By Ron VandenBoom
Merlin Wolery, a north Rudyard farmer and rancher, has thrown his hat in the ring as a Republican candidate for House District 90.
Incumbent Antoinette "Toni" Hagener, D-Havre, currently holds the seat.
In making the announcement, Wolery said he sees Montana's agricultural economy and educational funding as the main problems facing the state.
"I see the ag economy as a real problem for this area and the greater area," he said.
He sees the problem as both a national and a world problem and he is not sure there is anything that can be done about it on the local level.
"But I can certainly contribute to some benefit, I believe," he said. "Somehow we have to get more money into the farmers' hands and CRP is certainly not the answer, because those dollars don't turn over in the community."
Educational funding is also high on Wolery's priority list as he sees declining enrollment in local schools.
"All of our schools have declining enrollment which really hits the local schools," he said. "That's going to be a big problem trying to keep those going."
Wolery notes that funding and enrollment go hand-in-hand and as the youth leave the area funding declines.
Wolery has served for 11 years as trustee and chairman of the Blue Sky School District and also represents western Hill County on Liberty County Hospital and Nursing Home Board of Advisors. He has been a Hill County First Responder for 15 years and currently serves as president of the Milk River Branch 8899 Lutheran Brotherhood for Hill, Blaine and Phillips counties.
This will be the first time Wolery has run for elective office.
He said that he has been interested in politics for a long time and believed that now was a good time to give it a try.
"I have the time to do this job and I will take the time to do it," he said. "I'm going to work real hard to get to know a lot of the Havre people ..."
Wolery and his wife, Patricia, have two children, Trevor and Heather, and is a third generation farmer and rancher.
"I'm going to run on my strengths and what I can do," he said.