I feel fortunate to live and work in Montana, and I don’t take it for granted. I was born here, earned degrees here, and have made lifelong friendships here for which I’ll always be grateful. But it’s not clear whether future generations of Montanans may be so lucky. While many of us would willingly pay a little extra to support strong communities and healthy landscapes, it’s becoming more expensive to be a Montanan. This is why sustainability, affordability, and equality will be my guiding principles as a state legislator.
My worldview has been shaped by our public schools and from having lived in our urban and rural communities. I was born in Missoula and grew up on the Flathead Reservation as a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). After earning my bachelor of science in resource conservation at the University of Montana, I stayed here to obtain my law degree as well. I wanted to work directly on the issues I had seen and experienced growing up. After topping off my legal studies at the University of Arizona with a master of laws, I was fortunate to land a job with the CSKT after graduating, first as a prosecutor, and then as a member of the Tribes legal department. I own a home in Missoula with my wife who is also an attorney who works in House District 95.
It was an honor to serve as a minority whip and as the representative for House District 95 during the 2017 Montana Legislative Session. Some of our accomplishments in the 2017 session included the establishment of an Earned Income Tax Credit, $1 Million for suicide prevention, funding for education and senior long-term care, protecting women’s reproductive rights, protecting our public lands, reforming our criminal justice sentencing and fighting for equal treatment for our LGBTQI community. I worked hard to pass several bills. Most notably, I passed the Montana Promise Act. This bill established a need based aid grant program for individuals to attend 2 year colleges.
I know that our great state can and should be a place of opportunity for all Montanans. We have accomplished a great deal, but there is much more work to be done. It is time for us to fully achieve equality for women, minorities, and low-income families. It is time for us to candidly, face our issues in addiction, mental health, homelessness, student debt, and fair taxes. I hope that we can continue forward with our momentum for the 2019 legislative session.