Another State election has come to a close, as usual the results will please some more than others.
For the position of governor Montana had two serious candidates: Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Steve Bullock. Bullock won reelection with 50 percent of the vote. This, for the most part, means Montana will stay the same. In his first term Bullock prevented the selling off of public lands, and he protected Second Amendment rights, Obamacare, and LGBTQ efforts. In Bullock’s second term he plans to do more of the same. He is a Democrat, but one that doesn’t care much for clean energy and likes guns.
The U.S. House of Representative race was another instance of a candidate winning reelection, except this time it was a Republican named Ryan Zinke. He beat Democrat Denise Juneau with 60 percent of the vote. His policies are more or less geared toward energy dependence and border control. Most of his campaigning was highly focused on his status as a veteran and not what he actually plans to do.
In the race for the empty State Supreme Court Justice seat, the people had the choice of voting for either Dirk Sandefur or Kristen Juras. Sandefur won 53 percent of the vote, running on the fact that he has experience in the judicial system and his opponent does not. There is not much policy to discuss for a Supreme Court Justice because their job is to interpret laws not make them. Their job is to preserve the state constitution and decide court cases that district courts disagree with. That is why this position really should not be voted for, people tend to put emotion behind judicial decisions. This leads to injustice in many cases.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction basically supervises schools. They set goals for teachers and principals, control campus culture, and play a huge part in shaping youth. This year the race was between Elsie Arntzen and Melissa Romano. Arntzen won 54 percent of the vote. She has promised to do away with Common Core, put education in local hands as opposed to the hands of politicians, and give local agriculture a place in school cafeterias. While she doesn’t have much control, she can certainly take a few steps in that direction.
The last major issues on the ballot were the initiatives. This year we had Constitutional Initiative 116 to ensure that crime victims’ rights and interests are protected by law, initiative 177 to prohibit the use of traps and snares for animals by the public on any public lands within Montana, with certain exceptions, initiative 181 promote research into developing therapies and cures for brain diseases and injuries, and initiative 182 to expand access to medical marijuana.
CI-116 passed with 66 percent of the vote. It gives victims rights to privacy and notification if the accused is released or escapes. I-177 failed with only 34% of the vote, so nothing will change in regards to trapping laws. 1-181 also failed with 42% of the vote. 1-182 passed and was the closest of the four initiatives. It garnered 56% support, so medical marijuana will once again be accessible in Montana. The qualifications for receiving medical marijuana are much more strict than they were in states like California, so many people will still be unable to legally acquire a medicine proven to help with depression. This is something Montana should look into considering since we have the second highest suicide rate in the country.
Overall, very little is bound to change at the State level as Montana voted to keep the same people in office. The two initiatives that passed are rather significant. One will amend the state constitution, the other lets people access medicine. The next four years will be interesting.