Havre Daily News
Sen. Ken “Kim” Hansen, the Democrat incumbent for state Senate District 17, will face a friend on the ballot in the Nov. 7 election.
Richard Cronk, a Republican from Chinook, filed for Hansen's seat on Wednesday. The district covers Blaine County north of Highway 2 and most of Hill County, excluding the southeastern corner.
The deadline for candidates to file for the general election was Thursday at 5 p.m.
Hill County voters likely will not have any difficult choices come November, as incumbents will run unopposed in all but one county race. The sole newcomer, who's also unopposed, is Democrat Patricia Childs, who filed Thursday for the public administrator seat.
In state legislative races, voters will choose between Hansen and Cronk. They also will decide the House District 33 race between Havre firefighter and Democratic incumbent Bob Bergren and Republican Havre City Council member Terry Schend. Democrat incumbents Jonathan Windy Boy of Rocky Boy and John Musgrove of Havre are running unopposed.
Hansen said he has known Cronk for many years and is excited about the competition.
“It's not like I am really tickled to run against him, but let's get it on,” Hansen said. “I respect him and am anxious to meet him on the campaign trail and debate the issues.”
Cronk said his run for the office is not personal. He said he believes the public should have options on the ballot. He said he's always wanted to run for office and finally has the time since he retired from ranching. Cronk has not run for office before.
Hansen said he wants to finish what he started during his first term. He said the state has moved forward drastically and he wants to continue with the trend and participate in the forthcoming discussion of new ideas.
Cronk said he believes the economic development on the Hi-Line has been due in part to the actions of the Republican Party and he wants to be involved with the progress. He said he considers himself a “pretty moderate Republican.”
Hansen said one of his major concerns is the methamphetatmine problem in Montana, which he considers a -pound gorilla the state needs to get ahold of.”
He said the state needs to work on informing the public about how dangerous the drug can be. Hansen said the Montana Meth Project, a series of anti-meth advertisements are graphic, “but that's how that life is.”
Cronk said meth is definitely one of the largest problems that needs to be addressed but he does not know of an easy solution.
“The best way is to keep people from using meth the first time,” he said today.
Cronk said users should be sent to treatment and distributors should serve jail time.
Hansen said he is unsure if more law enforcement officers is the answer to the meth problem, but defintely wants to ensure that local agencies have enough funding.
Hansen said he wants to stiffen laws for people involved with meth labs and make laws more specific so the burden of clean up and disposal of the lab equipment does not go to the landlord of the residence.
He said the awareness of the meth issue is growing.
“People used to think ‘It's your problem not mine,' but it's everybody's problem,” Hansen said.
Cronk said he is concerned about transportation in the area, especially the stretch of U.S. Highway 2 between Fort Belknap and Havre.
“I have friends who have lost their lives on that road due to poor design,” he said.
Hansen said another item on the top of his to-do list is energy and the push for biodiesel and ethanol.
He said he wants to work to lower rail rates for transporting grain and prevent any possible closure of the Big Sandy spur line south of Havre.
Cronk said he is pleased with job training at Montana State University-Northern and wants to help support and expand the programs there.
He said he has been involved with his community by serving on the school board and the Blaine County fair board.