POLSON - The two men seeking the Republican nomination to take on Democratic State Rep. John Fleming in House District 12 next November have similar reasons for running, but very different notions of what they hope to accomplish if elected.
Ronan-area farmer Daniel R. Salomon calls himself a proponent of education, agriculture and natural resource development who is pro-life.
He's running, he says, because "I've been in a lot of different organizations and served on a number of community boards, and it got to the point that I thought I could make a difference" in Helena.
Polson businessman John Swenson says he'll work to protect state sovereignty from "the overreaching hand of the federal government." He opposes spending federal stimulus money, and says "the biggest issue" facing the state is "Local Agenda 21 and the United Nations."
Swenson says he filed because "I've done enough complaining, it's time to stand up."
Both men are seeking elective office for the first time.
"I'm for stopping the federal government infringing on state sovereignty," Swenson says, "and Local Agenda 21 is one of the tools they use to infringe on it. I've been advised not to talk about it by Republican party people. They say I'll be labeled a conspiracy theorist, but I don't care what anyone labels me, it's not a theory when it's proven to be true."
Agenda 21 is a United Nations program involving sustainable development, offering a blueprint for global, national and local actions concerning human effects on the environment.
Swenson calls it a "program of population control" and says it's another example of "the federal government operating outside of the Constitution. The Earth God the United Nations answers to is not the same God I answer to."
Montana should also refuse federal stimulus money, Swenson says.
"If you want to be a sovereign state, you shouldn't accept it," he says. "How you make that up, I don't know, but we shouldn't be selling our children into servitude. There's no place to go once you accept it. It allows us to not be frugal. There'll be no more stimulus checks unless we print more money, which devalues the wealth of everyone."
Salomon says the state budget will "unquestionably" dominate the 2011 legislative session.
"Everything will revolve around that," Salomon says. "I'll be a strong proponent of education, because I believe children are our future, and the better educated they are, the better chance they'll have of being good productive citizens."
The farmer says he'll always keep the interests of those in the agriculture business in mind too, because "it's so important to Montana. (The business itself is) kind of changing because of the economy, and our markets go throughout the world now."
Salomon says natural resource development is a key to the state's economy, and says "farmers, ranchers and loggers are the best environmentalists around. When you make your living off the land, you know if you don't do a good job your job won't be there."
Both candidates agree property taxes are a big issue in their district, where appraisals skyrocketed for some homeowners.
"It's huge," Salomon says. "Nobody likes taxes but they at least need to be fair, and those weren't. It's something that needs to be addressed. The Department of Revenue has ways to correct things, but homeowners have to come forth and challenge them. I'm more of a ‘why-didn't-we-do-it-right-the-first-time' person."
Swenson says part of the problem is that "the federal government controls 28 million acres of Montana, and gives the state $27.5 million in what's called ‘payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. ' "
"That's a dollar an acre," he goes on, "and that land doesn't create jobs or support taxes." Swenson called for a defeat of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which he said "takes even more acreage out of production."
The primary election is June 8.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at email@example.com.