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Four face off in Montana Senate District 16 Democratic primary: Jestin Dupree

 

Jestin Dupree

In the race for Montana Senate District 16 that runs from Chouteau to Roosevelt counties and includes parts of Rocky Boy's, Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian reservations, Jestin Dupree of Poplar faces Kristopher FourStar of Wolf Point and Rep. Bridget Smith, who cannot run for re-election to the House due to term limits, and Mike Fox of Hays in the Democratic primary.

FourStar did not respond to requests for an interview.

No candidates from other parties have filed in the race and the winner of the primary is likely to be unopposed in the general election.

Dupree said he thinks it was time for him to serve.

"I am running for this office because I feel like I am at the age where I have enough experience to where I can represent people of northeastern Montana and along the Hi-Line," Dupree said.

He said in his biography he served in the U.S. Army from 1998-2014 years as an infantryman with a tour in Bosnia, one in Afghanistan and three in Iraq. He was a senior noncommissioned officer when he was medically retired and served as a tribal police officer in Poplar from 2014-15.

He said he also has experience from serving on the Fort Peck tribal council and on the Poplar school district, where he was elected to each in 2017 and still serves.

He said he doesn't know if he's the best candidate because anyone can run for public office, but finds it to be a noble thing to do for someone to volunteer their time and to take time out of their lives to put efforts forward.

"Hats off to anyone running for office," he said.

He said he wouldn't have done anything different to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the state has handled it well.

"There is nothing I would do different - from the state all the way to local and tribal. I think everything was handled in the best way, it was good," Dupree said. "I mean, it's kind of hard to plan for a God-foreseen deal, but I really think everything was handled properly and as best as they could."

The state is likely to see significantly lower revenues when the next session convenes, he said, and he would deal with this like anything else in being flexible and work with what someone has.

Dupree is on the Poplar school board, he said, and from his experience there, in terms of funding it is hard to pinpoint what areas of emphasis that he would feel would be important in the Senate.

 "I just understand it's quite a big district and it covers three Indian reservations, and again I'm just looking forward to the challenge," he said.

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Born and raised in Poplar, 40 years old

Served 16 years as infantryman in U.S. Army, medically retired

Some college

Tribal police officer in Poplar; sergeant-at-arms for the Fort Peck Tribal Council

Council member for the Fort Peck Tribes, Poplar School Board member

 

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