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Ray Shaw - Republican

1. Jobs are of utmost importance. Health care issues such as Medicaid expansion need to be addressed now, a Montana solution to Medicaid expansion must be a priority.

Making sure our education system is is doing its job effectively.

Our economy is still sluggish. In order to create the jobs we need to stop all the unnecessary regulation, work on the business tax structure, and make our work-comp something we can live with.

2. Funding public education with natural resource dollars is a great success. Keeping control of our schools in the hands of local school boards and parents is a must. Jobs and education go hand in hand. Not all students after graduation are going to go on to four year schools. Many of the jobs we can create need skilled people, welders, electricians, mechanics, health care people etc.

The FFA programs are a great staring place for many of these young people. There are some great two-year schools in the state. Creating good-paying jobs and keeping our young people in the state is a must.

3. We have many challenges in the district. We need to promote tourism and make sure we get people to stop and shop in our communities. Jobs using our natural resources can happen but can get much better by getting government out of the way with unnecessary regulation.

In Jefferson County we have the Pipestone Creek and Jefferson Slough projects that are moving ahead. Virginia City and Nevada City, our two national treasures, will continue to need funding for restoration work. The mining industries in this district, Golden Sunlight, our talc operations, Garnet USA, and the ongoing efforts to clean up old mine sites are invaluable through all the jobs they create and support they give our communities. Agriculture is our number one industry and very important to to the local economy. Agriculture faces many challenges be it water, brucelious, sage grouse and weather. Agriculture is and will continue to be the back bone of this great state.

4. Balancing the budget is tough, but will be done. We have many things to think about - education, health care, veterans, an aging population and much more - so cutting the budget is not an easy task. Making government more efficient in delivering all services the public has come to expect is a good starting place. It is our responsibility as elected officials to make sure this happens. Working toward cutting taxes and reducing spending are steps we need to address.

5. Being able to work with colleagues and the people in state government is very important. Working for the people of Madison, Jefferson and Silver Bow counties is my number one priority. Doing what is right even though at the time it may not be very popular, and having learned to compromise when necessary for the good of the people and the state are very important.

Johanna Lester - Democrat

1. Poverty: Montana has one of the lowest income levels in the U.S. We are currently a service-based economy with low-paying jobs. We need to promote Montana as the best place for manufacturing, mining, and small businesses.

Health Care: Medicaid funding needs to be increased to help more of those who can’t take care of themselves. Currently, a mentally and physically disabled person is placed on a 10 year waiting list to receive services.

Education: The cost of education is prohibitive to our children and college students. The average college debt is $28,000, discourage higher education.

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2. I will push for incentives for small businesses, manufacturing and mining companies to start-up and succeed. A thriving economy with higher paying jobs will bring our poverty level down.

I will fight for more funding for Medicaid. Healthcare should be available to everyone. A person should never be placed in the position of losing all of their money and possessions because they got sick and did not have insurance.

I will endorse legislation that will reduce the burden of college expenses on our children and families. Education should be available to everyone, from Head Start to college.

3. In Madison County the price of housing and land has risen so high, the average Montanan can’t afford it. Who can? Rich out-of-staters. They are buying up the land, driving up the prices and closing off access to rivers, state and federal land. I will fight for access traditionally held by Montanans.

I will fight to keep Montanans in Montana. I have four children. They cannot afford to live in Madison County. I want to change that, so they and other Montanan children can stay close to home.

4. The state needs to increase spending on Medicaid. This can be achieved by increasing taxes on corporations. Personal income taxes exceed 50% of Montana’s total revenue. Corporations pay a mere 8.5 percent. Considering the population of Montana is only slightly higher than 1 million, this is a huge burden on its residents. I will act to lessen the disparity between personal income and corporate taxes.

5. I am not a politician. I am a concerned citizen with a vested interest in the future of Montana. My children are fifth-generation Montanans. I want to preserve the heritage that is rightfully theirs and all Montana residents. The growing gap between the rich and the middle-class and poor makes me feel sick. This is not what being an American and a Montanan is about. We live in the best state in the best country in the world. As a citizen of both, I have a responsibility to do my part to ensure the common people have a voice louder than the rich, in determining the future of Montana.

As a small business owner, I know what it takes to get things done. If elected, I will work hard for the people of Montana not for the interests of corporations and the ultra rich.

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