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  Comments (2) Total Monday Apr. 21, 2014
House District 3 Race a Repeat of 2010
Same three candidates running, with Democrat Perry looking to close the gap on incumbent Republican O’Neil
Jerry O'Neal, Zac Perry and Shawn Guymon from left to right | Contributed photos
In a repeat of the 2010 House District 3 race, Democrat Zac Perry and Libertarian Shawn Guymon are trying to unseat incumbent Republican Jerry O’Neil.

Running on a platform of reduced government, the libertarian-minded O’Neil garnered 52 percent of the vote in 2010 to Perry’s 39 percent and Guymon’s 9 percent. O’Neil, a 69-year-old paralegal from Columbia Falls, had previously served two terms in the Senate, first elected in 2000 and again in 2004.

House District 3 encompasses Columbia Falls, Bad Rock Canyon, the North Fork and West Glacier. Since redistricting established the district in 2003, Republicans have held the seat each election except for 2006 when Democrat Douglas Cordier defeated Republican Dee Brown.

Cordier chose not to run in 2008 and Brown defeated Democrat Mick Holm. Brown could not run again in 2010 because of term limits and this year is running for Senate District 2.

O’Neil’s name recognition and decade in the Legislature make him the frontrunner, though Perry mounted a challenge in 2010 and is now hoping to tip the scales back into Democrats’ favor for the first time since Cordier.

Perry, a 34-year-old Martin City native who manages his family’s vacation rental business, said he “put so much work into the first campaign and now I’m building on that foundation.”

“The first time you run, you’re still introducing yourself for the first time – I think there’s a trust barrier and you don’t have the name recognition,” Perry said. “But the second time around, they recognize your name – they may have read one of your letters to the editor – and a trust has been established.”

O’Neil is sticking to the formula that has worked for him in past elections: promoting deeply conservative values of reduced government, state sovereignty and personal liberties.

“I still believe in smaller government and more freedoms and people helping other people without having to get too many permits from the government,” O’Neil said.

Guymon, 50, who also ran for justice of the peace in 2006, is an advocate of sweeping reform in the state’s workers’ compensation laws. He says he was injured on a past job and is disabled today.

In general, Guymon believes government no longer properly represents its citizens, arguing that “unscrupulous unaccountability” is rampant among elected officials.

“They have now made themselves the sovereign authority over the people instead of the servants of the people,” he said.

Though there are three different parties on the ballot, Perry thinks the party doesn’t matter nearly as much as the candidate this election.

“I’ve found that a lot of people are looking at who you are as opposed to what party you’re running under,” he said. “That’s refreshing to me. I’m running as Zac Perry. People are so fed up at with the polarization.”

House District 3 candidates were asked the following five questions:

1. What can the Legislature do to spur economic recovery and job growth?
2. How should the Legislature address the state government worker pension shortfall, which is projected to exceed $3 billion over the next 30 years?
3. The U.S. Supreme Court gave states the choice of whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. What should Montana do and why?
4. Given that the state is projected to have a surplus, what should be the Legislature’s budgetary priorities during the next session?
5. What are the other most pressing issues facing the Legislature and why?


Name: Shawn Guymon
Age: 50
Party: Libertarian
Bio: Disabled former owner of Classy Cabs taxi service; veteran; fourth-generation Montanan born in Whitefish; education at Flathead Valley Community College and University of Montana
Years in the valley: 50

1. The halls of justice are only open to special-interest groups and sometimes the individuals they represent today. The reason: money and power open the doors. They do take full advantage at every opportunity. “The people” seeking only justice when it is absolutely necessary are barred and/or discouraged by the daunting task of trying to figure out the processes and procedures in a futile attempt to gain access, only to have an administrator sit on their case until hell freezes over. Divisive tort reform will only hurt “the people” and bring more “social injustice.” The Legislature must address all three of these issues in order to ever spur economic recovery and job growth.

2. If the first question is answered justly and properly, there should not be any shortfall. However, in the process of ensuring state worker pensions are fulfilled we all must begin to curtail any aggressive expansion of collective bargaining in order to have pensions and prosperity in the future.

3. Article 10 of the Bill of Rights must be measured against this behemoth juggernaut called the Affordable Care Act. The state must do everything in its power not to allow Medicaid to be swallowed up by the federal government. Medicaid has always been a state-run program and must remain.

4. Keep going into the black with smart decisions to strengthen all of Montana: a) reestablish a cap on property taxes; b) make the “fair tax” a reality; c) mill levy reform that’s fair and equitable; d) a self-supporting prison system; e) cut back on consecutive government raises; f) install “proven” educational programs that work to enhance greater learning and aptitude for the generations ahead; and g) mostly amend/repeal laws that are proven to be detrimental and unconstitutional for the people.

5. The biggest pressing concern is the unscrupulous unaccountability of elected officials and how they’ve made themselves the sovereign authority over the people instead of being the servants to the people. This is our state, our cities, our towns, our lakes, our rivers, our stream, our mountains, our forests, our plains, our lands, our property.

Name: Zac Perry
Age: 34
Party: Democrat
Bio: Manages the family business (a vacation rental); works for his best friend and treasurer O’Brien Byrd at the local liquor store; a substitute teacher at Columbia Falls High School, junior high and elementary schools; 1996 Columbia Falls High School graduate; 2001 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor of arts degree in government and international relations
Years in the valley: 34
Campaign website: zacperry4hd3.wordpress.com

1. The state of Montana should play a responsible role in economic development. A primary hurdle for small business startups is the availability of capital. Loans and grants through the Department of Commerce can have a major impact on getting strong viable business plans into motion. I don’t believe government at the state or local level needs to be overly involved in business creation. However, the state can help give a positive push like helping entrepreneurs access loans so they can start a business and, as a result, create quality jobs. A prime example of encouraging economic development can be seen in Columbia Falls.

Renewable energy incentives rewarded to Flathead Electric Cooperative helped facilitate an historic power agreement with F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company. As a result of these incentives, Stoltze can create and sustain jobs. At the same time, alternative energy takes a step forward and forest health is prioritized.

I believe we can strengthen our economy and create jobs by cutting taxes and making responsible investments, and above all by recognizing that Montana’s land and people are our best assets. Let’s get rid of the equipment tax entirely for businesses that generate less than $500,000 in revenue. This will help free up capital that will result in new jobs and investment in infrastructure. By investing in infrastructure, we can make sure Montana doesn’t get passed over for job-creating investments.

2. A number of ideas are currently circulating as to how we address this shortfall, from increased contributions by employers and employees to the use of a portion of the budget surplus. Through a collaborative effort, I am confident that we can come up with a solution. It is imperative that we address this shortfall in this legislative session.

3. There are too many unanswered questions regarding the costs involved for Montana to expand Medicaid at this time. Before we make this decision, we need fewer uncertainties and more solid numbers.

4. We should approach the surplus with the same common sense Montana families use in approaching their budgets. We should invest some of the money and put the rest in the bank. If we are able to give tax rebates, let’s make sure middle-class families benefit first.

5. I believe we need to take a close look at property tax reform. When you have longtime homeowners being taxed off their property and out of their homes, you have a problem that demands a solution. Another issue that demands attention is the attempted privatization of our Montana Veterans’ Home in Columbia Falls. At the present time, the Veterans’ Home has a five-star rating from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid. This facility provides 180 quality-paying jobs for our community, which we highly value. Most importantly, this facility provides a high level of care and comfort to 114 veterans. These men and women fought for our country and put their lives on the line for all of the freedoms we currently enjoy. We cannot allow corporate profits and the bottom line to become the priority of this institution. The priority of our Montana Veterans’ Homes must be veterans first.

Name: Jerry O’Neil
Age: 69
Party: Republican
Bio: Independent paralegal, mediator, and serves on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation as an advocate and counselor, helping people who have problems access our judicial system; born in Kalispell and attended local schools; associate degree of arts from FVCC; attended Montana State University and University of Montana
Years in the valley: Virtually my entire life

1. The Legislature should expand competition by allowing private parties to engage in businesses without requiring pre-approval from the government. Some examples of these businesses might include limousine services and van lines. The Legislature should let our judicial system protect the public and not retard private enterprise by such things as “Certificates of Need” and contractor registration laws. It should speed up the permitting process for our extractive industries while continuing to protect our environment. Also it should do everything in its power to get the federal government to clean up our fire-prone and bug-infested federal forests, thus providing material for our timber industry.

2. The Legislature should consider increasing the retirement age for our government employees; change our retirement plans from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution” plans; or pay our public employees enough for them to fund their own retirement plans as most of the private sector presently does.

3. We should seriously consider eliminating our mandated insurance coverage requirements. We don’t need to mandate our citizens’ insurance policies to include provisions for such things as alcohol rehabilitation and birth-related expenses. We should also allow out-of-state purchase of insurance and for the private sector to provide insurance exchanges.

4. Given the unfunded wildfire costs and the unfunded teachers and public employees’ retirement plans, there is no surplus. We need to fund the fire costs, put a tourniquet on the retirement plans and then use what money is available to make the retirement plans healthy.

5. We need to plan for how we can protect, or minimize the impact on, our citizens if the profligate spending by the federal government sinks the U.S. dollar. We also need to take care of the unfunded state retirement systems and allow for the orderly, responsible and timely use of our natural resources.
On 10-13-12, Carla Augustad commented....
OMG, yet another anonymous writer bravely putting falsehoods into writing! I was flabbergasted that Jerry O’Neil was elected in 2010 selling a vision that in his own words “sounds a lot like slavery”, but he did.  Maybe the news clipped that blurb before sharing with the public, or…
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