The race for House District 71 will go all the way to November’s general election this year as another Republican and Independent file for office.
Robert Kennedy, a Republican from Cameron filed for office last week making it a three-way primary race for HD 71.
Kennedy joins fellow challenger and Republican Ray Shaw and incumbent Republican Bob Wagner, who is seeking his third term as representative.
The deadline to file for statewide and county office was March 12. Local school board candidates have until March 29 to file.
Kennedy, 73, and his wife Doreen retired to the Madison Valley eight years ago from South Carolina. He was born in New York and retired from a career in engineering services. He has never run for nor held public office.
But as a Republican he has a lot of concerns about the direction of the country and the fact that nobody seems to be doing anything about it, Kennedy said.
His primary concern is the economy and its impact on the constituents in HD 71.
“Many people have lost their jobs,” he said. “Businesses have closed and there’s simply no work in the area.”
His primary idea for helping change the situation locally is to work on vocational education and training. The right kind of training and education could help the people in HD 71 find jobs and careers in new fields and advance in their current position, Kennedy said.
“If you don’t have any education you’re not going to get the better jobs,” he said.
Kennedy is also concerned about the semi-truck traffic on Montana Highway 84 between Norris and Four Corners. He’d like to see the truck length and weight limited on the highway for safety concerns.
“The road is too small for that big traffic,” he said.
During his career, Kennedy had to work with a variety of people in the course of his work. This experience and skill will help him as a state representative. As will his ability to give time and effort to the job.
“Since I’m retired, I have plenty of time to try and do what we need to do,” he said.
He is looking forward to spending time around the district talking to citizens and finding out their concerns and needs.
Kim Miller of Virginia City also filed for HD 71 last week as an Independent. Miller, 50, ran as a Democrat against Wagner in 2008, but decided to go to the effort to file as an Independent this time because she values aspects of both the Democratic and Republican Parties and as an Independent she’ll be able to focus on the needs of her constituents rather than some party ideology.
“I know I can represent the district,” Miller said. “I’m not representing any party ideology but just the district itself.”
Too often Democrats and Republicans focus so much effort on each other, they forget to represent their constituents, she said.
“Over the last four years, the political parties have just split to the extent that there’s just gridlock,” Miller said. “No one seems to be working together they just seem to be going on their party lines and I don’t see that helping any constituents, period.”
Miller identifies with what she says are Montana values: family, hunting and fishing and being fiscally conservative and responsible.
Miller currently runs a fiber arts business in Virginia City and has recently worked as an artist in resident with schools in Madison County. She used to work as a grant writer and social worker for Madison County, before retiring six years ago.
To file as an Independent, Miller had to collect signatures from nearly 200 voters in HD 71. She and her supporters rallied a group of volunteers who collected 250 signatures in two days.
Miller expressed her appreciation at the early support she’s had and the volunteers who helped her collect signatures.
“I was really impressed with what took place over two days,” she said.
Her next order of business is to begin talking with people around Madison County.
“I think it’s up to me now over the next few months to talk to voters of District 71 and see what their concerns are,” Miller said.