Congressional Special Election
Candidate Inquiry and Assessment

We asked the two major candidates for the congressional seat for their positions on public education, diversity, public lands and infrastructure. Rob Quist responded, Greg Gianforte did not. We are posting Quist’s response and what we understand to be Gianforte’s position based on public statements and website.

Public Education

Quist (response to OSM): “I am adamantly opposed to policies that take funding away from public schools to put it toward private schools. Any time tax dollars are used for education; we need to make sure that high standards are upheld. I am a product of a small town Montana public school, so I know firsthand that our state has some of the best teachers and schools in the country, from the smallest towns to our bigger cities. Investing in a strong public education system is investing in Montana’s future, and I will always stand for giving our kids all the tools they need to succeed.”

Gianforte: No response to OSM, nothing on website under issues, has said in public comments that he is in favor of school choice.

OSM: We all have or have had children in the public school system and we all believe in public money for quality public schools, from pre-K through University. We also support community colleges and apprenticeship programs which provide qualified job candidates for roles that are vital to building strong communities and businesses. These are critical factors when we try to recruit and retain employees from out of state. They also are critical because the public school system is educating the future workforce of Montana. We know this because we all have hired Montana graduates and find them to be among our finest employees. There are some in the state who want to divert our public education funds to private schools without any accountability to curriculums and quality of teaching. We oppose this as we fear this will undermine the existing strong public education system. Join us

Conclusion: Clear nod to Rob Quist for Congress based on what we believe is best for Montana business.

Diversity

Quist (response to OSM): “I am in support of measures to protect all Montanans from discrimination on any basis, and I will oppose any efforts to allow tis discrimination to take place in our state. Montanans respect our neighbors, and we know that giving everyone fair and equal treatment is not only the right thing to do, but also makes our state a desirable place to live, raise a family, and do business.”

Gianforte (no response to OSM, nothing on website): In the past has opposed anti-discrimination measures in Bozeman and opposed equal pay laws.

OSM: Diversity means including and respecting people of all types regardless of gender, sexual preference, gender orientation, religious preference, ethnic affiliation, race or any other distinction. First and foremost this is a moral question, and we do not see any grounds for prevarication on the topic: We welcome diversity. Second, diversity is good for business. Having a state and culture that welcomes diversity is critical to employee recruitment and retention for our businesses. It is critical that we have elected officials who understand this and will maintain laws and policies that promote and protect diversity in the state. Join us

ConclusionRob Quist for Congress supports measures that make Montana a great place for business.

Public Lands

Quist (response to OSM): “I am, and will continue to be, steadfastly opposed to the transfer of public land ownership. We know that transferring control of federal lands will lead to sale and privatization, which is nothing less than theft of our children’s and our grandchildren’s heritage as Montanans. I believe that the top priority in management of public lands must always be maintaining and expanding public access for Montanans. I support fully funding and permanently authorizing the Land and water Conservation fund. Growing up in CutBank, and living now in the beauty of the Flathead Valley, I know that Montana’s public lands are our single greatest treasure as a state. Montanans can count on me to always to be an unwavering defender of public access to public lands.”

Gianforte (from website Issues section): “Montana’s public lands are second to none. As an avid outdoorsman, Susan and I have raised our four kids in Montana hiking, fishing, hunting, climbing, rafting and skiing on Montana’s public lands. That’s why as your Representative, you can count on me to fight back against the liberal elites’ War on the West. I’ll defend our right to hunt, fish and recreate on public lands. I won’t let Washington bureaucrats lock us out. I’ll always protect our public lands because they should stay in public hands.” “I’ll work to rein in the out-of-touch Washington, D.C. regulations that are holding back small businesses and killing jobs. I’ll fight to protect our coal and timber jobs.” (From public record): sued to deny access to Gallatin River near his home, donated to organizations promoting transfer of public lands.

OSM: We all enjoy and cherish the natural beauty of Montana and our state’s legacy of open space, public lands and public access. Our public lands, state and federal, are a key asset and a major factor in recruiting and retaining employees for our businesses. Access to public lands contributes to the quality of life of every resident. These lands belong to all Montanans and all Americans and are part of what makes our state and country unique. Join us

Conclusion: It is difficult to reconcile Gianforte’s website words with his past actions to deny access on public lands near his home and donations to groups supporting public lands transfers. In addition, a commitment to “fight back against the liberal elites’ War on the West” and “rein in…regulations” appears to line up with the Trump initiatives to eliminate EPA protections, which may have dramatic effects on our public lands and the environment. Nod goes to Rob Quist for Congress as representing Montana’s interests.

Infrastructure

Quist (response to OSM) “Infrastructure investment is critical for a rural state like Montana. I will support programs that provide funding for safe and modern infrastructure in our state, such as highway construction matching funds. It is vitally important to ensure that infrastructure investments are properly funded, and I believe that this can be done without taking funding away from other important priorities.”

Gianforte (no mention on Issues page on website, indicated support for in gubernatorial campaign)

OSM: Montana must have modern and advanced infrastructure to compete in national and international markets. This means (1) sound roads and bridges to support efficient and safe ground-based commerce, (2) a robust communication system that includes access to high speed internet connectivity in order to support interaction with customers, partners, suppliers, and investors from outside the state and to spread economic opportunity to more remote parts of the state and (3) efficient air transportation systems, with access to more metropolitan areas outside of the state in order to support growth of businesses that depend on direct interaction with investors, suppliers and partners from outside of Montana.

Montana’s current infrastructure is good now and has allowed the state to grow and compete in emerging industries with good paying jobs. But for Montana to continue to grow and compete its infrastructure needs to be better. An ongoing, serious commitment by the state to maintain its roads and bridges, to expand the speed and reach of the internet, and to support an increase in the air cargo and transport services, is essential. In addition, projects to strengthen our infrastructure provide jobs right now. Join us

Conclusion: Nod to Rob Quist for Congress for acknowledging the priority of infrastructure investments.