By Tim Leeds
Bob Bergren said today he will file for election as a Democrat in the House district now represented by Merlin Wolery.
Bergren said his interest in and experience with the Legislature will help him if he is elected.
"I've always been interested in the process and followed it," said Bergren, a Democrat from Havre. "Last session I was allowed to go down and lobby for the state Firefighters Association."
Bergren said he lived in Helena for four months and learned a lot in the process. He said that experience and his other experience in business and in different organizations will help him represent the district better than Wolery, R-Rudyard.
Wolery, a farmer elected to represent HD 90 in 2000, is seeking a second two-year term.
"I've been involved in the labor movement, retail and trade organizations. That will give me a better perspective than my opponent," Bergren said. "It allows me to represent a larger part of the constituents."
Bergren, a 16-year veteran of the Havre Fire Department, also owns and operates Julie's Hallmark with his wife, Julie Bergren, in the Holiday Village Shopping Center. His family has farmed in the area since 1910, and he has helped his father operate a farm near Havre for about 10 years.
Bergren lists economic development, energy and education as areas he would focus on if elected. One action he supports is the effort to widen U.S. Highway 2 to four lanes.
A main focus of economic development should be helping existing businesses grow, instead of focusing on bringing in new businesses from outside of Montana, he said. Bringing in new businesses is good, but, "We need to look at a way to shore up the businesses we have," he said.
Bergren said energy deregulation is a failure, hurting consumers with higher prices and the state because of jobs lost. He wants to find ways to make energy prices more affordable and stable.
Bergren said he doesn't know what will be the best action to take to stabilize energy, but he has some ideas. A state purchase of generators at dams is one possibility, but he said he needs to research that more. He said he supports the initiative going on the ballot to repeal House Bill 474, a bill dealing with Montana energy passed in the final days of the 2001 Legislature. He said HB 474 had some good sections, but most parts need to be renegotiated.
"It was all done with liability going to the consumer and none to the (energy) companies," Bergren said.
Bergren's third main concern is education. He said some kind of stable funding has to be found, although he doesn't know yet what those sources would be. He will be researching some permanent funding sources, he said.
Bergren, who was on the Havre City Council from 1994-1996, is on the executive boards of the Montana State Firefighters Association and the AFL-CIO, is president of the local chapter of International Association of Firefighters, and a member of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. He is a member of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, Montana Retail Association and the Holiday Village Mall Retail Association.