By Ron VandenBoom
Lt. Gov. Judy Martz, Republican candidate for governor, told more than 50 people at the North Central Montana Pachyderm Club Friday that families, the economy, less government, and creating a future for Montana's children are the four "guiding principles" of her campaign.
Martz, who seemed not to mind having to use a propane tank and an overturned cardboard box for a podium, said that leaders who are guided by a core set of values may have to make changes.
Her strongest core value, she said, is that families come first and that every piece of legislation that come across her desk, if she's elected governor, will be judged by whether it is good for Montana families. And what's good for Montana families, according to Martz, is her second core value -- Montana should be open for business, including already existing resource-based businesses.
Martz promised that she would not run and hide very time "some high society, out-of-state person comes in and accuses us of destroying the land near their vacation home."
"I don't think those people have any place coming into town and telling us, the hard working people of this state, how we ought to do our business," she said. "Our resource providers have a rich and proud heritage in this state and it's about time we stop vilifying them and start recognizing that they are the true stewards of our precious land."
Martz noted that Montanans need to be able to mine and need to be able to do it environmentally safe.
After the meeting, Martz elaborated, explaining that federal mandates that "lock us out of our lands" can cause issues like mining and timber to become a dead issue.
"We are getting executive order on our lives," she said. "They don't know how we live, they don't care how we live, they want to run our lives. ... We're not being included in that part of the conversation right now and that, I think, is totally wrong. We need to be part of the process."
"Equally important, we need to seek new businesses."
Martz said she would work very hard to seek venture capital for Montana, adding that she is going to craft a comprehensive strategy for attracting new businesses into the state.
"And then I'm going to lead delegations of local employers and workers on searches for new companies and jobs," she said.
Martz also promised to work to improve Montana's infrastructure and access to "the information highway." She told the crowd that only 21.5 percent of Montana households have access to the Internet, adding that she will help bring high-speed Internet access to the state.
"I'm going to make electronic commerce an obtainable objective for all our Montana communities," she said.
Martz said her third core principle is that government works for the people and people don't work for the government.
"Government is over-taxing us," she said, "government is over-regulating us and government is, by far, underestimating us."
She explained that small business, farms, and families have been paying too much in taxes to fund government.
"I'm here to tell you, enough is enough," she said. "I've always believed that the best way we can improve the lives of the people who sign the back of a paycheck is to make it easier for the people who sign the front of a paycheck to do business."
Martz would not say how she stood on the issue of a sales tax, stating emphatically that she's "not running on a sales tax," and referring to it as a "moot issue." She did say that the only way she would ever support sales tax is if the state got rid of either the income tax or property tax.
After the meeting, she elaborated only to say that when it was proposed years ago she didn't think it was a "wrong idea. ... But it's got to be a tax that benefits you and benefits me, that benefits our kids, and the right one has never been proposed yet."
Martz believes achieving the first three of her core principles will achieve the fourth core principle, Montana's kids deserve a promising future.
"What is done today has to be done for future generations," she said, noting that it has become increasingly difficult for kids to realize the American dream.