From Livingston, Montana, on the banks of the Yellowstone River, a group of seasoned political progressives gather at SoundColor Studios to cook up factual, informative, and thoughtful conversations with politicians, those who hope to be politicians, historians, artists and other interesting people. The main ingredient is politics, but occasionally a splash of Montana flavored culture and history is on the menu.
In SoundColor Studios left to right: Cynthia Hills, Stuart Nelson, Dixie Hart, Nelson King, and Jerry Cole.
Nelson King in SoundColor Studios
Episode 17: Raph Graybill, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Steve Bullock and candidate for Attorney General, talks about his experience going from a kid growing up in Great Falls to patrolling the streets of New York City as a volunteer auxiliary police officer while attending Columbia University. On the role of Attorney General, he views it as enforcement focused and a counterbalance to power and says he will protect Montanan’s privacy rights and work to lower prescription drug prices. On the issue of money in politics, dark money, he says, “I think it’s sort of a bottleneck issue that if we don’t figure out, we’re not going to get meaningful change on anything else.” He talks about how in 2013 he helped write the Trace Act which later became the Disclose Act. He also discusses his role in the Espinoza -vs- The Montana Department of Revenue case which recently came before the U.S. Supreme Court. He talks about writing Governor Bullock’s executive order protecting net neutrality in Montana which became a template that other states have used, and his role in helping to pass Montana’s first-in-the-nation statewide ban on foreign influence in elections. On the importance of protecting Montana’s public lands, he talks about winning a recent Montana Supreme Court case to protect “Habitat Montana”, a 30-year-old open space program that benefits landowners, sportsmen, and outdoor recreation through conservation easements on hundreds of thousands of acres throughout the state.
Interview Date 2/4/20.......Posted 2/17/20
2020 Election Dates, Resources, and Voter Information
2020 Primary Election - June 2, 2020
2020 General Election - November 3, 2020
Use this link to check your registration status, make address changes, get information on how and where to register, and to get more information on voter registration deadlines: https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/
Note: it is always a good idea to check back a few weeks after registering or making changes to your registration to ensure your information has been updated correctly.
Filing for Office
If you are thinking about running for office in 2020 the deadline to file is 5:00 pm, March 9, 2020. For more information on filing and more voter information here’s a link: https://sosmt.gov/elections/filing/
Episode 16: We sat down with Lieutenant Governor, Mike Cooney, to talk about his candidacy for Governor and the issues that are important to him. He shares his views about healthcare, prescription drug costs, improving public education including a pre-K program, protecting Montana’s aging population, and addressing climate change. On protecting Montana’s public lands and outdoor heritage he says, “I want the same thing for all Montanans that I want for my kids and grand-kids, to be able to be given a better Montana than what I was given, and pass it on to the next generation in even better shape.” We also discuss his long history of public service in Montana beginning in 1976 when he was elected to the Montana House where he served two terms, followed by several years working for U.S. Senator Max Baucus at the state level and in Washington, D.C., then on to three terms as Montana Secretary of State, followed by his work for the nonprofit Healthy Mothers where he helped Montanans gain access to the CHIP program, then two terms in the Montana Senate where he was elected president, followed by several positions in the Montana Department of Labor. In 2014 he was tapped by Governor Steve Bullock to be Lieutenant Governor. It’s his broad experience in both elected positions and state agencies that he feels make him uniquely qualified as governor, “I know how to push government to make it work, and I know how to make sure people’s voices are heard.”
Interview Date 2/4/20....Posted 2/9/20
Episode 15: In the age of Citizens United, dark money can influence political races at every level from U. S. President to county clerk. Data mining is being used to strategically target and manipulate unsuspecting voters. Candidates need to raise record breaking amounts of money just to compete. Long held ethical political practices continue to collapse. The 2020 election cycle is in full swing and the rules are already in place, but we want to start a conversation about what we can do going forward to stop this situation from continuing in the future. How do we bring real campaign finance reform into the political conversation?
Earlier this month as we were preparing to post our candidate interview episode featuring Montana Governor candidate Reilly Neill, she contacted us to let us know she was withdrawing from the race. Since campaign financing was one of the reasons she withdrew, we asked her to sit down with us and talk about her campaign experience and her ideas about how candidates and voters can navigate the system as it is now, and work together to change it going forward.
We also asked our local House Dist. 60 Representative Laurie Bishop to join us and talk about her views on the issue from a legislative perspective. She further defines the issue, talks about her own experiences, and offers some great advice to voters on how they can deal with the conflicting information overload they’re getting.
Recorded Date 1/27/20....Posted 1/31/20
Useful Links and Websites:
Montana Campaign Finance Reports https://camptrackext.mt.gov/CampaignTracker/public/search
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices https://politicalpractices.mt.gov
Montana Disclosure Act https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2015/billhtml/SB0289.htm
Follow the Money has a searchable, user friendly, 50 state database of information about contributions and expenditures for individual campaigns, ballot measures, and more. https://www.followthemoney.org
Episode 14: We sat down with current Montana State Senator and Minority Whip, Shane Morigeau to talk about his candidacy for State Auditor, also known as the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. Quite possibly the least understood agency in Montana Government, Shane explains what the office does, and how he plans to improve the agency to better protect the citizens of Montana from insurance and financial fraud. The first step, he says, is educating the public, “How do you know how to get help from a state agency if you don’t know what they have to offer?” He also talks about the importance of having a seat on the Land Board and his commitment to protecting public lands.
Interview Date 12/17/19....Posted 1/16/20
Episode 13: Bryce Bennett, four term Representative in the Montana House and current member of the Montana Senate, talks about his legislative experience and how always being in the minority has taught him the importance of forming working bi-partisan coalitions. He talks about his decision to run for MT Secretary of State, not as a steppingstone for his personal political future, but as an authentic commitment to improve the lives of everyday Montanans. On voting, he discusses expanding voter rights, increasing election security by partnering with the National Guard to prevent hacking into the Montana voting system, developing automatic voter registration, and improving the mail ballot system. On Montana’s business services he talks about making the registration process more user friendly and accessible and giving small businesses a voice at the table. On the Land Board he talks about the importance of protecting Montana’s public land accessibility and allowing for more public easements that Montana private landowners are asking for.
Interview Date 12/05/16......Posted 12/31/19
Episode 12: We dedicate this special episode of A Podcast Runs Through It to the City of Livingston, and to all who live in the city and surrounding area. We all share a common bond, our gratitude to be able to live in such a beautiful and unique community. We all share a love for the beautiful outdoor spaces that surround us. We enjoy the rich cultural opportunities available to us through the many art galleries, theaters, coffee houses, businesses, bars, and restaurants that make up our eclectic downtown area. The Park County Museum holds the history of our past. Our many schools prepare the promise of our future. Our houses of worship feed our souls. The historic architecture throughout our community, including our cherished Carnegie Library and our beautiful Post Office Building (listed in the National Register of Historic Places), stand today as a reminder of the vision of those who lived here before us. Finally, and ultimately, it’s the spirit and diversity of the people who love and care for this community that make it the special place that it is.
We recorded this episode live from SoundColor Studios, located in the Lincoln School Foundation Building, during their annual Holiday Sale and Open House. We began with a series of short interviews with some of Livingston’s youngest citizens to get their thoughts on the upcoming Christmas Holiday.
The interviewees in order: Alice (12) and Annie (10), Charley (13) and Ben (11), Emery (9), Weston (11), Ole (10), and Chloe and Sophia (both 9).
Next, we have our interview with Livingston City Manager Michael Kardoes. We open this interesting and broad ranging interview by asking Mike to explain how our local system, a non-partisan commission management system of government, works and its advantages. We go on to cover a broad range of issues including taxes, planning, zoning, the impacts of the climate emergency, the 5th Street Crossing, the proverbial under/overpass, development, and growth. Throughout the interview you can see how his uniquely integrated, intuitive, and 50 to 100 year perspective approach to problem solving has resulted in significant results for the city. Some examples would be the new Water Treatment Plant, the positions of an Early Childhood Coordinator and an Energy Intern. We also discuss the Livingston Strategic Plan, the need for a new growth policy, and what the city has done with its website to upgrade full public disclosure and encourage public participation. We also talk about how our community is unique in that the citizens of our community are very much involved in local issues, and how the city values and encourages their input. For those who care about our local governance, there’s a lot of information in this interview and it’s well worth taking the time to unpack it.
Here’s a link to the Livingston Strategic Plan
Interview Date 12/13/19.......Posted 12/23/19
Episode 11: We sat down with Montana House Minority Leader and Democratic candidate for Governor, Casey Schreiner, who, in spite of being in the minority, managed to lead a bi-partisan effort to achieve some major legislative accomplishments in the 2019 session including protecting Medicare expansion, passing the Firefighters Health and Safety Bill, and major funding for infrastructure projects. His personal belief that having an honest, informed, and practical approach to problem solving follows the manner in which most Montanan’s expect their government to work. He talks about how his own experiences with inadequate healthcare, being a parent of a special-needs child, personal job loss, and carrying student loan debt help inform him about the needs of everyday Montanans. He feels his personal experience, combined with his legislative and administrative experience make him uniquely qualified to be Governor. Other issues we cover include the need for public Pre-K education, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, creating good jobs with good wages, and getting money out of politics. On the climate emergency, he talks about how critical a healthy environment is to Montana’s economy and quality of life, and says he’ll form a Climate Cabinet that will include professors and climate experts to come up with policies to seriously address the issue. On the Land Board he stresses the importance of preserving and protecting Montana’s public lands and offers a warning about how the state could lose it’s outdoor heritage, and other gains the Democrats have fought for, if the Governor’s seat would be won by a Republican, thus creating one party control in the state. He finishes by stating that the 2020 general elections, particularly the Montana Governor election, will be pivotal in deciding the direction our state, and our country will go in the future.
Interview Date 12/3/19.......Posted
Episode 10: “You can do a lot of good work with the law. The natural world is here to help us if we let it.” That’s what John Meyer, executive Director of Cottonwood Environmental Law Center said when asked about what inspired him to use the legal system to protect Montana’s public lands and outdoor heritage. In this broad-ranging interview he talks about how the non-profit center got its start, how they choose which cases to pursue, how the process works, his successes and failures, and what lies ahead.
Interview Date 11/18/19....Posted 11/30/19
Episode 9: Melissa Romano explains the role of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and how she is dedicated to insuring a strong public education system throughout Montana. An educator for 15 years, she is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s “Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching” and the 2018 Teacher of the Year. Her passion for providing a quality education for all Montanans is evident as she discusses the many issues facing Montana’s education system.
Interview Date: 10/18/19.....Posted 11/17/19
Episode 8: Kimberly Dudik, candidate for Montana Attorney General, talks about how her experience as a mom, a nurse, an attorney, and an 8-year member of the Montana House of Representatives informs her integrated approach to finding solutions for complex problems. While discussing a broad range of issues her impressive knowledge and attention to detail show why she’s ready and more than qualified to take on the role of Montana Attorney General.
Interview Date: 10/10/19......Posted 11/4/19
Cameron Kroetz and Nelson King
Priscilla Dusart, Mike Bunker, and Sue Daily
Keynote speaker Tom Woods
Stuart Nelson gets in the serving line.
Public servants serving the public.
Episode 7: On October 24, 2019 our team headed down to the Elk’s Lodge in Livingston, Montana, to attend the “World Famous Park County Democrats Annual Lasagna Dinner.” The theme for the dinner was “Montana Must Do Better on Climate Change.” The lively crowd of approximately 120 attendees cheered on emcee Quenby Iandiorio as she introduced speakers from the MSU College Dems, the Gallatin Valley Sunshine Movement, Park County High School’s Green Initiative, MT House Rep. Laurie Bishop, and keynote speaker MT House Rep. and Public Service Commission Dist. 3 candidate Tom Woods.
Note: Hear Tom Woods on Episode 3
We were there to find some voters to talk to about their views on climate change, voter enthusiasm, and other issues on their minds. The interviewee’s in order are: Cameron Kroetz, Sara Blessing, Mike Bunker, Rick Vanaken, Alexis Van Pernis, Tom Woods, Dan Vermillion, Rita Rosier, and Martha Adkins.
And the lasagna was delicious.
Recording Date 10/24/19........Posted 11/1/19
Sara Blessing and Nelson King
Episode 6: On October 11, 2019, Livingston and Park County residents packed the Dulcie Theatre in the Shane Lalani Center for the Arts in downtown Livingston to attend a townhall with Montana Senator Jon Tester. The standing room only crowd, estimated around 165, showed up at 10:00 AM on a frigid, Friday, October morning – a fact that impressed Senator Tester. The range of questions was broad and sometimes challenging for the Senator, as the current political situation in the United States is complicated and contentious, yet he answered all the questions without exception.
Note: There were some audio issues with the theatre equipment which we cleaned up as best we could. We feel the opportunity to hear one of our Senators interact in person, spontaneously, with constituents is one that most Montanans will never get so we decided to include the lively and informative town hall in its entirety without interruption. We apologize in advance for the sound quality.
Recording date 10/11/19......Posted 10/18/19
Episode 5: We reached out to the five candidates running for the two seats on the Livingston City Commission to sit down with us for an interview. Three of them, Melissa Nootz (incumbent), Patricia Grabow, and Mel Freidman (incumbent) showed up and shared their views on some of the challenges facing our community, and their vision for the future.
Here’s a link to learn more about the City of Livingston Organizational Strategic Plan 2019-2024.
Interview Date 10/8/19.......Posted 10/11/2019
Episode 4: John Mues, candidate for U.S. Senate, talks about the challenge of growing up in a low-income single parent household. He stresses the importance and encouragement of mentors and teachers who enabled him to enter the U. S. Naval Academy and begin a distinguished career of military service. After the military, a broad range of private sector experiences (technology, teaching, entrepreneur) gave him "a unique skill set". However, he emphasizes that it is not his skill set alone, but his empathy and compassion that makes him the best candidate to represent the people of Montana, and a formidable opponent to incumbent Steve Daines.
Interview Date 8/22/19.......Posted 9/27/19
Episode 3: Tom Woods, former Montana State legislator, talks about the important role the Public Service Commission plays in overseeing Montana’s “regulated monopolies” and how their decisions effect public safety, the environmental quality, and the pocketbooks of every Montana citizen and business. He also talks about his experience in the Montana state legislature and where some of the bodies are buried.
Interview Date 8/22/19.......Posted 9/13/19
Episode 2: Former Montana state legislator Kathleen Williams talks about what inspired her to run again, the importance of finding common ground, and fixing a broken Congress.
Interview Date 7/16/19 ....... Posted 8/31/19
Episode 1: Representative Laurie Bishop HD60 talks about the 2019 Legislative Session. Topics include Medicare expansion, C-PACE, the local option tax, and child care funding.
Interview Date 7/31/19.......Posted 8/16/19