By Martin J. Kidston
Havres Ward 1 election showdown should be a thrill to watch for political insiders as the democratic stronghold is challenged by GOP aggressor John McLain, Sr.
As McLain poses his challenge and makes his October run for the Ward 1 seat, Democrat Doug Larson will try to hold ground and keep his party in place.
But no matter who wins this years general election, both candidates will watch as the Democratic incumbent resigns his seat, leaving an open spot on the council bench. Its that open spot the new candidates want, and voters will decide who shall rule the citys first ward come Election Day.
McLain, a Havre native and small business owner, said he wants to make Havres economic development his top priority. He said the road to economic development lies in making the city of Havre look a little more attractive on the outside. As for the inside, he said continuing to develop the infrastructure was important. Thus, if the city were able to attract new businesses, it could handle it, he said.
Setting development aside, the Republican candidate takes up the issue of tourism. He said he would like to see the areas tourism industry draw bigger crowds and capitalize on its local attractions.
We have some good spots, McLain said. Id like to build them up. Theres a lot of things here that people would visit, if they knew about them.
McLain, who has a background in financing, and who has held a seat on the Chamber of Commerce board for the past three years, said hes on top of the issues. He says he would like to look into peoples interests, so to cultivate them, and get people more active in the community.
Its just communication, he said.
McLain said everyone should take a turn at running city government. He said hes invested in Havre, and has the citys best interests at heart.
I like everything about Havre, McLain said. But we sure could use a little more economy.
McLain has a wife, three kids and several grandchildren. Family aside, he explained his political philosophy as generally Republican.
Times change, McLain said. Maybe its time for a change in Havre.
And while McLain and his fellow Republicans vie to take seats on the city council, the Democrats hope to maintain their dominance. Ward 1 candidate Doug Larson is among them, and hopes to win his election to the Ward 1 seat.
Larson, a science teacher at Havre High School since 1976, said he will use his problem-solving skills to help lead the city into the next millennium.
Looking to Havres future, Larson said, its important to keep the city growing, and to maintain the citys infrastructure to support that future growth.
Im interested in making sure Havre stays healthy and keeps growing, Larson said. And I think we should continue to help develop the tourism industry. I think thats important.
Larson named the areas four biggest attractions, and said they were unique to the area, and could be used to promote the citys economy. Whats more, he said he thinks the city should do more to work with local businesses.
I think we need to work with our businesses, Larson said. We also need to promote trade with Canada, and see what we can do to help make the 24-hour boarder crossing a reality.
Economy and trade aside, Larson said the city should continue to provide activities for local youth. He specified high school students who are not involved in sports, and said its important they, too, have activities to get involved with.
Larson, who is married and has two kids, graduated from Havre High School and earned both his BA and MA from Northern Montana College.