildlife and the Endangered Species Act that was passed by a Republican president (Richard Nixon) in order to protect them from hunters and trappers who would kill them at will. Of course, Tester is a DINO (Democrat in Name Only) who runs as a Democrat rather than the moderate Republican he really is due to his inability to win a Republican primary election because he is not conservative enough. Cleverly, he wins Democratic votes (a “D” next to his name), some independent votes (a “D” is the lesser of two evils), and moderate Republican votes (they know one when they see one.) That is his winning strategy to get elected in Montana. You can fool most of the people all of the time.

Not liking animals is no liability to Tester since they cannot vote anyway. Much better to concentrate on humans who do vote in his quest for jobs for them mining Montana’s “dirty” coal and his support for the routing of the Canada tar sands toxic, highly flammable/explosive, oil pipeline through Montana. Thanks, Jon, for the extreme danger of pipeline leakage into Montana’s environment. And, more thanks for ruining the environment with global warming from burning petroleum fossil fuel products in order to make bad people like me go extinct. Of course, you and your progeny will too. Duh.

Needless to say, I am not going to vote for Jon Tester again as the lesser of two evils in his re-election efforts for the U.S. Senate from Montana this November. I hope you don’t either.

—Bill Baum, Badrock

PSC needs Andy Shirtliff

Montana has the opportunity to elect an outstanding man, Andy Shirtliff, to the Montana Public Service Commission on November 6th. Andy has traveled all over our great state during his five years as the Small Business Advocate for the State of Montana. During this time he worked with Montanans from all walks of life; learning what was important to them, their priorities, and how to help them succeed in our economy. He will continue to serve Montanans as our next Public Service Commissioner. He will fight for better jobs, higher wages and fairer bills for working Montana families and small businesses. Andy will bring innovative ideas to the table regarding our energy’s future in Montana. He will focus on diversity, transparency and how we can benefit from working together.

Andy will bring a fresh perspective, new integrity, and much needed energy to the PSC. He will be a commissioner that will always welcome questions, concerns and new ideas. Most importantly Andy will always remember why he was elected and who he represents; us, the people of Montana.

Vote Andy Shirtliff For Public Service Commission. The PSC Needs Andy!!!!

—Sharon Dinstel, Park City

‘We the people’ still matters

We’re swamped with ads trying to frighten us into voting against Initiatives 185 and 186.

The ads sound like they’re from “Montanans.” But who’s really paying for them?

Ballotpedia reveals that the money attacking I-185 comes from the tobacco industry, plain and simple. 97 percent of opposition funding has been provided by Altria, the manufacturer of Marlboro. The people in their ads decided to throw away their reputations by shilling for Big Tobacco against an initiative that will provide decent health care for vets and the poor.

In the case of I-186, over 90 percent of the attack ad money has been provided by the Montana Mining Association.The ads hide the fact that I-186 doesn’t apply to existing mines and doesn’t threaten any existing jobs. The law only applies to future mines, and doesn’t prevent mining. It only outlaws those mines that would require permanent, perpetual treatment to protect Montana waters. It says simply: we don’t want another Berkeley Pit, the disaster in Butte that will require 24/7 treatment for eternity.

We need to show that “we the people” still matters in Montana. Please vote for decent health care and clean water. Vote “yes” on I-185 and I-186.

—Thompson Smith, Charlo

A simple straightforward question

In January of 2018, Sen. Jon Tester visited my son’s high school for an assembly. It was going to be an open question-and-answer format. The night before the assembly my son asked me, “Dad what question should I ask Jon Tester.” I thought for a moment and then got out a 3x5 card and wrote out the question, “where and when in the history of human civilization has there ever been a Socialist nation have longevity and prosperity?” A great question for a Socialist (aka Democrat).

The next day at the assembly my son asked that question. Fathom the cowardliness of a U.S. senator who responded, “I don’t know, what do you think?” He actually knows the answer to that question, which is why he was afraid to answer it. Any informed individual knows that there has never been a Socialist nation have longevity and prosperity. Tester knew he had no reasonable response because there has NEVER been a Socialist nation have prosperity and certainly not longevity.

More incredulous is the fact that several faculty members at the high school mocked my son for asking that question. If Jon Tester cannot answer a simple straightforward question from a high school student, how will he ever be able to handle the tough questions from the American people who want straight answers to tough questions.

—Shane Hill, Kalispell

Shirtliff the real deal

As a business owner, I have more than just the price to consider when doing business with someone. What I look for in a person or company, is if they are reliable, honest, hard working, and I always appreciate when they will go the extra mile for me.

Those are the same qualities I look for in a candidate, especially one running for a position on the Montana Public Service Commission; a five-person commission that sets our electric, water, and sewer rates.

We’re lucky to call Whitefish home. However, currently, the water rates in Whitefish are the highest in the state, with little known as to the reason why, or relief from the bills. These unfair rates are hurting families as much as they are hurting our businesses and affecting our ability to start, grow, and attract jobs and businesses.

I am voting for Andy Shirtliff because he fights for us, he is reliable, honest, hardworking, and will always go that extra mile for Montana. I know Andy personally and would be proud to have him represent our interests.

When it comes to all the negative things about politics, Andy is a breath of fresh air. He’s the real deal. I’ll vote for him today for the Montana Public Service Commission, as I will in the future when he hopefully will run for Congress. I invite you to join me and vote for Andy Shirtliff.

—Gail Goodwin, Whitefish

Tester stands up for veterans

President Trump and political ads continue to attack Senator Jon Tester, claiming he falsely slandered Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson when he was nominated to head the Veterans Administration. Jackson’s appointment surprised many because he had no experience running an organization as large as the VA with 370,000 employees and a $180 billion budget, not to mention the health system problems. The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee received allegations of improper behavior by Jackson from 23 retired and active service military. Senator Tester, doing his job as ranking member on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, brought forth those allegations and he and Committee Chair Republican Johnny Isakson asked the White House for more information. Isakson said he had no problem with Tester’s handling and no member of the Committee, Republican or Democrat, stood up for Jackson. Jackson protested his innocence but withdrew his nomination.

Since then Jackson is still on White House staff but no longer the President’s personal physician. The Pentagon’s Inspector General opened an investigation in June into Jackson’s behavior. If Jackson was innocent, why is the investigation still ongoing? Tester voted to approve subsequent VA nominee Robert Wilkie. And Trump recently admitted Jackson “might not have been qualified”. Senator Tester was doing his job standing up for veterans.

—Jim Vashro, Kalispell

Concerned caregiver

As a senior citizen and concerned caregiver, I feel we must cast our vote to keep funds from being cut or canceled for Montanans who need them most. Things like home-based caregiving and Medicaid-funded services for our Veterans are important. The funds for our seniors and wages for their caregivers must

not continue to be diminished. More seniors and vets need care, not less.

I-185 will help fund these needed services. By voting yes, we will help continue to care for Montanans’ long-term care, veterans’ mental health and suicide prevention, programs to help people quit tobacco and the children and seniors and others who receive their healthcare via Medicaid-funded programs.

Many seniors who need the benefit of caregiving at home are being denied hours to facilitate their needs. And when they don’t get the care they need, caregivers wages are also reduced. The cycle is a terrible one for everybody. Caregivers can’t make a living, and seniors can’t get the care they need.

Many times, women and others are forced to sell their homes, lose their independence enter facilities or other ways of getting care when it not their first choice to do so. Our seniors, veterans, folks with disabilities and children need us. I urge you to vote yes on Nov. 6 on I-185.

—Debra Bashaw-Pelsma, Troy

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