Meyers, Windy Boy face off in rematch for House District 32: G. Bruce Meyers
Last updated 10/6/2020 at 11:41am
Former Rep. G. Bruce Meyers, R-Box Elder, is challenging Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, in Windy Boy's race for re-election, in a rematch of the 2018 election for a seat both candidates have held.
Windy Boy served in the Montana House of Representatives from 2003 to 2008, then ran for the Senate, defeating Democratic Sen. Frank Smith in his bid for re-election. He beat Smith again in a race for that seat in 2012.
Meyers ran for the House seat in 2014, defeating incumbent Rep. Clarena Brockie, D-Harlem.
In 2016, with Windy Boy termed out of the Senate, Windy Boy ran unopposed for the House seat while Meyers challenged Smith, who again was running for the Senate. Smith won that race.
In 2018, Meyers made an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Windy Boy in his bid for re-election, with Windy Boy winning that race.
The district stretches from northeastern Chouteau County and southeastern Hill County through southern Blaine County and Phillips County and includes Rocky Boy's and Fort Belknap Indian reservations.
Meyers said he thinks that the state could have used input from the local people a lot more when making decisions such as the mask mandate in handling COVID-19.
"I think they underestimated the local backlash on the mandate and Montanans are pretty
independent, self-thinkers, they are pretty quiet till you rile them up, but if you involve people from the get-go and the beginning that people would be much more immutable and willing to listen to issues concerning COVID," Meyers said. "That's not to say that downplay the seriousness of COVID, a very deadly virus, it is, but I think the state could've gotten a more input from the local people."
To shut down a whole county based on four cases, he said the people he is hearing from are saying is it a little bit of government overreach.
He said he thinks that nobody has the complete answer for how and what policies to control COVID.
Nobody has a solution, he said, adding that nobody has a cure.
"While there is no vaccination for COVID-19 yet and the medical professionals have no cure, we do need to protect our most vulnerable," he said.
He said his 91-year-old neighbor has been shut in since March except for medical trips to the doctor, adding the tribal home nursing program is doing an excellent job to keep her safe.
"I think the federal government is handling just as well as anybody else," Meyers said. "Nobody is ahead on this game. Nobody has an answer or a solution. Many people claim they do, but I think it's a virus that has mystified a lot of people and people are still looking. I think that any entity - federal government, tribal government, state government - they are doing their best to address this, but nobody has a handle on it."
He said he thinks the state Legislature next session should give the facts in terms of the total number of COVID-19-related deaths and how many of those were actually COVID-related.
A lot of people he has talked to, which he said he and the people he talked to think those numbers are far-stretched, they think there are a lot of non-COVID deaths that are attributed to COVID, he said.
The state and local health departments are reporting the deaths according to guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The first thing the Legislature needs to do is come up with the accurate data, the real data that tells the story, how people have adapted or adjusted, and to find out if the mask mandate has worked - get the statistics - to find out if social distancing has worked to do basic research in preparation for another pandemic or preparation if this doesn't go away," Meyers said. "... I think the best that the state Legislature could do would be to plan for, take a look at this at a case study and say 'how can we be better prepared next time?'"
He said the biggest issues facing the state Legislature is health and businesses and how health policies affect businesses.
He has talked to a lot of businesses from Saco to Box Elder to the Buck Horn Grocery and cabins and Zortman, he added.
"The biggest issue is to keep Montana Main Street, as far as I'm concerned, the Hi-Line Main Street open for business," Meyers said. "I've talked with a lot of small businesses that some have gone under and some have struggled greatly because of the mask mandate and how it affected their business. Some businesses were forced to close, so I think the No. 1 issue is to keep those businesses afloat and find out how the money was expendend, how the CARES Act funding how it was expended to keep small businesses viable, so I think we need to zero-in on helping the local economy rebound and what we can do to show up or help small businesses keep going and to create new businesses."
He added that he thinks when one takes a look at the successes of the Pay-N-Save Butcher Shop in Saco, which is a resounding success - people come from all over to get their beef without hormones - when one goes to Zortman and goes to the local grocery store that meets the needs of all southern Phillips County, and the online lending company Plain Green, with the work it has done on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and more, the Legislature needs find out what made them successful and help other small businesses emulate their success.
Republicans of the Legislature's Joint Rules Committee have been holding meetings in the past few weeks that the Montana Democratic Party - and the Democratic members of the committee - say are being held in violation of state law, which says the committee cannot meet out of session until after the election and party caucuses have been established.
Meyers said he thinks there are interim committees and they operate just as any other interim committee in-between legislative sessions - they are making policies all the time.
"They are looking forward to the next session, so I would say they are just as legitimate as any other interim committee," he said.
The Rules Committee is not an interim committee and Democrats say Montana law prohibits its meeting before the election and caucuses are established for the parties.
Meyers said he thinks all options are on the table when talking state bonding bills for construction, but if the bottom line is if the state budget can support it he'd like to hear it out.
He said he thinks business is important, but when talking about bonding if he talked to his constituents about what they felt then he would have to go with what they say.
In 2015, he was in the Montana State Legislature when it passed Medicaid Expansion, he said.
"I was a Yea vote because of the health disparities in Native communities and I represent two large reservations," Meyers said.
He said what makes him the best candidate is that he has traditional values, he puts families first - he said he thinks families are the backbone of any society - and he is for responsible health legislation and for saving small businesses as well as rebuilding the businesses, keeping Main Street open and is for safe communities.
"If we put as much money into monitoring illegal drugs and drug distribution into Montana as we put into monitoring COVID that we could save a lot more lives," Meyers said. "Drug distribution, illegal drugs have killed more people than COVID. If we can monitor COVID that closely and people, and if we can have closures and shutdowns of whole communities and businesses, why can't we do that to monitor the illegal drug trafficking."
He said drug abuse has been a devastation to Native communities.
He is a social reformer, he is not for business as usual, he said, adding that as a social reformer he would advocate for the power of the social institutions, families, religion, government, media to make sure that people have a broad representation of all people and everybody would have the same input, equally.
"We need to give power back to the people," Meyers said. "What makes me the best candidate? Is that I am advocating for government by the people, not for the people. ... I think my strongest point is I'm advocating for government by the people."