The Coward of the County 

A 5,000 pound elephant was sitting in the room on Monday night at MSU-Northern in Havre while the Hill County candidates participated in the public forum sponsored by the Havre Daily News. Republican Incumbent Senator Russ Tempel of Chester and Democrat challenger Dave Brewer of Havre respectfully agreed on nearly all issues and demonstrated what politics can be like when you’re not a partisan hack. Independent Les Odegard and Democrat Sheri Williams challenged Republican Diane McLean on her history as Hill County Commissioner in a spirited discussion. 

And then there he was, the giant elephant we couldn’t ignore: the empty chair where Representative Ed Hill was supposed to be sitting. Democrat Paul Tuss running for House District 28 was not shaken by the no-show status of his inferior (on all levels) opponent. Tuss focused his answers on breaking through partisanship to achieve progress for Montanans. He touched on utilizing the private sector to address Montana’s housing crisis, using the budget surplus to support nursing homes, and affirming his support for the right to privacy as guaranteed in the Montana Constitution. Where was our lone representative Ed Hill? Why wasn’t he sharing his legislative vision for the people of Havre and answering honest questions in front of his constituents? 

According to a constituent in Havre who had the unfortunate experience of having his door knocked by Ed Hill on Tuesday, “He declined to debate because he wanted to speak on neutral turf.” Of course Ed Hill would consider that an institution of knowledge such as MSU-Northern would be considered “unfair turf”.

Hill further buried his head in the sand Monday night by refusing to speak to the Havre Daily News for their Campaign Profile series, because “he couldn’t get the questions ahead of time.” Why is Ed Hill so afraid to answer questions from the people of Havre? Why can’t he think for himself on his toes? Havre is essentially a small town, and folks notice when you don’t have the guts to answer basic questions. The other six (two of them Republican) candidates did, and all answered with integrity and bravery. 

If ever a title fit the Representative from House District 28, Coward of the County would be it. Except if Hill came across poor Becky after being assaulted by the Gatlin brothers, he would probably tell her that life begins at conception and be on his way. 

For the full scoop on the insanity of the absent legislator, check out the Havre Daily NewsArticles 

By Lindsey Ratliff
Lindsey is a lifelong Montanan born and raised in the Malt Barley Capital of the World (Fairfield, MT). A Dirt Road Democrat and political junkie, she interned in Sen. Baucus office in 2012 and has been active with local Democratic races since. She currently lives in Havre where she teaches kids how to draw, paint, and discern between facts and bullshit. She is currently serving her 2nd term on the Havre City Council.

And, if you’re completely lost on the music reference, check out the late great Kenny Rogers