After losing his bid to serve as the governor of the state of Montana, I hoped that Greg Gianforte would return to his roots. Not back to New Jersey, as Montana is his home, but to his original mission of creating jobs by starting new businesses and investing in Montana.
RightNow Technologies was a great success. Mr. Gianforte has the proven talent, experience and capital to build new businesses in Montana. Imagine the impact if he were to start or fund new businesses in Colstrip? Imagine if he spent the many millions of dollars investing in Montana businesses as he has spent running for various public offices.
Instead, Mr. Gianforte is running against Rob Quist for Montana’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have two important reasons for supporting Mr. Quist in this race.
First, Mr. Quist is a fiercely independent person, whose voice in support of all Montanans in the U.S. Congress is much needed. He has a diverse background as a small business owner, a musician and a public servant. His career, as well as his time in this campaign, has focused on interacting with people across the State of Montana. He knows Montanans of all backgrounds, cultures and locations, and has personal experiences facing many of the same challenges with which all Montanans struggle. With Mr. Quist, Montanans will be represented by a person who supports public lands and access for hunting, fishing and recreation. He will protect and defend the Social Security and Medicare systems. He is a staunch advocate for our Second Amendment rights, high-quality public education, equality and diversity. Mr. Quist will vigorously represent Montanans and the values that make our communities and our culture truly special.
In contrast Mr. Gianforte says he is running to make sure that so-called “liberals” don’t obstruct President Donald Trump’s agenda. In my experience as a fifth generation resident of this state, Montanans do not want anyone representing us in the U.S. Congress who simply follows someone else’s agenda. Montana includes 56 counties, eight tribes, an economy that includes agriculture, tourism, a U.S. Air Force base, a nascent technology sector, large educational institutions, health care centers and much more. Whether you like Trump or not, there is no way the Trump agenda is designed to serve all the interests of Montanans.
And we need a person who respects the need of Montanans for honest answers and sincere, fact-driven debate, not someone who limits his access to Montanans to invitation only and paid campaign events the way Mr. Gianforte has been doing.
My second reason is in regard to the positions of Mr. Quist and Mr. Gianforte on some key issues. We at OpenSourceMT stand for a limited government and for active, involved citizenship. We advocate for public policies that can help continue to build a Montana that is a uniquely great place to live and to work. Recently OpenSourceMT sent a questionnaire to both candidates, asking questions regarding their policy positions in four areas:
• Support for public education.
• Respect for diversity.
• Commitment to public lands, conservation and the environment.
• Investment in infrastructure.
Mr. Quist responded to the questionnaire. Mr. Gianforte did not. We assessed the candidates’ positions based on Quist’s responses and on statements from Mr. Gianforte’s website and his actions and statements in and prior to the governor’s race. Of particular concern about Mr. Gianforte are several key past actions and positions. We know that he:
• Tried to stop fishing and public access rights to the East Gallatin near his home.
• Opposed common sense anti-discrimination policies in Bozeman and other Montana cities.
• Opposes the right of Montanans to high-quality public education, vital in all areas of the state — especially rural communities.
In all areas of our assessment, we find Mr. Quist to be a far better representative for Montana’s technology community as well as other growing businesses. People can see details of this assessment at http://www.opensourceMT.org.
In summary, Montanans deserve more than a rubber-stamp for Trump representing us in the U.S. House of Representatives. We need a thoughtful person like Mr. Quist who understands and will listen to all Montanans. As a business person myself, I’d say if you are investing your money in a company, consider the insights of Mr. Gianforte. But, running a business is very different than serving Montanans in our only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. When you invest your vote on May 25, 2017, please do so for Rob Quist. I have great confidence that Mr. Quist will best represent all our Montana values and the interest of all Montanans.
Susan Carstensen is a Billings native, MSU graduate, Bozeman resident, parent, co-founder of OpensourceMT and former CFO, COO and SVP Customer Experience at RightNow Technologies.