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Tranel, Lamb debate in Mineral County

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | September 21, 2022 12:00 AM

On Wednesday at noon in the county commissioner’s office 2 candidates running for the U.S. House to represent Montana's western congressional district held a debate with about two dozen attendees.

Libertarian candidate John Lamb is a farmer from Norris and father of 12 children. Lamb has said he is running to represent Montana in Congress to “limit government overreach and spending.” His other policy priorities included investigating corrupt politicians and elected officials, opposing abortion and taxes, and supporting the First and Second Amendments. Democrat Monica Tranel says she is running for Congress because the Montana that she grew up in is slipping away. She feels that Montana should not be a playground for the rich, while folks in the middle can’t get ahead no matter how hard they work.

Tranel lives in Missoula with her husband and their three daughters.

Republican candidate Ryan Zinke was absent, but his office reported that he had scheduled a prior obligation to be in Libby a few weeks before he knew about the debate.

When asked about their plan to tackle rising housing prices, Lamb shared a story of an elderly man that he barely knew who was priced out of his home living on $40 a month in SNAPS (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and $700 in social security. That man is living on Lamb's property rent free hoping to get back on his feet.

Tiny House subdivisions and restoring, rather than demolishing, mobile home parks will help tremendously, he said.

Tranel is angry that Montanans are being priced out of their homes and communities. She said Congress must prevent private equity and hedge fund corporations from manipulating the housing market. She said Congress can use legislation to address predatory entities who rent out second homes and push hard working locals out of their own communities. Tranel also encouraged the audience to read her Working Families Affordability Plan on her website, monicatranel.com

The Mineral County Resource Coalition has been upset with the PILT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) of 72 cents an acre where Ravalli County receives $2.56 per acre. Tranel said she was aware of this difference and feels a totally new formula needs to be developed for balancing population, private/public lands and the economic structure.

Lamb admitted he wasn’t as familiar with PILT as he would like to be, but was dismayed when he heard of the variance and agreed that this replacement of taxable property needs to be overhauled.

The never-ending disagreement of where the Idaho and Montana border was introduced to them as this would add much needed revenue to Mineral County and both took notes to see what they can do to help end this decades long dispute. When asked if they favor corner crossings on properties that angle into public land and if this impacts private property rights, both Lamn and Tranel said they are deep defenders of private property but both also felt that crossing from public land to public land at a corner should be allowable.

Asked if they felt drones should be allowed over private property, both said no. Tranel made mention that there are no federal laws of flying a drone over private property as the FAA only regulates airspace above 400 feet, but it’s not the Montana way of working with your neighbors, she said.

The closing question was, “Who is one of your Montana heros?” and Lamb said it was Randy Weaver. He met and discussed Ruby Ridge with him one time and felt the government was in the wrong, but after the visit, he felt it was criminal.

Mike Mansfield was Tranel’s choice because of his human decency and ability to work through issues without party affiliation

The next debate is at 5 p.m. Sept. 23 at City Hall in Whitefish and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

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