Following weeks of national controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A restaurants and its CEO’s political views, city councilman Rick Dow and the rest of Havre City Council’s Republicans offered their two cents at Monday night’s meeting.
Toward the end of the meeting’s public comment section, Dow read out a letter addressed to the CEO, Dan Cathy, inviting the restaurant to Havre.
“Greetings from the elected leaders of the City of Havre Montana. We would like to extend an invitation to you to explore the possibility of opening your first Montana restaurant in our great city, ” Dow’s letter says. “Havre is a friendly place with many hardworking citizens, which would be a perfect fit for your company and its Operators. ”
After reading the letter he offered any council members, and Mayor Tim Solomon, the letter to sign, to show their support.
The four Republicans on the council signed the letter: Rick Dow, Brian Barrows, Robert Kaftan and Andrew Brekke. The four Democrats and Democratic Mayor Tim Solomon did not sign.
Dow said he wanted to counter the objectionable behavior of other cities that are pushing against Chick-fil-A after Cathy’s expression of support for groups fighting against marriage equality.
And Brekke agrees.
“I don’t have an opinion on that matter (gay marriage) at all, but I don’t think any city should be making a decision about a business based on the views of the owner, ” Brekke said. “The controversy gives us an opportunity to present ourselves as open to a business opening in Havre.
“There’s nothing wrong with making the offer. ”
Democratic council member Bonnie Parenteau understands the economic benefit, but is not as eager to get involved in an as-yet remote controversy.
“I have no problem with Chick-fil-A coming to Havre, if they thought they could make it here, ” Parenteau said this morning. “Any business in Havre is good for Havre, but I don’t think the controversy surrounding them would help us. I just don’t think we need any of that. ”
She also wondered how much of the letter was merely Dow trying to get reactions out of people.
“Is he just trying to pick a fight? ” Parenteau asked. “Is that just an ornery way to make everybody mad? I don’t know. Why is he so obstinate? ”
Barrows stuck to the economic potential.
“One of the reasons I ran for City Council was to try to bring more industry, more diversity to our economy, ” Barrows said. “Any time we can get another service in this community it’s going to help everybody, more jobs for the community, more money that turns over in the community.
“We lost Wendy’s. That was an impact on our local economy so I want to bring something back in. ”
He also reiterated a point Dow made at the meeting, that, for the price of a stamp, it can’t hurt to just send the letter even if nothing comes from it.
Solomon and councilman Gerry Veis had no comment on the letter.
This is the total letter:
Mr. Dan Cathy
Chief Executive Officer
5200 Buffington Road
Atlanta, GA 30349
Dear Mr. Cathy,
Greetings from the elected leaders of the City of Havre Montana. We would like to extend an invitation to you to explore the possibility of opening your first Montana restaurant in our great city. Havre is a friendly place with many hardworking citizens, which would be a perfect fit for your company and its Operators.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards and thank you for your time,
Brian Barrows Rick Dow
Andrew Brekke Robert Kaftan
Council President Councilman