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Who’s Running for the Legislature in the Flathead?

Voters across Montana will head to the polls this November to decide the results of one of the most consequential election cycles in recent history. President Joe Biden is up for reelection, as is longtime U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, the only Democratic member of Montana’s Congressional delegation who pundits have declared “vulnerable” in 2024. Montanans will also decide the fate of two U.S. House seats, two Supreme Court seats, state auditor, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, a number of Public Service Commission and district court judge positions and, of course, the Legislature. 

Montana’s Legislature is comprised of 50 senators and 100 representatives who dictate policies from road funding to affordable housing to income taxes. Voters in 2023 elected the first Republican bicameral supermajority to the Legislature since the state’s modern Constitution was adopted in 1972, sending 102 Republicans and 48 Democrats to Helena. In the Flathead, all but one state lawmaker elected by voters in 2023, Whitefish Democrat Rep. Dave Fern, is a Republican. 

As the election cycle nears, candidates are gearing up to face newly drawn legislative districts and a landscape shaped by high property taxes, housing affordability issues and a polarized political climate that has seeped into local and national races alike. 

Below is a list of the candidates running for Legislature in the Flathead and Tobacco Valleys. This list will be continually updated through the election cycle. The general election is on Nov. 5. Results and analysis from the June 4 primary election can be read here.

Flathead County voters can find their legislative district here and check their voter registration here.

* denotes the candidate is currently serving in the Montana Legislature

Whitefish, Columbia Falls, West Glacier, Essex, Polebridge, OlneyView map here

Doug Adams (R)

Doug Adams will make his second run for the Montana Legislature after years of involvement in Whitefish city government and on the ImagineIF Libraries board of trustees. The Republican candidate spent four years on the Whitefish City Council and served as the city’s deputy mayor. As a trustee for the ImagineIF Libraries, Adams has been a vocal advocate for challenging books deemed “controversial” and has characterized the nonprofit American Library Association as promoting a “radical leftist agenda.” During his unsuccessful 2014 run for the Montana House, Adams said he does not support expanding Medicaid, believes in “the responsible harvesting” of coal, oil and gas and does not support educational methods like Common Core due to the possibility of “indoctrinating children into political correctness.” Adams lives in Whitefish and works as a landscape designer.

Dave Fern * (D)

Longtime Whitefish representative Dave Fern will be running for Senate to represent Whitefish, Columbia Falls and the communities around the west side of Glacier National Park. In his four terms in the Montana House, Fern has stood out as one of the Flathead Valley’s only Democratic representatives. His tenure has been defined by his work on the taxation, transportation and local government committees. Fern currently serves on the Behavioral Health Systems for Future Generations Commission and Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Property Tax Task Force. The Whitefish representative in 2023 sponsored three successful bills: revisions of the annual job growth incentive tax credit, garbage tie-down laws and the state’s “Housing Montana” fund. He supports property tax assistance programs for the middle class, an increase in the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate and an expansion of regional healthcare services. He considers himself to be a “pro-choice” candidate. Fern has championed his willingness to work across the aisle and his institutional knowledge. The Democrat in 2022 beat Republican challenger Lyn Bennett by 23 percentage points. Fern is the owner and operator of chimney maintenance and supply company Whitefish Chimney Solutions.

West Valley, Kalispell (north of Three Mile Drive), La Salle, Hungry Horse, Martin City, Coram – View map here

Carl Glimm (R) *

Six-term Kila legislator Carl Glimm is running for reelection in the newly configured Senate District 3. Gilmm served four terms in the Montana House, from 2013 to 2019, before being elected to the Senate for the 2021 and 2023 sessions. Glimm is a member of the conservative Montana Freedom Caucus. The lawmaker during the 2023 session successfully carried six bills, including revisions to subdivision sanitation laws and a bill requiring a report of drugs for victims of suicide. Glimm describes himself as “pro-family, pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and pro-Montana.” The lawmaker has introduced a number of bills pertaining to LGBTQ+ Montanans, including a 2015 bill that would have given individuals grounds to violate state laws that infringed on their “religious freedom,” including allowing county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He also brought a 2018 bill calling for a voter referendum on whether or not transgender people should be barred from public restrooms that do not match their sex assigned at birth; a 2021 bill that required individuals to obtain gender reassignment surgery before changing the sex marker on their birth certificate; and a 2023 bill that defined “sex” in state law as only male or female. He defeated Democratic challenger Kyle Waterman by 37 percentage points in 2020. Glimm is a homebuilder and a graduate of Montana State University. 

Angela Kennedy (D)

Former Montana House candidate and “fiscally conservative Democrat” Angela Kennedy will challenge Carl Glimm for Senate District 3. Kennedy is a project manager in the biomanufacturing industry and is the president of the Flathead County Democratic Women. In an unsuccessful 2022 race for Montana House against Republican Rep. Courtenay Sprunger, Kennedy said she believed in reconfiguring the state’s property tax formula, protecting public lands and expanding rural access to healthcare. She also said that she was galvanized to run for office following the United States Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, and that her vast experience managing businesses and working with federal agencies would help her bring important skills to the Legislature. Kennedy ran for Kalispell City Council in 2021, losing to Jed Fisher by 125 votes. Her community involvements have included being a trolley driver and scheduler for the Montana Trolley Company, as well as working with Foy’s to Blacktail Trails, Habitat for Humanity, Kalispell City Parks and the Flathead Food Bank.

Senate District 5

Kila, Somers, Lakeside, Batavia, Foy’s Lake, west Kalispell – View map here

Matt Regier (R) *

Speaker of the Montana House Matt Regier is running for state Senate to represent west Kalispell and the communities along the northwest shore of Flathead Lake. Regier is a four-term state representative who in 2023 was elected House Speaker. Regier emerged as a prominent conservative voice in 2023 as he led the Montana Republican caucus through a historically contentious session. The legislator has served on a number of committees including the House appropriations, rules and health and human services committees. He told the Beacon that, if elected, he hopes to “represent conservative values” in the Senate and continue his track record of supporting “pro-family” policy and “small, efficient government.” More specifically, he hopes to eliminate income tax on Social Security and return the state’s 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax to counties of origin if sent back to Helena in 2025. Regier landed in the national spotlight last year after he refused to recognize transgender Rep. Zooey Zephyr, D-Missoula, following Zephyr’s comments on the House floor regarding a bill to ban gender-affirming healthcare for minors. Regier carried two successful bills during the 2023 session. One such bill was a ban on dilatation and evacuation procedures, a form of abortion and miscarriage treatment. He was also the architect of LR 131, a failed 2022 ballot initiative that sought to penalize doctors who did not perform life-saving measures on infants, even if fatal abnormalities were present. Regier is the son of Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, and the sister of Rep. Amy Regier, R-Kalispell. He was born in Kalispell and is a graduate of Flathead High School and the University of Montana. Regier beat security company president Marquis Laude in the Republican primary, garnering 67% of the vote (2,862) to Laude’s 33% (1,422). 

Link Neimark (D) 

Whitefish business owner and former Congressional candidate Lee Neimark, or “Link,” is running as a Democrat in Senate District 5. Neimark owns Whitefish’s Rock Climb Montana, has been a ski instructor at Whitefish Mountain Resort and previously worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Neimark in 2017 ran in the Democratic primary for Montana’s at-large House seat. The primary was won by musician Rob Quist. Quist eventually lost to current Gov. Greg Gianforte in the general election. Neimark told Montana Public Radio in 2017 that his top issues were education, healthcare, clean energy and supporting the middle class. 

In Flathead County Senate Race, House Speaker Faces Security Company President

Eureka, Rexford, Troy, TregoView map here

Neil Duram (R) *

Three-term Republican Neil Duram is running for reelection to represent northern Lincoln County. He is a former Montana Highway Patrol trooper and currently serves as the chief of the Eureka Police Department. Duram during the 2023 legislative session carried three successful bills pertaining to motor vehicle and emergency response laws, all of which passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support. He has opposed allocating funding for homeless resource providers; supported a bill that applies criminal penalties to public school employees who distribute materials deemed “obscene” by the state; and suggested the state establish an “election security team” to oversee ballot counting. The lawmaker in 2023 served as the vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee and in 2022 served as the vice-chair of the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee. Duram in 1992 received a degree in sociology with an emphasis on criminology from the University of Montana. He ran unopposed for the House in 2022 and 2018 and beat Democratic challenger Lori Ramesz by 60 percentage points in 2020.

Dakota Adams (D)

Twenty-six year-old Lincoln County resident and son of Oath Keepers militia founder Stewart Rhodes is challenging longtime Lincoln County legislator Neil Duram. Adams lives outside of Eureka, where he works construction and attends Flathead Valley Community College part time. He is also a rural volunteer firefighter with the Trego-Fortine-Stryker Volunteer Fire Department. The first-time political candidate gained notoriety after publicly denouncing his father, Stewart Rhodes, who founded the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers and was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol. Adams has said he is running to give Lincoln County voters a choice in the House election, as Republican candidates in rural Montana often run uncontested. Per an interview with the Helena Independent Record, Adams plans to focus on maintaining the independence of the Montana Supreme Court, addressing rising property taxes and pushing back against the Legislature’s laws that have restricted rights for transgender Montanans.

Libby, Marion, White HavenView map here

Tom Millett (R)

Marion resident Tom Millett is running for House to represent Libby and western Flathead County. Millett served in the U.S. Navy for eight years, commissioning and serving on two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and participating in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Millett completed electricians school and graduated from the Naval Nuclear Power Program. After his service, he worked in the civilian nuclear and fossil power generations industry, as well as the telecommunications industry. Millett describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” who believes in “eliminating unnecessary, duplicative, and excessive laws and regulations.” The candidate plans to support policies that encourage “responsible natural resource development” and economic growth. Millett says he will prioritize “protecting our way of life,” lowering property taxes and increasing access to public lands. The federal government in June 2023 obtained tax liens and judgement against Millett’s property after he refused to pay any federal income taxes between 2004 and 2017. According to court documents, Millett did not pay his taxes because he stated “he is exempt from federal taxation, as only people who work in Washington, D.C. earn taxable ‘income.’” He has lived in Marion with his wife for 12 years. Millett beat retired Libby business owner Tom Jenkins in the June Republican primary with 53% of votes (903) to Jenkins’ 47% (786). Jenkins was backed by Conservatives4MT, a statewide PAC that spent roughly $240,000 in efforts to elect moderate Republicans to the state Legislature. 

Elizabeth Story (D)

Candidate did not respond to inquiries from the Beacon and does not have a publicly available campaign page.

Whitefish (north of the viaduct, west of Baker Avenue), West Glacier, Olney, Polebridge, Essex – View map here

Debo Powers (D)

Conservation advocate and former educator Debo Powers is running for office in a reconfigured House district that may be favorable towards Democrats in November. Powers is a retired teacher and a public lands advocate who lives in a solar-powered house north of Polebridge. She has worked with a number of environmental coalitions and organizations, including the Whitefish Range Partnership, North Fork Preservation Association and Wild Montana. Powers serves on the Flathead National Forest Resource Advisory Committee, is the past president of the North Fork Landowners Association and was a volunteer wilderness patrol in Glacier National Park. The Polebridge resident served in the Montana House from November 2019 to January 2021 after being appointed to fill a vacant position. Powers supports allowing local governments to impose restrictions on short-term rentals, increasing funding for public education and protecting abortion access. She told the Beacon that, if elected, she hopes to address affordable housing and protect access to public lands. Powers in 2020 lost a House race to Republican Rep. Braxton Mitchell. Powers beat independent filmmaker Guthrie Quist in the June Democratic primary, winning 73% of the vote (993) to Quist’s 27% (363).

Cathy Mitchell (R)

Cathy Mitchell is a nurse practitioner at Greater Valley Health Clinic who is running for the House to “address the concerns of the citizens of Montana” and preserve Montana’s scenery, as well as its agriculture and cattle industry. Mitchell says she hopes to limit “big government” and “bring back economic opportunity” to Montana. She describes herself as a “supporter of the Second Amendment” and believes “every unborn has the right to life.” She also hopes to address the opioid and mental health crises in the Flathead Valley. Mitchell is married to a retired Marine fighter pilot whose family has lived in Kalispell since the 1950s. She has no prior political experience.

Flathead Democrats Vie for Newly Drawn State House Seat

Downtown Whitefish (south of the viaduct, east of Baker Avenue), Columbia FallsView map here

Lyn Bennett (R)

Republican candidate Lyn Bennett will once again seek election in Whitefish, running to secure a seat in a newly configured House district that includes downtown Whitefish and Columbia Falls. Bennett in 2022 ran against incumbent Rep. Dave Fern, D-Whitefish, losing by 22 percentage points. She describes herself as “pro-family, pro-life and pro-parental rights,” and says she supports relaxing local zoning regulations to spur housing development, encouraging “clean and responsible American oil and gas production,” taxing wind and solar energy to lower taxes and lowering impact fees. Bennett is the president of the Glacier Country Pachyderm and formerly served on the board of the Flathead County Republican Women.

Lindsey Jordan (D)

Licensed clinical social worker Lindsey Jordan will be running as a Democrat in her first campaign for elected office. Jordan works with children and adolescents as a social worker at Logan Health, as well as in school settings. She was born and raised in the Flathead Valley where her father worked for BNSF Railway and her mother cared for the family farm. Jordan attended the Columbia Falls public schools through high school graduation before attending a private Christian college in Pennsylvania for her bachelor’s degree and Case Western Reserve University to obtain her master’s degree in social administration. Jordan says she believes in healthcare access, a strong public education system, affordable housing, fair tax policy and access to Montana’s public lands.

Helena Flats (north of Rose Crossing, east of Whitefish Stage), Hungry Horse, CoramView map here

Braxton Mitchell (R) *

23-year-old state representative Braxton Mitchell was raised in Columbia Falls, where he cut his teeth in politics by organizing a pro-gun rights protest in opposition to a “March for Our Lives” protest organized by his high school classmates. He is a staunch ally of Donald Trump and a former ambassador for Turning Point USA, a conservative political organization geared towards high school students. In his two sessions in the Montana House, Mitchell has positioned himself as the face of a new generation of Montana conservatives. Mitchell during the 2023 session introduced bills that created a new state veterans’ cemetery, required candidates for office to be registered to vote and allowed Montana liquor stores to sell “gelatin cup alcoholic product,” or Jell-O shots. The lawmaker’s most notable bill of the 2023 session, House Bill 359, banned minors from attending drag shows. A federal judge blocked the enforcement of the law last year, citing a lack of legal standing and vague language. Mitchell has called the bill “common sense legislation.” During his most recent run for the House, Mitchell beat Democratic candidate Andrea Getts by 18 percentage points. Mitchell works for his family’s businesses, Vandevanter Meats and Montana Jerky Company and operates a car rental company. If reelected, the candidate hopes to strengthen penalties for DUI fatalities, address rising property taxes, bolster financial literacy programs and expand opportunities for volunteer sheriff’s deputies to carry weapons.

Steve Paugh (D)

Steve Paugh, otherwise known as “Philly Steve,” is running as a Democrat to represent the Badrock Canyon and eastern Flathead County. Paugh is an organizer of the annual Cabin Fever Days barstool races in Martin City. He moved to Martin City in 2009 after living in Pennsylvania for 50 years, where he owned commercial rental properties, was a school board trustee and served on the board of Pocono Area Transitional Housing, a nonprofit that helped people experiencing homelessness find housing. Paugh was formerly the executive director of First Best Place, a Columbia Falls-based community group that worked on a number of community projects, including hosting summer farmers markets and supporting a community garden at River’s Edge Park. The group disbanded in late 2012. Paugh has also served as a summertime volunteer at Glacier National Park’s transit center. He believes in guarding access to public lands and supporting legislation that protects Second Amendment rights while curbing the risk of gun violence. He hopes to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans and dilute the power of the GOP’s legislative supermajority.

Colton Little (I)

Columbia Falls High School senior Colton Little is running as an independent in his first race for public office. Little told the Beacon that his lifelong interest in civics and government motivated him to run for the Legislature and represent his home district. The young candidate is running as an independent in hopes to reach constituents on both sides of the aisle and bring policy solutions that are not partial to either party. He said he believes voters in the district care most about access to public lands, housing affordability and public education, and are not focused on hot-button social issues that dominate national politics. There are currently no independents serving in the Montana Legislature.

In the Historically Red Badrock Canyon, Three-Way House Race Takes Shape

West Valley, RhodesView map here

Amy Regier (R) *

Kalispell nurse and two-term lawmaker Amy Regier is seeking reelection to represent the rural communities west of Kalispell. Raised in West Valley, Regier is a graduate of Flathead High School and the College of Nursing at Montana State University. During the 2023 legislative session, Regier introduced bills restricting access to abortion, enhancing penalties for certain sexual crimes and creating a sexual assault response network program. Regier’s House Bill 303, which was signed by the governor, allows medical providers to deny services based on “ethical, moral, or religious” principles. Regier in 2023 chaired the House Judiciary Committee. She has posted on social media that she opposes the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ water rights compact between the tribes, the federal government and the state of Montana. She also advocated against the use of masks in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and is an proponent of gun rights. Regier is the sister of Speaker of the Montana House Matt Regier and daughter of Kalispell Sen. Keith Regier. She ran unopposed in the 2022 Republican primary and general election.

Velvet Phillips-Sullivan (D)

Born and raised in Whitefish, Velvet Phillips-Sullivan is a former Whitefish City Council member and the owner of Velvet Touch Energy Works, an alternative medicine practice where she is a practitioner of acupuncture, Kundalini yoga, Reiki and medicinal aromatherapy. She owned the now closed Rocks and Things store in Whitefish. Phillips-Sullivan “grew up blue collar in a blue-collar Whitefish” and raised her daughter as a single mother, working at the Buffalo Cafe in addition to her alternative medicine practices. She served on the Whitefish City Council from 2004 to 2007, and has served on the boards of Stumptown Arts Studio and Land to Hand (formerly known as Farm Hands). The mother of Mallory Phillips, board member of Whitefish-based housing nonprofit Shelter WF, Phillips-Sullivan has become an advocate for increasing affordable housing in the resort town.

Downtown KalispellView map here

Courtenay Sprunger (R) *

Kalispell lawmaker Courtenay Sprunger is seeking reelection to the Montana House. Sprunger rose to prominence in the House in 2023 as a moderate, policy-oriented Republican, garnering the support of Gov. Greg Gianforte and a coalition of Democrats and Republicans. Sprunger carried eight successful bills through the Legislature, including the establishment of an adoption tax credit; the expansion of advanced opportunity funding for public schools; and the creation of a fund to match federal grant dollars for statewide infrastructure projects. The Republican lawmaker says she plans to “advocate for a smaller government focused on infrastructure, education, housing and public safety.” Sprunger in 2024 has been endorsed by Gianforte, U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke and the National Rifle Association. If reelected, she hopes to cut red tape to spur the private development of affordable housing, improve trades education and set a budget cap on local governments to rein in property tax growth. The Flathead County Republican Caucus last winter rebuked Sprunger and Rep. Tony Brockman, R-Kalispell, alleging that the lawmakers “lack the same ideology” as the rest of the party and helped Democrats by voting for a bipartisan rules package. Sprunger responded that “we are always wise to keep power in the hands of the people” and that “to compromise this belief because we have a supermajority or a certain leader in power would be to embrace situational ethics.” Sprunger was born and raised in Kalispell and is a graduate of Flathead High School and Vanguard University of Southern California. She is the founder and CEO of a Kalispell-based public relations firm. Sprunger fended off a challenge from an ultra-conservative contender in the Republican primary, garnering 63% of the vote (848) to Kalispell businessman Shaun Pandina’s 37% (502). 

Arthur Fretheim (D)

Arthur Fretheim is a first-time legislative candidate and paraeducator in the Kalispell Public Schools. Fretheim moved to Kalispell after graduating from Ohio’s Grinnell College in 2014. He has worked in local restaurants and grocery stores in the Flathead Valley, as a news clerk and proofreader for the Daily Inter Lake, and as a special education teacher and paraeducator in the Marion and Kalispell school districts. Fretheim said he “decided to enter the race to give a voice to working people and to fight for lower taxes, rents and utility bills,” and that he hopes to expand healthcare coverage and protect Montanans’ constitutional rights. The candidate hopes to curtail the rising cost of living in the Flathead Valley “at the expense of ordinary people” and has “been deeply disturbed by recent incidents of violence and extremism.”

Evergreen, north KalispellView map here

Lukas Schubert (R)

Eighteen-year-old conservative candidate and Flathead Valley Community College student Lukas Schubert beat freshman House member Rep. Tony Brockman in a competitive Republican primary in Evergreen and north Kalispell. Schubert, a 2023 graduate of Glacier High School, positioned himself as an ultra-conservative foil to Brockman, whose term in the Legislature was defined by his moderate-leaning politics. Schubert during the primary criticized Brockman for casting votes that are “not particularly conservative.” The candidate will consider “Christian and Biblical values” while voting in Helena; work to revive Montana’s logging industry to lower housing prices; and fight against what he describes as “leftist indoctrination” in Montana’s public schools. Schubert has questioned the integrity of electronic voting machines and says he supports hand counting votes in all elections. He believes in curbing the power of the judiciary and allowing judges to run with party labels. Judicial races in Montana are currently non-partisan. The conservative candidate has garnered the support of a number of Republican officials, including Speaker of the Montana House Matt Regier and county commissioners Brad Abell and Randy Brodehl. Schubert served on the Flathead County Transportation Advisory Committee and is the secretary of the Flathead County Republican Central Committee. Schubert won 60% of the vote (1,502) to Brockman’s 40% (1,017). 

Beth Sibert (D)

Democratic House candidate and therapist Beth Sibert was born in St. Ignatius and raised in the woods near Kalispell’s Tally Lake. She is a graduate of West Valley School and Flathead High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University in recreational therapy and Spanish. She is a recreational therapist at Logan Health, as well as a working mom with two children who are enrolled in the Kalispell Public Schools. As a legislator, Sibert hopes to increase affordability across Montana, expand female representation in the Montana Legislature and “create more diverse communities where everyone feels safe.” Inspired by her experience working in healthcare, the Democratic candidate wants to expand mental and behavioral health services in Montana. She also supports “physically and financially” supporting schoolteachers and giving everyone “access to quality, non-censored educational materials.”

In Evergreen, Conservative Challenger Aims to Oust Brockman

Facing Challenge from the Right, Incumbent Rep. Brockman Loses Legislative Contest

Somers, Lakeside, Foy’s Lake, Kila – View map here

Steve Kelly (R)

Steve Kelly is a retired law enforcement officer who spent 30 years working in public safety in Nevada. Kelly served in the Washoe County Sherriff’s Office for 25 years before retiring as a captain in 2011. During his tenure in law enforcement, he managed the county’s jail and worked in the sheriff’s office patrol, detention, district court, search and rescue and administration departments, as well as in hostage negotiation and officer training. Following his retirement from the sheriff’s office, Kelly was a content development manager for a public safety manuals company. In the Flathead Valley, Kelly is a member of the Flathead County Republican Central Committee, an associate member of the Flathead County Republican Women and a member of the Glacier Country Pachyderm. Kelly’s campaign priorities include ensuring that Flathead Lake is “managed in a manner that benefits all, not just one group”; that Montana addresses illegal immigration; that property taxes are stabilized; and that teachers “get back to teaching and not be distracted with promoting social issues or enabling students to behave contrary to parents’ wishes.” Kelly beat Flathead High School math teacher and Kalispell resident Lee Huestis during the June Republican primary. He won 55% of the vote (1,223) to Huestis’ 45% (986). While Kelly was endorsed by the Flathead County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) in March, Huestis declined to participate in the endorsement process, calling it “epically irresponsible.” Huestis was supported by Conservatives4MT, a statewide PAC that spent roughly $240,000 in efforts to elect moderate Republicans to the state Legislature. 

Joanne Morrow (D)

Candidate did not respond to inquiries from the Beacon and does not have a publicly available campaign page.

Kalispell (west of North Meridian Road, south of Farm to Market), Batavia, Kila – View map here

Terry Falk (R) *

Freshman legislator Terry Falk is seeking reelection in a reconfigured House district that includes a portion of his current constituency. Falk in 2022 was elected to represent House District 8, which included south and west Kalispell, including the developments surrounding the U.S. 93 bypass. In his first run for office, Falk won in a crowded Republican primary field and beat Libertarian city councilor Sid Daoud in the general election. In his first campaign for House, he supported increasing financial literacy in schools and reducing property taxes. He has described himself as a “pro-life” candidate. The lawmaker in 2023 carried three successful laws through the Legislature, including a bill that allowed some childcare workers caring for children 2 and older to work in another room during nap periods. Falk also carried two bills revising Montana’s liquor laws. Falk in 2022 received endorsements from Kalispell’s Rep. Amy Regier and Speaker of the House Matt Regier. Falk is a real estate loan officer who has lived in Kalispell for over 40 years. He has served as an assistant basketball coach at Stillwater Christian School and on the board of the Samaritan House.

Devin Marconi (D)

Adjunct government and politics professor Devin Marconi is making his first run for political office to represent parts of Kalispell and the rural communities in the west valley. Marconi was raised in Richmond, Va. before family ties to Montana brought him to the area. He received a bachelor’s degree in 2021 and a master’s in 2023 from the University of Montana, both in political science. In addition to teaching at Flathead Valley Community College, Marconi has coached Kalispell students in speech and debate. The candidate supports developing a bipartisan approach to tax policy and spending. He also hopes to regulate short-term rentals to increase housing options for locals and craft legislation that upholds individual gun rights while encouraging responsible practices.

Creston, south Kalispell, north Bigfork – View map here

Ed Byrne (R)

Ed Byrne is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and small business owner who lives in Creston. Byrne is a 1992 graduate of the University of Montana, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science and government and served in the Montana Army National Guard. He served in the U.S. Army for 30 years as a strategist and chief of staff, where he designed and implemented leadership development and marketing strategies and mentored military officers. After his retirement from the Army in 2013, Byrne settled on his family’s farm in the Flathead. He currently runs a sawmill specializing in custom beams and boards. He has coached local football, is a member of the Bigfork VFW Post 4042 and is a leader of the Northwest Montana Westerners history group. Byrne is also active in the Flathead County Republican Central Committee, Glacier County Pachyderm Club and Flathead County Republican Women. The candidate hopes to focus on tax policy and appropriations if elected, lowering property taxes and passing relief for seniors and farmers. He wants to end Montana’s policy of taxing seniors on Social Security and rectify what he describes as the “ill-gotten” water compact between Montana and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). Byrne believes the state should return its 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax to the counties of origin instead of depositing it into the General Fund. Byrne beat former Bigfork School District Transportation Director Rob Tracy in the June Republican primary. Tracy, a self-described “moderate,” said he hoped to work across the aisle to fund public education, promote workforce housing and enforce responsible state spending. Tracy was also backed by Conservatives4MT, the statewide PAC that pushed to elect moderate Republicans to the Legislature. 

Jennifer Allen (D)

Jennifer Allen is a social worker and mental health professional who will be making her third run for state office as a Democrat. Allen moved to Montana in the 1970s, raising her children in Billings and working at the Montana Women’s Prison. She has spent the majority of her career working in the mental and behavioral health field, administering crisis response programs, training law enforcement and working with legislative committees on policy development. She has lived in Northwest Montana for 16 years, where she worked in local law offices and mental health programs. Allen in 2018 ran for Legislature against incumbent Sen. Bob Keenan, however withdrew from the campaign before the general election as her husband was diagnosed with cancer. The Democrat in 2019 unsuccessfully ran for state House against then Rep. Mark Noland. Allen told the Beacon she hopes to fix Montana’s broken mental health system, help the state’s tourism and agricultural economies adapt to climate change, and advance legislation to spur the development of affordable housing. She also “strongly supports access to abortion and birth control” and encourages the “development of reasonable ‘red flag laws’ and safe gun storage assistance to protect communities from gun violence.”

Byrne, Tracy Face Off in Republican Primary for Conservative State House District

Bigfork, Ferndale, Woods Bay, Dayton, Big Arm, Swan Lake – View map here

Tracy Sharp (R)

Republican House candidate Tracy Sharp is running for office to protect Montanans from “a failed Federal government” that, according to Sharp, has “erased our southern border” and “imposed overt and clandestine censorship.” Sharp was raised in northwest Montana, graduating from school in Hot Springs before enlisting in the Air Force. After earning a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University, Sharp served in the military where he served in two tours in the Middle East, among other service. He is currently the chair of the Lake County Republican Central Committee. Sharp told the Beacon he wants to return power to the states, which he sees as “the last bulwark of protection from excessive authoritarianism emanating from Washington D.C.” The candidate hopes address taxation and inflation, undocumented immigration, Flathead Lake water levels and what he described as “surveillance stalking” by governments and organizations.

Barry Olson (D)

Candidate did not respond to inquiries from the Beacon and does not have a publicly available campaign page.

(email protected)

Correction: This story previously included the incorrect number of Democrats and Republicans in the 2023 Legislature.

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