Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
Democrat John Parker, minority leader in the state House of Representatives, stopped in Havre Monday as the first stop in a week-long campaign swing for state attorney general. “I think we have a shared vision to make Montana a safer place,” Parker told a group of about 10 supporters who met him in the Oxford Billiard Parlor Monday night. Parker, 36, said in an interview he will be on the road this week to Shelby, Helena, Missoula, Whi tef ish and Kalispell to continue his campaign. He will finish the week Friday giving a presentation to judges and members of the Supreme Court at the State District Judge Convention at Chico Hot Springs, he said. He faces Democrats Steve Bullock, a Helena attorney and former deputy state attorney general and Bozeman attorney Mike Wheat, a former state senator and former deputy county attorney, in the primary in June. Parker, a Great Falls native and graduate of Whitefish High School, received his bachelor's degree in international politcs from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and his law degree from the University of Montana in 1999. He is a Cascade County deputy county attorney in Great Falls, and is serving his third term in the state House of Representatives. His wife, Carrie Parker, is a second- grade teacher in Great Falls. He said he believes the work he has done as a deputy county attorney and as a legislator have made running for attorney general a natural progression. That is something many of his colleagues have pushed for, he added. “I’ve been working in this direction for many years and I want to continue,” he said. Parker said he has worked Closely with the Havre-area legislators in the past on issues ranging from agricultural legislation to econonic development, and looks forward to continuing to work with them if he is elected as the state’s highest law enforcement officer. The attorney general proposes a package of laws every legislative session and relies on the legislature to pass them, he said. He has an long list of endorsements, including Havre Rep. Bob Bergren, Box Elder Rep, Jonathan Windy Boy and Sen. Ken Hansen of Harlem, and a list of other legislators and people from around the state. Other endorsements have come from Assistant Attorney General John Connor, Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher, Cascade County Attorney Brant Light, other members of the Cascade County Attorney’s Office and members of the Cascade County law enforcement and other government offices. “We need (Parker) on the Land Board, ” Rep. John Musgrove of Havre said during the campaign stop Monday night. The state attorney general is one of the five members of the Montana Land Board, which oversees the management and revenue generation of the state’s school trust land. Parker said he would work to preserve Montana’s hunting and fishing heritage as a member of the Land Board, and would work to learn the complex issues facing the board, which include grazing and farming leases, timber-harvesting leases, leases for oil, gas, and mining operations, easements for projects like power lines, roads and private driveways and fees for recreational use. Parker, who said that as a deputy county attorney he has prosecuted cases ranging from speeding tickets to homicides, arson to robberies and child abuse to sex offense cases, said he will make fighting methamphetamine in the state a high priority if elected. “(Meth is) a toxic time bomb” that threatens housing, hurts children and affects every aspect of Montana’s communities, Parker said. He helped pass legislation cracking down on methamphetamine, Parker said, including increased penalties on meth lab operators and granting jurisdiction and then funding for drug treatment courts. The state needs to pursue a full range of options in fighting meth, including vigorous apprehension and investigation of violent drug dealers and effective rehabilitation of low-risk addicts, he said. “We’re making headway in these areas, but there’s still more work to be done,” he said. Another priority he will pursue if elected is consumer protection. Parker said he carried legislation two sessions ago making the state Consumer Protection Office part of the Attorney General’s Office. Previously it was a standalone office with two-and-a-half fulltime employees, he said. “You get a better bang for the buck” putting that in the hands of seasoned litigators and prosecutors, he said. “The initial results have been very promising and I want to continue that,” Parker said. Another issue Parker said he will work on is improving the capability of the state criminal justice system to deal with people with mental health issues, better integrating them into communities and allowing them to continue their treatment. “It’s cheaper and more humane than incarceration,” he said, adding that many people with mental health problems end up in prison when they probably shouldn’t be there.