Four local Democratic candidates stressed the need to create jobs, including by continuing to fund and support Montana State University - Northern, during the next session of the state Legislature.
Rep. Bob Bergren-D-Havre, who is facing Republican Rowlie Hutton in the race for the seat in Senate District 17 in Hill and Blaine counties; Democrat Dana Sapp Seidel, who faces Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, in her bid for re-election to House District 24 in Hill and Blaine counties; and Democrat Jack Trethewey, who faces Republican Kristin Hansen in the race for House District 33 in Hill County, toured the Bioenergy Innovation and Testing Center Friday as part of the state Democratic Party’s Job Opportunity and Business Strength tour touting the party’s plans for future job creation.
They were joined by Democrat James “Jim” Catt, who faces independent Jeff LaVoi in the race for Hill County commissioner.
Seidel said she is an example for the need for Northern and programs like Havre’s branch of the Montana University System. She came to Northern while the mother of two young children to earn her two-year degree in nursing, then returned to earn her bachelor’s, Seidel said.
“If Northern hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t have a degree right now,” she said.
Jessica Windy Boy, director of the bioenergy center, said many people from the area come to Northern to complete their education, and most stay to work in the area.
“That’s why it’s paramount that the funding keep coming in, from all the sources, the feds, the states, the grants,” Bergren said.
Windy Boy said students in the programs were working co-op jobs over the summer paying more than $22 an hour, she said.
Catt, Bergren, Seidel and Trethewey all stressed the importance of keeping Northern strong and working to provide training to local people who want to stay in the area and in Montana. Work such as what is happening at the bioenergy center is an example of that, Bergren said.
“We’re appreciative of having this here,” he said. “And also the huge ties it has to agriculture, to the ag-based economy on the whole Hi-Line.”