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PSC chair warns of GOP takeover

 

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PSC chair warns of GOP takeover

John Kelleher

Greg Jergeson admits that it's hard for the public to get passionate about the Montana Public Service Commission.

"It's a relatively obscure position," he said.

But the Chinook Democrat, long a fixture in Hi-Line politics, is retiring from the commission after eight years due to term limits. And he is passionate about who should succeed him.

Democrats control the commission 4 to 1, but two Democratic seats are up for election on Nov. 2.

If Republicans take control, Brad Molnar, now the commission's lone Republican, will likely become chairman.

Jergeson said he fears Molnar's ultraconservative views.

"Brad Molnar works very hard, but he's got some dreadfully bad ideas," Jergeson told Hill County Democrats at their Harvest Dinner Saturday night. "He pursues those bad ideas with great zeal."

To prevent Molnar from taking charge, voters in District 1, the sprawling district that runs from Toole County to North Dakota, should elect former Sen. Don Ryan, D-Great Falls, Jergeson said. Ryan is opposed by Travis Kavulla of Great Falls, who Jergeson said was recruited to run by Molnar.

Jergeson said commissioners have to deal with complex issues and make decisions based on the law.

Molnar, he predicted, would make decisions based on politics.

That will result in lawsuits.

"Courts will decide what utility rates will be," he said.

He said Republicans forced through energy deregulation in the late 1990s, and the state was in crisis by 2001 "and everything was going to hell."

Republicans in the state Legislature had "that deer-in-the-headlights panic," Jergeson said.

Molnar authored a recovery plan that would have involved the state borrowing $900 million and imposing new taxes.

"All these conservatives are always saying they are against big government and deficit spending and deficit," Jergeson said. "But this is what they wanted to do."

Ryan, then on the Senate Energy Committee, led the effort to defeat the GOP plan, he said.

Putting Ryan on the commission, Jergeson said, would prevent Molnar from winning a majority, he said.

On another topic, Jergeson said he will be leaving Helena after nearly 30 years of service. He served in the state Senate for 22 years before moving to the Public Service Commission. He said he plans to take some time off, but would not rule out further political ventures.

Greg Jergeson admits that it's hard for the public to get passionate about the Montana Public Service Commission.

"It's a relatively obscure position," he said.

But the Chinook Democrat, long a fixture in Hi-Line politics, is retiring from the commission after eight years due to term limits. And he is passionate about who should succeed him.

Democrats control the commission 4 to 1, but two Democratic seats are up for election on Nov. 2.

If Republicans take control, Brad Molnar, now the commission's lone Republican, will likely become chairman.

Jergeson said he fears Molnar's ultraconservative views.

"Brad Molnar works very hard, but he's got some dreadfully bad ideas," Jergeson told Hill County Democrats at their Harvest Dinner Saturday night. "He pursues those bad ideas with great zeal."

To prevent Molnar from taking charge, voters in District 1, the sprawling district that runs from Toole County to North Dakota, should elect former Sen. Don Ryan, D-Great Falls, Jergeson said. Ryan is opposed by Travis Kavulla of Great Falls, who Jergeson said was recruited to run by Molnar.

Jergeson said commissioners have to deal with complex issues and make decisions based on the law.

Molnar, he predicted, would make decisions based on politics.

That will result in lawsuits.

"Courts will decide what utility rates will be," he said.

He said Republicans forced through energy deregulation in the late 1990s, and the state was in crisis by 2001 "and everything was going to hell."

Republicans in the state Legislature had "that deer-in-the-headlights panic," Jergeson said.

Molnar authored a recovery plan that would have involved the state borrowing $900 million and imposing new taxes.

"All these conservatives are always saying they are against big government and deficit spending and deficit," Jergeson said. "But this is what they wanted to do."

Ryan, then on the Senate Energy Committee, led the effort to defeat the GOP plan, he said.

Putting Ryan on the commission, Jergeson said, would prevent Molnar from winning a majority, he said.

On another topic, Jergeson said he will be leaving Helena after nearly 30 years of service. He served in the state Senate for 22 years before moving to the Public Service Commission. He said he plans to take some time off, but would not rule out further political ventures.

 
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