Loren Acton

Competence with a Conscience


Democratic Candidate for Montana Legislature

House District 69, West Gallatin County, Montana



To:       Editor, Belgrde News

From:   Loren Acton

Date:    October 10, 2006

Subj:    Responses prepared for Belgrade News questionnaire.


1)   Why did you decide to run for this office?

·        I believe passionately in representative government and want to do my part.

·        Mr. Schweitzer is a good governor.  I want to help implement his forward-looking policies in energy, education and economic development.

·        My scientific training will be helpful in drafting and analyzing laws.

·        A Montana education prepared me for a wonderful career.  It is payback time.

·        I honestly believe that I will be a better representative of all of the people in HD69, and a more effective legislator, than the incumbent.

·        At 70 years old, I finally have the time and resources to campaign and to serve.

·        My dad, Wilber S. Acton, served in the legislature in 1939.


2)   What are the things that make you a better choice than your opponent?

·        Politically, I am a moderate.  This persuasion leads more directly to problem solving and policy compromise than the extreme conservatism of my opponent.  You don’t get good government from someone who gives every indication of hating government.

·        I will work harder than my opponent.  I live in Montana year around and am prepared to do the hard work of carrying good legislation and serving on interim committees between sessions.

·        My entire career has been in science, a way of thinking and addressing problems.  A good scientist doesn’t assume that he or she knows the answer before they do the work.  My training and this system of addressing issues leads naturally to better conclusions and enables compromise solutions that benefit everyone. 

·        My scientific background will help to identify false arguments in bills brought forward by special interests and to assure scientific and technical integrity of public policy.

·        My opponent puts ideology before his responsibility to represent all of the people of HD69.  How can a person who actively advocates making Montana a so-called “Right to Work” state claim to represent the union workers of Three Forks?

·        A check of the internet reveals that my opponent advocates decrease of corporate taxes, gasoline taxes, alcohol taxes, vehicle taxes, and property taxes.  He also would eliminate all income taxes and capital gains taxes.  He does not suggest how to fund the crucial functions and services of government for Montanans after such a massive loss of revenue.


3)   If elected, what do you believe are three of the greatest challenges you will face in the next six months in office?  How will you respond to each?

·        Election in November and starting the legislative session in January means a winning candidate must hit the ground running.  There is a great deal to learn about the process as well as the nuances of the issues in that very brief time.  In order to prepare myself I will take full advantage of briefings and training through the Montana Legislative Services Division.  I will also impose unmercifully on experienced legislative colleagues, of both parties, for advice and guidance.  Finally, I will read and study, every available minute, material on the issues known or predicted to be on the docket of the 2007 legislative session.

·        My second greatest challenge will be wisely budgeting my time.  The experience of running some sizeable space projects will be a benefit here.  Also, my wife Evelyn promises to be fully engaged with my political work – as she has been in all aspects of our life together throughout the 49 years of our marriage.

·        The third challenge I recognize is to maintain health, vitality and good humor in the face of a grueling schedule and sometimes contentious activity.  I’ve lived long enough to know the need to set priorities and limits for work, exercise, relaxation, eating and drinking.


4)   What does the term “open government” mean to you and how does it affect the office you seek?  Is it more or less important than the right of individual privacy?

      To me, open government means full public and media access to all deliberations and documents of government as allowed by law.  This includes lobbying and the results thereof.  Exceptions to this rule are, e.g., sensitive personnel actions and sealed bids up until the time of contract award.

      I will adhere to this philosophy as a legislator and expect my colleagues to do the same.  There is no right of individual privacy for the official work of public officials.  The private lives of those who serve the public, on the other hand, should be allowed to remain private by the public and the media.


5)   What are your top 3 priorities for the 2007 legislative session and why did you choose them over other priorities?

·        Energy.  In the long term, if prosperity is to be maintained, we must decrease our dependence on petroleum.  For the shorter term, the U.S. is extremely vulnerable to disruption of the supply of foreign oil.  I believe that Governor Schweitzer is moving Montana in the right direction.  My scientific experience and approach will be valuable as the legislature works on these issues.

·        Education.  Preparing our children to be good citizens and productive, self-reliant, adults is the most important function of government.  This is not just a matter of funding, although that is still inadequate.  Good, affordable, schools, colleges and universities are not possible without good plans, policies and community consensus.  I had the benefit of a good Montana education that took me into space on the Challenger and ultimately brought me back to Montana to do solar research at MSU.  Assuring the same opportunity for this and future generations is my passion.

·        Economy.  Montana is blessed with abundant natural resources, good agricultural lands and hard-working people.  Government has an important role in assuring the opportunity for a good livelihood for all.  It is the function of state and local government, through laws, regulations and incentives, to balance the powerful engine of private enterprise alongside the long term public interest.  Because my desire is to enhance and pass on a healthy economy and a healthy environment to future generations I look forward to this aspect of public service.