By Ron VandenBoom
Another candidate has thrown her hat into the ring in the race for a new mayor for Havre.
County Commissioner, Doug Kaercher, announced to his fellow Democrats during their monthly meeting Tuesday that Roberta Demarest, a former Democratic candidate for state representative, had filed with the Hill County Clerk and Recorder Monday to run as a Democrat for the mayor's job.
Demarest ran an unsuccessful primary campaign against Rep. John Musgrove for the House District 91 seat in the Montana Legislature last year.
Demarest will be running against former Havre Police Chief Mike Shortell, who made his candidacy official during the April meeting of the Democratic Central Committee. They will face off in the primary election Sept. 6.
Future elections were also on the mind of Democrats last night when former Rep. Ray Peck reported on the events of a recent preliminary meeting to the Democratic Party's Executive Board meeting coming in June.
Attorney General Mike McGrath served as chairman for the meeting that Peck said consisted of about 60 Democrats.
"The big issue was deregulation," Peck said, noting that it is easy to lay blame, especially considering 96 percent of the Republicans voted in favor of deregulation and voted down six major pieces of Democratic legislation that would have addressed the energy crisis issue during this legislative session.
But why the Republicans have been successful during the last eight years in thwarting Democratic legislation and winning substantial majorities is the real question the meeting addressed.
"Republicans have been highly successful in defining the Democrats," Peck told the crowd.
Peck said the Republicans have been able to convert Democratic position on issues like human rights to the issue of gay rights. They have also succeeded in taking Democratic concerns for the environment and using that to attack working people involved in the timber industry.
Peck also said the Democrats have never been successful in making the connection between big business and the Republican Party.
"And the Republican Party has given about 75 percent of the tax breaks in the last three sessions to business," Peck said.
"You didn't get a tax break, did you," Peck asked. "Ask a businessman if they got their tax break and if they're honest, they'll tell you."
The Republicans have also been successful turning the education issue into a political plus, Peck said.
Peck explained that the governor will recommend a small figure for education such as $11 million and through the course of the session increase that amount to $31 million.
"By starting at the $11 million and going to $31 million they look very good," Peck said, noting that the $31 million is still about $11 million shy of what K-12 really needed. "Start low and come up and you look very good."
Republicans can also say that they didn't agree with the Democratic figures, but because they listened to the Democrats and were sympathetic with their concerns they increased the funding, he said.
The bottom line, Peck told the crowd, is where do we go from here and how do we get there.
Peck said a change in leadership is one of the solutions that was discussed at the meeting.