Great Falls Rising invited all the legislative candidates in Cascade County to fill out our survey, which consisted of the questions in our 2022 Voter’s Guide. This is the first survey sent back to us. Nick Henry is a Democrat candidate for HD 22.
1. What policies would you enact in Helena 2023 to ensure the safety from gun violence of all Montanans, from school children to citizens in public spaces?
As this is the first question asked of me, I believe it important to mention that my own personal views are just those, and my role as a legislature is one of representation. I cannot always vote the way that my 10,000 constituents want, but I will explain why I voted the way I did. That being said…
Regardless of the personal beliefs we each may have about Constitutional Law and Interpretation, the 2nd Amendment is a big deal. Although I differ from both my conservative and liberal cousins over solutions to this issue, I will not attempt to place the blame or legislation on firearms.
Gun violence tends to either be related to mental health or substance abuse; and reactionary in nature. I believe Montana needs a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse strategy for its citizens. I believe that there should be incentives, and not laws, for more voluntary and temporary surrendering of firearms under certain circumstances.
If we tackle the underlying causes as tenaciously as some of us have gone after “firearms” I believe we can seriously scale back gun violence.
Other solutions could be found through voluntary means, and I do agree with things like gun locks, because I do not believe that infringes on a person’s right to own a firearm.
I also believe there could be other Creative Solutions to limit these numbers of things without infringing on said right.
I believe that strict rules at school concerning single entry points are proven deterrents to shootings and should certainly be encouraged before, say, armed patrol in schools.
2. What is your position on white supremacist hate groups like the ones who have posted “White Lives Matter” stickers in Downtown Great Falls?
Hate groups are clearly a threat, and we must never become ignorant of their potential. These groups do not go away when ignored, and incorporate into mainstream.
Around 20 to 30 years ago these groups were often too afraid to show their faces in public, but that has changed. An empathetic person, knowing how something is perceived, cannot claim ignorance if harm comes to someone else. There are quite a few Confederate Flags flown around Great Falls from youth on upward and to assume that some of those individuals aren’t doing it for a “rise” is equally naïve.
As is the trend in many things, by toning down certain rhetoric, many of these groups operate under different names, and often very patriotic-sounding titles, giving the illusion of a peace-loving American organization. For example, members of the “Patriot Front” in northern Idaho were arrested this year in route to a Pride Parade with riot gear and shields. Although this was not directed at a group in a “racist” way, it was undoubtedly spurred on by hatred and the desire to inflict harm a particular group. A group that is still stigmatized in some of the laws we see passed around the state under the ruse of “religious freedom”. Ignorance and bigotry, should also be incorporated into this argument.
Some Supreme Court decisions have allowed prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan for terrorist activity although the fact that the KKK has yet to be mutually agreed upon by law enforcement as a Terrorist organization in and of itself is enough proof that the threat of white supremacy is still not being taken as seriously as it should be.
3. What do you believe is the role of climate change in jeopardizing Montanans’ Constitutionally-guaranteed right to a “clean and healthful environment”?
In Montana we have the good fortune of our State Constitution which has curbed, locally, many of the issues that the larger society in conservation and environmental as a whole has dealt with. Sadly this gives us the illusion here in Montana that much of the fallout from climate change simply isn’t happening. Often we confuse the weather with climate and surprisingly most every now believes in Climate Change, but still refuse to concede that people, and our habits, have much of a contribution to it.
We must not let down our guard when it comes to this part of our constitution, and we must make sure that these issues remain center to our way of life.
4. What threats do you see to our public school system, and how would you address those threats?
Our Public School system has been under threat for decades. In a time when more “standardized education” has become the norm due to unnecessary and arbitrary deadlines, the role of a teacher is at risk of becoming standardized itself. Compound this with a lack of funding, perhaps a misallocation of it, the value placed on athletics over academics, funding for related services, school violence, it is no surprise that some groups want to see public school fail completely.
We cannot expect more from something of which we take so much away. From class-size to classroom materials to the actual way and when we combat violence in schools. We are setting public education up for failure with ignorant legislation and budgeting, and it is us to blame and not the educators for that.
5. Do you believe Montana currently holds free and fair elections? If not, what evidence do you have of Montana voter fraud or election irregularity?
After the 2016 elections and the backlash towards the fears over Russian meddling across the board our 2020 elections were probably the most fair and safest they’ve ever been. Many people rely on mail-in ballots, are unable to get off of work and travel, etc. There have been loud voices declaring many “what-ifs” and “yeah-buts”, at yet not a single shred of evidence that there was actually voter fraud. It is another attempt to erode our Democracy and instill a fear into people that can easily be steered towards even more dangerous avenues.
Those most successful after the 2020 election here in Great Falls are also those spreading the most concern about “voter-fraud”, as if actual integrity was not their sole concern, but rather raw voter suppression.
The fact that Recreational Marijuana passed with the numbers that it did, means that particular issue goes beyond political parties and that a diverse group of Montanans indeed supported it. “Voter Integrity” is just another ruse to keep people from voting that probably won’t vote for the person you want them to. Unless we admit we agree with poll taxation, any requirement we demand of a citizen to exercise their right to vote, must also be supplied to them.
Voting should be FREE and FAIR.
6. Do you believe all Montanans should be forced to purchase their energy from a single company? If so, what should Montanans expect in return for this monopoly privilege? How would you hold the Public Service Commission accountable for its responsibility to protect your constituents as ratepayers?
Competition is the backbone for all free-market economies. An industry controlled by a single entity (private or government) is dangerous. I would never support monopolization of an industry anymore than I would support the government control of one. Also, with the rise and availability of home power production, appreciation for local sustainability in many facets, we could very well see the rise of an “internet” of interconnected power plants capable of not only supplying the power needs of a large area but also countering rising costs by increasing the supply of the commodity and thus helping to lower prices for all of us.
7. Do you support the right to privacy for all healthcare decisions?
Absolutely. Anything less than this is gross government overreach.
8. Do you feel we need a Constitutional Convention to overhaul the 1972 Montana State Constitution, and if so, why?
Not at all, our State Constitution is the Gold Standard for state constitutions, and unless we are willing to agree that Montana is no longer the “Last Best Place” we should never consider overhauling any part of it. So much of it is critical and tied into our culture and way of life in Montana that to begin changing part of it, is akin to pulling a loose string on a shirt or blanket and wondering why it starts to fall apart.
9. What incentives would you advocate for increasing the adoption of consumer and commercial solar, wind, and geothermal power generation?
I believe with home-based solar and wind power system, and some homes collecting more power for the grid than they actually use, that those individuals who choose to do so, should be given compensation, at the market rate, for the power they supply the rest of us with. Now, some have argued that we should continue doing tax break incentives but at the end of the year that tax money is still needed somewhere else, therefore I believe the compensation should be seriously considered.
10. What strategies would you employ at the state level to ensure that the allotment of wild game hunting tags remains open and fair to Montana taxpayers?
I believe that when it comes down to change and sacrifices made to help curb existing issues we have in Montana regarding wildlife management, it should fall first on non-resident hunters. That is not to say that I believe Non-Resident hunting should be limited or eliminated, but rather that if a change is suggested, whether it be a “choose your own weapon” tag system, or a shorter hunting season, perhaps non-Montana residents should be the first to experiment with that approach. A wild idea, what if the non-resident hunting season in Montana were simply divided in half, and those with guided hunts (typically on private land) would be in the first half, and those without (typically on public land) went the 2nd half. This MAY encouraged pressure on private land more so early on in the season and counter some pressure from public lands, which would be strictly Montana residents in the first couple of weeks. If this does occur, elk hunting in some of these problem areas may see more diverse populations early on, with greater competitive hunting in the later season on public lands, as well as a decrease in elk populated in isolated private land in the winter.
This is just one of many ideas and conversations that should be had.
(Campaign photo from Nick Henry for HD 22.)
Categories: Montana Legislature