Hometown: Hamilton on my family ranch up Skalkaho Highway
Experience: I grew up in the Bitterroot Valley, near Painted Rocks Lake. My mom was a school teacher at Darby Elementary, and my dad was a contractor. I grew up hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors. My wife Brooke and I attended Darby High School together as best friends. We now have two children: Lyric, 17, and Brayden, 14. From a young age we have always valued family and have had an extreme work ethic. We worked through high school together with a common goal of purchasing a home after graduation while we went to college. Weeks after graduation we purchased our home together. Brooke and I both worked for the Forest Service fighting fire in the summer and I worked in construction in the winters while we attended the University of Montana. In 2001, I decided to start my own construction company. Brooke continued to work for the Forest Service to support the family while I was building our construction company. A couple years later Brooke became licensed in the real estate profession. In the years since, we have purchased and sold many investment properties, opened a real estate firm, developed a marina/rv park on Flathead Lake and most recently we purchased a 700-acre ranch up Skalkaho in Hamilton to begin the lifestyle we have always wanted. We have accomplished all this through extreme hard work, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of risk taking. We have always focused on our family, living within our means and staying debt free while taking huge calculated risk. We sacrificedour lifestyle by living in our garage for four years in order stay debt free during the recession and to be able to invest in expanding our businesses. My real-life experience has taught me how to manage budgets to the extreme, be resourceful with opportunities given, live within my means and negotiate the best deals possible.
1. For you personally, what does it mean to be a Republican?
For me being a member of the Republican Party means that everyone who is capable is responsible for taking care of themselves and the role of the government is to make sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed and take care of themselves. The government should only take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. I believe the government should have a small, limited role in the oversight of business; less regulation is the key to allowing businesses to grow and succeed. I believe the government should be small and lean.
2. The Montana GOP platform calls for studying the transfer of federal public lands to the state. Where do you stand on this issue?
On the issue of transferring public lands to the state, I first of all am against the sale of any public lands. I would like to see the state have more control over how our lands are managed. I don’t believe the Washington politicians know what is best for the management of our state's lands. I believe tort reform is one of the keys to allowing for proper management of our lands. I believe studying all options should be on the table. The state should work with the federal government to come up with a way to allow for more local control of our federal land within the state of Montana.
3. The last state budgeting session was difficult. An estimated $170 million in additional cuts to the budget resulted in people losing jobs in state government, with private contractors and in the medical field, as well as reduced services for many Montanans. Do you support the way that issue was addressed? If not, what do you think should have happened?
Last year's budget was very difficult. It turns out the estimates were wrong and Governor Bullock didn’t need to call a special session. I do support the way the budget was handled. The government needs to manage budgets just like all hard-working families manage budgets; when money gets tight you cut costs. Raising taxes on the working people of our state is never the answer.