As a candidate for Missoula County Commissioner I appreciate the Missoula Independent publishing the April 24 article about the candidates in the upcoming election, and I would like to take this opportunity to address two subjects highlighted in that article (see "County control").
The first issue I wish to discuss is the gas tax proposed by the city of Missoula for the county to put on the ballot. This gas tax is essentially a sales tax on all county residents. Even though the county would benefit by the tax, the county's budget is under control and no additional taxes are currently required. Unfortunately, the city's budget doesn't seem to be in the same balanced state. At this point, I am not in favor of putting the gas tax on the ballot.
In regards to the issue of the county attorney's lawsuit, the Independent article stated that I was having a "tough time answering either 'yes' or 'no'" when asked if I would support the county attorney's request for funds to contest whether the U.S. Department of Justice had jurisdiction over his office. The reason for my hesitation is my belief that only the sitting commissioners have heard the whole story, and that undisclosed details may make a very convincing case in favor of the lawsuit. I believe that Montana's attorney general has jurisdiction over our state's county attorneys. A chain of command is in place and it doesn't appear that it was followed appropriately. As disclosed, the attorney general asked to be kept in the loop with anything uncovered by the DOJ. This is not the same as the attorney general relinquishing the control over the county attorneys, and there may be a valid reason that should be contested.
I strongly support all efforts to make our county safer for our families and community members, and as a father of two daughters who live in Missoula County, I am highly motivated to work towards a community we can all be proud of.