Havre Daily News
Bear Paw Credit Union executive vice president Gerry Veis said today he filed for the Ward 1 race in the Havre City Council election because he wants to be involved in keeping Havre moving in a positive direction.
"The main reason I decided to run was to help out and contribute to the community as best I can," Veis said. "The most important issue, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, ... is to better the community as a whole," he said. Veis said that he would work to continue improvements begun by Havre Mayor Bob Rice and current and former City Council members.
Veis, a Democrat, lost in the 2003 primary election to current Ward 1 council member and mayoral candidate Pam Hillery. He will again face a primary contest on Sept. 13, this time against fellow Democrat David Brewer. The two arevying for the seat held by Dana West, who is not seeking re-election. No Republican filed for the Ward 1 seat, so the winner of the Democratic primary will face no opposition in the Nov. 8 general election.
Veis said that, if elected, he would work to improve communication both within city government and in the way Havre relates to other entities in Hill County.
"We need to be adults and accept that other people might have different opinions than us," Veis said.
Separations created by political parties in city government end up working against what should be a common goal of public service, he said. Veis also said local governments in Hill County need to work more closely with Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.
"They're just as much a part of Hill County as us," he said. More work is needed to ensure that city, county and tribal governments and officials work together for the benefit of all, he said.
Veis added that city officials need to work more closely with the Havre Daily News and encourage the newspaper to cover more of the positive aspects of Havre and Hill County.
"The paper has a tendency to ... sensationalize" issues that aren't as important as some of the good things that happen in the community, he said.
The North Central/Rocky Boy's Regional Water System and the St. Mary Diversion rehabilitation are two large projects that city officials need to make informed decisions about, Veis said.
The City Council decided to pay a good-intent fee of $21,000 to have a engineering firm study the costs of Havre joining the Rocky Boy's water system, which will bring water treated at Lake Elwell to about 18,000 residents on the reservation and in communities across seven counties. Bear Paw Development Corp. official Annmarie Robinson, who is coordinating the project, said today that the engineering report should be available in about 10 days.
The St. Mary Diversion is an aging system of canal structures that transports water from the St. Mary River to the Milk River. It is badly in need of repairs, which are estimated to cost more than $100 million.
"Any time there's a situation that may help better the community, we need to take a look at it," Veis said of the two projects. He said he wants to see more information on the Rocky Boy's project, and the city needs to be proactive in helping to secure federal funding for the St. Mary Diversion repairs.
The First Street reconstruction project, a Montana Department of Transportation undertaking that will commence in the spring of 2007, is an important undertaking that will affect the whole community, Veis said. It will take at least two summers to complete and cost between $17 million and $20 million.
Veis said Havreites and local business owners need to work together and realize that there will be problems associated with the project. In the end, the work - which involves street and sidewalk replacement, landscaping, beautification and the replacement of water and sewer lines - will be a good thing for Havre, he added. Everyone needs to work together to ease through the transition, he said.
He serves on the Havre Day Activity Center board and the East End Rehabilitation board. In the past, Veis has served on the Havre school board and the Montana State University-Northern alumni and foundation boards.