State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder is running for another four-year term as the state senator from District 16.
He is challenged in Tuesday's Democratic primary by the man he beat four years ago, Frank Smith of Poplar.
The winner Tuesday will be unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election.
Age : 53
Family: Single, seven siblings, daughter Jennifer, 26, two granddaughters, Jenuine Ry’Lynn, 9, and Jazmine Rose, 8.
Education: Graduated from Box Elder High School in 1976, co-captain of the state champion cross country team. Telecom-munications degree.
Occupation: Small business owner of a family-owned business, Windy Boy Enterprises LLC; Chippewa Cree Tribe's legislative government affairs adviser; and current senator, SD 16.
Political experience: Served as an elected tribal councilman for the Chippewa Cree Tribe for 12 years (1998-2010), two years as the Chippewa Cree Tribe's vice chairman, six years in the Montana House Of Representatives (2002-2008), current senator for SD 16.
Community service: Assisted with local activities. Formed a local Chippewa Cree Tribe Youth Council, consisting of high school students from Rocky Boy, Box Elder and Havre high schools. Assisted local tribal members with assistance for food, gas and other basic needs.
Smith: I graduated from Poplar High School in 1961, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1964, where I spent five years. After discharge, I started seven different businesses, spent five years on the Fort Peck Tribal Council, eight years in Montana House of Repre-sentatives and four years in the Montana Senate.
I am a widower of eight years. I have four children — three girls and one boy — and eight grandchildren. They are all in Montana.
I served on Northeast Montana Hospital Advisory Board in the 1970s. I served with the Poplar Ambulance in the 1970s and 1980s, and I have been on the Fort Peck Boys & Girls Club board the last 16 years.
1. What are the major issues you see confronting the 2013 legislative session?
Windy Boy: There are many issues the state can take care of. I have always been a staunch advocate for health and human services, not only as a legislator but as a tribal leader. In the last session, I got Senate Joint Resolution 30 passed: A joint resolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the state of Montana requesting an interim study of ways to reduce childhood health trauma and its long-term effect on children. These issues go on unaddressed ... Montana needs to help.
What can the state do to help local jurisdictions cope with and profit from the oil boom? The economic boom will be huge from the Bakken formation. The impact on the local level will see varying effects, from increase in money and resources from the oil companies and the influx of migrant workers working in the oil field industry. With this comes the increased need to make our communities a safe environment to live in. State policies need to be implemented that support local governments and municipalities to do whatever they need to make the resources available to provide this environment. An example on the impacts the Bakken formation did in North Dakota: A study was done, in Newtown, N.D., last fall showed there were approximately 2,600 semi trucks going through the streets on a daily basis. The crime rate has dramatically increased over the past few years, which is why a concerted effort of resources will be needed to support local communities.
Smith: I believe some of the major issues confronting the 2013 legislative session, will be as follows, but not in this order:
Convincing all the legislators that we really don’t have the surplus that is told to us. If we have a surplus we should have our retirement programs fully funded, our schools should be fully funded, we should be prepared for the cutbacks in federal funding such as impact aid for schools, Medicare, Medicaid, highway funding, fires and many other programs that the Legislature has been overlooking for many years.
2. It appears that the state will have a rather substantial surplus at the end of 2012. What would you like to see done with that money? Tax cuts? spending? If spending, in what area?
Windy Boy: I always supported the existing governor's decision to implement a rainy day fund, which is how the existing surplus came to be. Money was saved for a rainy day. When previous governors had budget deficits since the 1980s. Just because there's money there don't mean we need to spend it. If spending needs to happen, then it should be provided to provide services to those who are the most vulnerable population.
Smith: I still don’t know where the surplus is. I am not in favor of giving back the extra money until we truly balance it and at that time take a close look at it so we don’t spend to much and leave us in a deficit and have to increase taxes to make up for it like we have had to do in the past.
3. What should Montana do to improve education, high school and secondary as well as college?
Windy Boy: Provide friendly policies and opportunities to encourage good-paying jobs for graduating students, so they can stay in-state and make the workforce stronger rather than them having to leave the state for higher pay and benefits. The state also needs to provide dual enrollments for four-year college institutions to accept the transfer of all credits in the curricula in community colleges as well as the tribal colleges. Continue the opportunity for high school students to take college credits while they're still in high school, so the adjustment to college will be easier. Implement local standards that fit the state rather than having to use the standards nationally that's required by federal law.
(Editor's note: Smith did not address this question.)
4. What should the state do to bring more jobs to Montana? Should environmental laws be loosened? Should taxes be lowered?
Windy Boy: Policies need to be implemented to be more business friendly, and to do that, some things do need to be changed. If environmental laws need to be changed, make sure disasters like the defunct Zortman/Landusky mines don't happen again. During the last session, a business equipment tax was implemented. We need to take another look at that to make sure if it worked or not. If it did, we need to build on it. If it didn't work, we need to revisit it and implement the changes so it will work.
Smith: I believe some of the major issues confronting the 2013 legislative session, will be as followsm but not in this order:
Convincing all the legislators that we really don’t have the surplus that is told to us. If we have a surplus we should have our retirement programs fully funded, our schools should be fully funded, we should be prepared for the cutbacks in federal funding such as impact aid for schools, Medicare, Medicaid, highway funding, fires, and many other programs that the legislature has been overlooking for many years.
5. Some of the highest poverty areas in the state are on Native American reservations. What should the state do to improve the situation on reservations?
Windy Boy: Currently, the state does not recognize the unemployment rates on reservations. If the statewide rate will increase. so, there is a need to review the policies and build upon the existing laws to encourage a friendly climate on the reservations.
This governor has implemented cigarette and gas revenue sharing agreements that has helped some, but more needs to be done. The state also uses the numbers from the reservations to go after federal grants the state is eligible for. The state also needs to report to the tribes and allow the tribal governments to review and have input on the reports they send to the federal departments they have to report back to. I also got a law passed during my first legislative session to notify the tribes if the state implements a policy that affects the tribes. The state delivers an annual report, which is helpful. With anything, there's always room for improvements.
Smith: I agree with you that there is high poverty on the reservations, but it hasn’t been because of choice, it is because the reservations have been left out of so many programs such as colleges — we were last to get them.
Courts — we didn’t have them until the last 55 years, and we were always under the control of federal courts. The BIA still holds a heavy hand in what tribes do. The reservations would have more industry if it wasn’t for the government setting the rules and causing so much time to pass before a decision is made and running of prospective investees.
And also being put on land that is not very productive.