The Roundup -

House Candidates Debate


When House District 35 Republican candidates Joel Krautter and Scott Staffanson took part in the candidates’ forum sponsored by the Girard Homemakers on Thursday night, infrastructure funding was again an issue.

Staffanson voted against House Bill 416, which included infrastructure funding, at the end of the last legislative session. Krautter said he feels the bill needed to pass for oil-impacted communities.

“Even though it was a bad bill, it would have brought up to $10 million here,” Krautter said.

Staffanson introduced himself as someone with a strong agricultural background who understands agriculture issues.

He was disappointed that the Montana Farm Bureau Federation endorsed Krautter instead of himself.

“It’s bizarre. I’ve been a Farm Bureau member forever,” Staffanson said.

He explained why he opposed some bills that Farm Bureau supported during the last legislative session. One of the bills would have taken money away from coyote predator control and put it into mountain lion predator control. He said he opposed only seven of Farm Bureau’s 90 bills.

“I’m for agriculture. I’m a property owner,” Staffanson said.

He said during the last legislative session, a small group of Republicans kept voting with Gov. Bullock. “I’m not going to stand with those Republicans,” Staffanson said. “I will try to work with them. I’m proud to be a Republican.”

Krautter, who is an attorney in Sidney, says he sees the most important areas as infrastructure, agriculture, economic development and the education system.

“We need to build coalitions to get things done for eastern Montana,” Krautter said.

Regarding the state’s high drug and suicide rates, Krautter noted, “If we’re pro-life, it’s not just conception. It’s areas where we can help people. We can’t ignore these problems.”

Staffanson agreed that drugs and suicide are serious issues in the state. He said one problem is that taxpayers’ money provides welfare checks and some of the money pay for drugs. He wants required drug testing for welfare recipients.

The two candidates disagreed about starting a sales tax in Montana.

“I think it would be great if the state can reduce other taxes,” Staffanson said.

Krautter is concerned about adding another tax. “They are always looking at one more way to tax us. Government always wants to grow.”


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