Loge, French vie to be House District 14 legislator

by Monte Turner
Mineral Independent | May 20, 2020 4:34 PM

House District 14 in Montana encompasses a gigantic chunk of real estate, from from Eastern Plains to Lookout Pass. Then, St. Regis to Western Missoula. Evaro Hill to Valley Creek onward to Dixon. Then Camas Prairie to Hot Springs and Lone Pine.

Two Repubican candidates are seeking the seat, which will likely be decided in the June 2 primary, being done only by mail-in ballot.

Both incumbent Denley Loge and challenger Mark French were asked the same questions in an effort to get a better idea of where they stand on certain issues.

DENLEY LOGE

1. How does your background qualify you for the role of state representative?

I am a rancher and small timberland owner which are the backbone businesses of western Montana. I also have 45 years experience working on road building and maintenance for both the private and public sector. I have two terms as State Representative for House District 14, serving on the Business and Labor committee, Fish and Game committee, and Transportation committee, being the present chairman. I have also been involved in community and state committees and boards. They currently include Mineral and Sanders County collaboratives, Mineral County Resource Advisory Committee, Region 2 FWP Citizens Advisory Committee, Montana Private Lands/Public Wildlife Council, Mineral County Planning Board, Mineral County Performing Arts Council. This involvement shows I care about our region and try to get a pulse of our communities.

2. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing our state, and what would

you do to address that issue?

Within the last two months, we have changed gears on pressing issues. Covid-19 has brought our economy and health safety to the top of the issue list. We need to get our economy back in gear but we still have to respect the seriousness of the pandemic. It is important to be building our economy from the private sector and not by continually infusing government money but we also have to realize there is still no cure for the virus and there are still many unknowns about the spread and lack of easily recognizable symptoms. If citizens follow the health guidelines as set out and with some self monitoring, we can open up and get rolling again but also knowing we will have a new normal in the way we do business.

3. How do you feel about how the state is allocating its money? Could the Legislature better prioritize state spending, and how?

Prioritizing state spending is always a bone of contention. Everyone has their own idea of what is important for them so they need to keep in mind that their priority my not be your neighbors. The legislature is required to balance the budget. Think of your home budget, sometimes you would like to have a new car but the roof started leaking. Do you buy the new car and leave the leak, hoping it won’t ruin your rafters or walls or do you prioritize your budget to fix the roof and get by with the car until you can afford it. This is similar to the prioritization of state spending. Each session the legislature must be flexible as conditions or needs of the infrastructure, health, safety, education, and all departments change from year to year. It would be nice to put money out to fulfill everyone’s needs but without an endless pot of money, I feel the flexible biennial assessment of priorities is working. Accountability of each departments spending is important and I feel that can always be improved.

4. When it comes to our National Forests and public land, share your thoughts of balancing timber harvest and recreation with environmental concerns.

As a timber owner, timber harvest is very important to me as a means of keeping a healthy forest. Being a farmer, timber is a renewable crop that has a 125-250 year rotation. If not managed by thinning, logging and fire, it can become unhealthy and useless for production, habitat, and recreation. On my own property, there are areas that are very good for timber production and some areas are not suitable for great timber production, watershed protection is a concern, habitat is important for both wildlife and livestock, erosion concerns dictate some of my recreation activities, and visuals come into play when I do some rock or gravel excavation. I feel on public land, all of these same concerns are the same. I feel the National forests needs to find the balance to adapt to all the same concerns. For example, in sensitive areas that provide good timber, some temporary roads can get the timber out to still provide good animal security and habitat or protect visuals. In other areas, the logging roads can add to the recreation opportunities of motorized both winter and summer. Some areas are not suitable for timber production but provide great opportunities such as hiking and fishing. We now have some better technology for responsible resource extraction which should be used for protection of the environment and still allow mining. There is a need to find the balance between all the concerns as well as provide for the economic concerns of the communities.

5. How do you assess the state’s and Gov. Bullock’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you begin to ensure our economy bounces back from measures such as temporarily closing non-essential businesses?

From a medical standpoint, I feel the reaction to the pandemic was not an over reaction. The blame game goes on but the facts are without any change in our social actions, the spread of the virus could have been and still could go spiraling out of control. I am not sure the decision of essential vs. non-essential businesses were laid out as I would have laid out but now that is second guessing and is in the history book. As I stated before, if we all follow the health guidelines and realize the virus still exists, the phased reopening will can get us into our new normal.

MARK FRENCH

1. How does your background qualify you for the role of state representative?

My Great Grandparents settled in Montana. I have been a farmer/rancher, a small business owner, licensed medical professional, and property developer. I graduated from Montana State University – Bozeman and attended Duke University Medical School. I have been married for 33 years and helped God and my wife raise five productive children. I have personally defended or assisted in several issues in District Court, and found success with a case in the Montana Supreme Court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Political Parties can now endorse Judge candidates, giving the voter more information about the candidate. One case (French vs. Jones) was heard on emergency order at the U.S. Supreme Court. I have a direct interest in seeing the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct rewritten to provide more transparency on Judicial disciplinary action for some of our less than honorable judges. Currently a gag order exists for judicial complaints against judges. The people of Montana need to see these complaints. I have been active in bringing this issue to light. I was arrested by Federal Rangers as a hardened fugitive one beautiful Summer day and ripped from my family while enjoying Glacier Park. This was a “Mistaken Identify” due to gross lack of

attention to detail by elected County officials and the Rangers. I know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of the law, provoking me to work on correcting the process. My years of Medical Laboratory Quality Assurance and strict attention to detail are essential. County judges and Rangers should not be immune, allowing no real recourse. This travesty is not uncommon. We drafted, and testified on several bills in the 2019 Legislative Session on this and other issues. I encourage you: Montana Code can be changed by common people. I have worked for years on basic moral and Constitutional principles of Government. I want to help Montanans thrive under less surveillance, fewer regulations, and a lesser tax burden.

2. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing our state, and what would you do to address that issue?

Acutely, this Covid phenomenon seems to have changed basic American principles and Liberties. This is having and will have profound effects on basic life. As time passes, we are asking ourselves questions about the handling of something like Covid. Interesting questions like electronic tracking and forced vaccinations are being discussed. The adjustments made in response to the Covid phenomenon require stewards attentive to lawful constitutional and moral principles. There is no better place to address these issues than peacefully in the Houses of Government. Leaders need to solve problems there so they don’t spill into the streets. Awareness of Medicine, attention to detail and being mindful of the Constitution are necessary attributes for current leadership.

Money and morality. By the end of the year, Montana may have significant funding issues. We, the state, have been collecting the Coal Tax for decades. It is in a trust fund for a rainy day. We do not need to increase taxes on the people. Use the Coal Tax money to offset state deficits until we see stability post Covid.

We simply need honest leaders who are not in it for self-gain, but to serve our posterity. I have placed God and Country above self.

3. How do you feel about how the state is allocating its money? Could the Legislature better prioritize state spending, and how?

“Needs” and “wants” are two different sides of the coin. Focus on state infrastructure. Spend money only on things we all use: roads, bridges, firefighting, etc. The more responsibilities we can shift to the private sector, the better we will be. Market forces are key to America’s success. Competition increases quality and ingenuity; and decreases price. Creating different classes of people through special treatment only causes animosity between groups. I seek fairness, honesty and equal treatment under the Law.

4. When it comes to our National Forests and public land, share your thoughts of balancing timber harvest and recreation with environmental concerns.

We have the technology to harvest timber while being good stewards of the environment. We should harvest what we “need” not what we “want”. People need jobs and forest products. In properly harvesting forest products, the forest’s needs are considered. It is a symbiotic relationship. Billions of board feet of timber are grown each year in Montana’s forests, and the forests need to be maintained for future generations. I have serious questions about intentionally setting the forest on fire prior to removing the good usable wood products and then spending millions on fire suppression on the same project. This wreaks of irresponsibility.

5. How do you assess the state’s and Gov. Bullock’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? How would you begin to ensure our economy bounces back from measures such as temporarily closing non-essential businesses?

As a medical scientist with moderate virology training, I watched the covid develop in China and find it’s way to the USA. In defense of the Governor, my first response was caution also, making myself available to authorities to help. However, as I watched covid develop in comparison to our normal yearly flu and “elective” disease death numbers like alcohol and smoking, I discovered the official models were way overestimated. Shutting down America was not warranted apart from possibly the Elderly and immunocompromised. Therefore, in hindsight our response was way overdone. The unknown has become somewhat known and we must stop the overreaction NOW before we destroy ourselves. There were 38 flu deaths in 2017-18 in Montana. There have been 16 deaths from Corona virus in the 2019-20 season. In defense of the Governor we error on the side of caution and we live and learn. Keep in mind what we have learned and allow Montana to go back to normal life. Some small businesses are hanging by a thread. Go patronize them! Stop the stimulus checks and bail outs. America is hemorrhaging. Provide tax relief. It is worth mentioning: South Dakota did not force shutdowns and have experienced relatively low Covid deaths in comparison to their routine flu deaths. Their approach seemed to encourage wise personal responsibility instead of top down shutdowns. As medical professionals we adjusted and were ready. However, we have seen the medical community set idle to the point of furloughing employees, while dismissing opportunity for generating revenue with regular services. It seemed small businesses were forced to close while large corporate big box stores stayed open and even thrived during

the shutdown. We need courageous Constitution conscious leaders that operate on science and facts and can discern when some may choose to take advantage of a vulnerable situation as we learn and move forward. The models have been proven inaccurate, we seem to be toning down our overreaction. We need to make sure we have learned from this. Touch is essential. Stop distancing and hug someone? We all need it!

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LOGE