Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Kier says he wants to find solutions to problems


October 25, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

Grant Kier of Missoula, a Democrat running for Congress, speaks Saturday during the Hill County Democrats' Pasma-Peck Dinner fundraiser.

A desire to help bring people together to find solutions to problems that face Montana is what Grant Kier said drove him to run to unseat U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., in next year's election.

Kier, a Democrat from Missoula and former executive director of the Five Valley Land Trust, said in an interview Saturday that many Montanans don't feel they are being well-represented in Washington, D.C.

"What I am finding on the campaign trail is that most folks are looking for bridge builders and people who want to sit down with folks, treat them with respect, look them in the eye and solve real problems and be practical about it," Kier said.

The campaign is Kier's first for public office. He will face Billings consumer protection attorney John Heenan and state Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, in June's Democratic primary. The winner will go up against Gianforte in the general election.

Kier, 42, was born in Kansas but moved to Colorado with his family when he was 1. He graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a Master of Science in geology. After graduation, he worked in geophysics and engineering. He said his work included assessing the integrity of roads, rail lines, tunnels and other infrastructure throughout North America and Europe.

Kier and his wife, Becks, a teacher and scientist at the University of Montana, have an 8-year-old daughter.

For the last 12 years, Kier has worked for land trusts, nonprofit organizations that work to conserve land, natural resources and public access, while respecting the private property rights of land owners.

His experience working for land trusts, he said, shows he can work across the urban-rural divide.

Kier said he also has experience working on issues related to farm policy from his time as chair and later executive director of the Montana Association of Land Trusts. He said he worked with agriculture producers, members of Montana's congressional delegation and the Obama administration to implement policy in the 2014 Farm Bill on the ground in Montana.

"That is the experience I have first-hand on seeing how laws are implemented in ways that help Montanans, and that is some of the work that got me excited about running for Congress," Kier said.

He added that infrastructure, expanded access to broadband internet and ensuring that students in public schools are ready to compete in a global economy are issues that are important to rural Montana

As he campaigns across Montana, Kier said, people tell him that they do not want the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to be replaced or repealed.

"What I am hearing from folks is that they don't want some big partisan debate," he said. "They want some fixes right now to make the Affordable Care Act stronger."

He added that people have told him they would not be alive without Obamacare and rural hospital administrators tell him they might have to shut down if it is repealed.

Kier said he does not think Democrats should be debating a single-payer health care system right now, The focus, he said, should instead be on lowering costs and increased price transparency.

The tax cuts and tax reform proposed by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans is now little more than a soundbite, Kier said, but based on what is known he opposes it because it would benefit the wealthy and not working people or people of lesser means.

Forest management, Kier said, is most effective when it is specific to a certain site and based on sound science.

Kier said he has managed forest property as a conservationist. He said there is a place for cutting trees and sending them to mills, but any plan should be backed up by sound science to ensure there is a proper balance of forest thinning and preservation.

He added that he thinks it is important to acknowledge that there were fires on grasslands and in forests throughout Montana, and the cause of those fires was extreme drought. He said going forward, if the issues of extreme weather and preparation for such conditions are not addressed, there will be more catastrophes.


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