Let's get ready to rumble 

The Indy sizes up the candidates in the key June 8 primary races.

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House District 94, Democratic primary

Winner takes all

Why it matters: Perhaps the most closely watched local primary features two high-profile and accomplished women vying for Dave McAlpin's former seat in the House. Ellie Hill, as an attorney and director of the Poverello Center, is one of Missoula's most prominent activists. Lou Ann Crowley, a Missoula City Council member from 1996 to 2006 and one-time mayoral candidate, is widely known for her civil and non-profit service. Republican candidate Jay Stanford withdrew from the race, so either Crowley or Hill will run uncontested in November and head to Helena next year.

Name: Lou Ann Crowley

Age: 63

Time in Missoula: 32 years

Education: B.A. in elementary education from State Teachers College at Boston.

Special skills: From 10 years of service on the Missoula City Council, I have direct legislative experience in budgeting, land use, transportation, economic development and serving those at risk; good listening skills, ability to work across the aisle, and a track record of building coalitions.

Website: www.louanncrowley.com

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF LOU ANN CROWLEY
  • Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Crowley

Why should residents of HD 94 vote for you?

Ten years of legislative experience, a proven track record of social and legislative accomplishments and the only candidate on the ballot who lives in the district.

If you're elected to the state House, what would be your top legislative priority?

Improving the economy through job creation in basic industries and new and green technologies, support for small businesses, and funding for UM and the College of Technology.

How would you build on Dave McAlpin's five-year tenure?

Rep. McAlpin cares a great deal about the well-being of the people of Montana based on the bills he introduced during his tenure. I would continue working in the areas of education, jobs, supporting those with mental health issues, promoting child nutrition and preventing domestic violence.

One of the most contentious issues heading into the 2011 legislative session is medical marijuana. Do you believe the law should be amended? How?

The explosive growth of the medical marijuana industry has raised a host of questions not answered by the existing law. These need to be addressed and the law amended to make the system work better for everyone. There are no easy solutions.

It's possible Republicans will control both houses in 2011. What's one item you think will have broad bipartisan support?

With the current emphasis on addressing our drinking and driving culture, I believe DUI legislation will have broad bipartisan support.

What adjective best describes Gov. Brian Schweitzer?

Charismatic.

••••••••••

Name: Ellie Hill

Age: 34

Time in Missoula: 5 years

Education: B.S. in psychology from Boise State University; J.D. from University of Idaho.

Special skills: Voted Missoula's "Best Activist" for the past three consecutive years, nearly perfect penmanship, never been beaten in "Trivial Pursuit," walked down every street in House District 94, and does the world's worst Marlon Brando impersonation.

Website: www.elliehillforhd94.org

Why should residents of HD 94 vote for you?

Because I unwaveringly support progressive values. I have been endorsed by Mayor Engen, former Mayor Kadas, six members of City Council, Montana Conservation Voters and Sen. Ron Erickson, who also represents HD 94.

If you're elected to the state House, what would be your top legislative priority?

I am already working with constituents to introduce legislation related to economic development, job creation, affordable housing and education. I also believe that we must work to immediately reduce the costs of airline travel to and from Montana.

How would you build on Dave McAlpin's five-year tenure?

Dave, who last year was named director of the Montana State Crime Lab, has been supportive of my campaign. Building on his legacy, I will be one of few legislators who have actually prosecuted DUIs and I understand firsthand the impact DUI has on our community. The new DUI courts in Billings and Kalispell are showing great promise in reducing Montana's steady increase in multiple-DUI offenders. I support expanding the program to Missoula and other communities.

One of the most contentious issues heading into the 2011 legislative session is medical marijuana. Do you believe the law should be amended? How?

Exploitation of the law's physician recommendation requirement at circus-like "clinics" that process hundreds of people in a single day must come to an end. Financial relationships between caregivers and physicians should be outlawed, plain and simple. So should public use of cannabis, by anyone. The law is intended to honor the central Montana values of freedom and self-reliance, to grant worthy patients the liberty to use an ancient, proven natural plant for healing purposes. With consensus amendments at the 2011 Legislature, we can fulfill that goal and end the craziness. My campaign has been endorsed by John Masterson, the director of Montana NORML.

It's possible Republicans will control both houses in 2011. What's one item you think will have broad bipartisan support?

In January the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision allowing corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money in political campaigns. I support a constitutional amendment clarifying that corporations are not people, money is not speech, and the Bill of Rights is a bill of human rights. Since the days of the Copper Kings in Butte, Montanans have stood unified in their opposition to the idea of special interests buying political power. A unified Montana Legislature should send a message to our congressional delegation that Congress must act to limit the damage of this radical decision that strikes at the heart of democracy.

What adjective best describes Gov. Brian Schweitzer?

Ballsy.

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