By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Political newcomer Christy Keto is challenging Havre City Council member Emily Mayer Lossing, a Democrat, for her Ward 4 seat in Tuesday's general election.
Keto, a marketing supervisor for the Triangle Telephone and Hill County Electric cooperatives with a degree in business administration, said she would like to use her background in business to help the city run more efficiently.
"I feel like the City Council's customers are the residents of their ward," said Keto, who is running as an independent. She added that the city has to provide services at the right price.
Keto, 31, said the most pressing issue facing the city is the budget crunch and labor negotiations with the three unions that represent city employees. She said the city should work at improving energy efficiency to cut down on energy costs and, in light of the 45 percent health insurance premium increase this year, should look into the possibility of a different insurance policy.
Keto also said she supports streamlining the negotiations process so that all city employees are paying the same rates for health insurance.
Streamlined negotiations should not come at the expense of unhappy workers, though, she said.
"You have to have happy employees to have a well-run business," Keto said.
Mayer Lossing is a part-time personnel clerk for Hill County and a part-time manager of the H. Earl Clack Museum. She also serves for free as the Havre historic preservation officer.
She said the city's last resort is to cut services, but that it may eventually happen.
"Unless we get some real growth in the area or the Legislature gets more generous to cities and counties, everyone's going to be feeling the pain the next time around," she said.
Mayer Lossing, 31, said one of the most important things the city needs to do is improve infrastructure, giving special attention to the Havre City-County Airport and the east end of town.
She said that when CEOs of companies come to visit Havre as a possible place to set up shop, they often fly in.
"That's the first image they get of Havre is a dilapidated, ugly, in-need-of-a-lot-of-work terminal building," she said. "We need to take care of that."
She said that whenever there is a big storm, streets and basements on the east end flood. The drainage system under the street is big enough, she said, but there need to be bigger grates or more of them.
"We need to get those folks relief, and that means businesses and private homeowners," Mayer Lossing said. She said flooding is a communitywide problem and the topography of the east end means it get hits the hardest.
Mayer Lossing also said she would like to see the pothole-riddled roads on the east end fixed.
"It's deplorable and it's unacceptable," she said of the condition of the roads there.
Mayer Lossing said she will work with the mayor, the Montana Department of Transportation and state legislators to find a permanent solution to these infrastructure problems, but in the end, she said, the city will have to budget for them.
Keto said she is not campaigning on specific issues, and that so far the people in her ward have not told her specific things they want changed. "I'm doing this basically because I want to do my part to help the city," she said.
One thing the mother of two said she would like the city to do is to continue trying to provide productive things for children in the community to do. She said the skateboard park, the increasing popularity of youth soccer and the construction of the Havre Ice Dome are examples of past successes, and that the city should continue to develop similar opportunities.
She also said she supports building a multipurpose center in Havre.
"If we don't have the facilities to hold the tournaments and things like that, we need to get going on that," she said.
Keto was born in Milton, Fla., where her father was stationed in the Navy. When she was 4, her parents, both Montana natives, moved to Havre. Keto attended elementary school and middle school in Havre. She graduated from Butte High School in 1990. She attended Montana State University-Northern and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1994.
After graduation, Keto began working in sales and customer service at Triangle Telephone. She became marketing supervisor four years ago.
She was married in 1990. Now divorced, she has two sons, ages 10 and 12.
Keto is the vice president of United Way of Hill County and serves on the Montana Telecommunications Access Program Committee, a statewide committee appointed by Gov. Judy Martz.
She is a member of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee and a youth soccer coach. She has also served as a board member of the Northern Alumni Association and as a Cub Scout leader.
Mayer Lossing was born in Havre in 1972. She attended Havre schools and graduated from Havre High School in 1990. After graduating she worked a variety of jobs in Havre, including restaurant hostess, bank teller and an assistant manager at House of Fabrics.
Mayer Lossing, a member of the Hill County Democratic Party, was first elected to the City Council in 1995. She worked as a field organizer for Sen. Max Baucus' re-election campaign in 1996, and has worked on numerous campaigns in Montana since then. She has been Democratic Women's Club president since 1997. From 1994 to 1999 she served as a precinctwoman for the Hill County Democratic Central Committee.
In 1997 Mayer Lossing enrolled in Montana State University-Northern and graduated in 1999 with an associate degree in business administration.
She worked as a receptionist for a local attorney, in administrative support for the College of Nursing at MSU-N, and as a tour guide at Havre Beneath the Streets before being hired to manage the Clack Museum in 2002. She was hired by Hill County later that year.
She married Lyle Lossing in 1996.
Mayer Lossing is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street Task Force, the Fort Assinniboine Preservation Association, and the Old Forts Trail historic group.
She has previously served as a Clack Foundation board member and a member of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce board. She was a member of the Community Tourism Assessment Team in 1997, and a member of Child Development Inc., a group that helped get housing from the old Havre air base to Highland Park, from 1998 to 2000.
In 1999 the Montana Jaycees awarded Mayer Lossing the 1999 Young Montanan award for her activities in tourism, historic preservation and local government.
Mayer Lossing listed contributions of $300 since Sept. 25 in her campaign finance reports. That includes $100 from the Hill County Democratic Women's Club, $50 from Rep. John Musgrove, D-Havre, $100 of her own money, and $50 in individual contributions of less than $35 each.
Keto listed no contributions in her campaign finance reports. Candidates who indicate they expect the total amount of contributions and expenditures to be less than $500 are not required to itemize the contributions they receive unless they exceed $500.