I'd like to respond to the letter presented to your readership by Mr. Bennett (Opinion page, Oct. 12). If we are to take what Mr. Bennett says at face value, then we have to assume that Speaker of the House Bob Bergren was singularly the most powerful person in the last session of the Montana Legislature. For that reason alone, we should want Bob Bergren to continue to represent us, this time in Senate District 17.
I know the legislative process, and I'd like to present a more realistic view than did Mr. Bennett.
The Montana House of Representatives led by Bob Bergren was equally divided 50-50, and the Senate had a Republican majority lead by President Bob Story. The reality of those facts is that any legislation that Speaker Bergren wanted to succeed in passing had to be approved by Republicans. Speaker Bergren worked to build consensus to achieve our goals. When consensus didn't take place, Bob worked for compromise. Speaker Bergren reached across the aisle to the other party. He worked effectively with President Story for good legislation. Sometimes this meant opposing the wishes of the governor because Bob Bergren believes that the separation of powers is a cornerstone of a strong democracy.
Speaker Bergren protected our university here at Northern. He worked to make sure that Milk River users had an organization in place to ensure water in our future.
I'm not sure that Bob is the great politician that Mr. Bennett proclaims, but Speaker Bob Bergren is one of the finest legislators with whom I have worked, and I know some very fine legislators in both parties. We need consensus builders. We need someone who works well with others. We must be sure that Bob Bergren will be our next senator for Senate District 17.
(John Musgrove is Hill County Democratic chair and a former member of the Montana House of Representatives.)