I grew up in Colorado, technically in a western suburb of Denver but I spent just about as much time in the mountains hunting, fishing, skiing, camping, hiking, canoeing and 4-wheeling. I met my wife to be in Denver and once we were married, it didn't take us long to settle upon moving to Billings because this area is such a great place to raise a family. That was over 25 years ago and in those years, we have seen a lot of changes, many of which mirror the things I saw and experienced back in Colorado. Those previous experiences provide a large amount of insight into some of the pitfalls that we will need to avoid as the Billings area and the state of Montana continue to grow.
Professionally, I am an independent software developer working with people and companies from around the globe to create solutions for a wide variety of technical problems. I have also been an EMT and volunteer firefighter, having most recently worked with the Molt VFD which serves the area where I live. Aside from that, my wife and I are involved in several family ventures. We own, manage and maintain several rental properties in the area. A few years ago, we started Billings Open Studio in the top floor of the old Kress building on 2nd avenue north, a project that has turned into a hot spot for local photographers and artists. In 2015 we purchased a historic 100 year old building on Montana avenue and spent the next year completing a total renovation, doing most of the work ourselves. That space is now, 2905 Montana, an event venue with a unique look and feel.
Having spent a lot of time working on projects downtown has given me an even greater appreciation for what Billings has to offer. It is a vibrant, growing city with terrific restaurants, great night-life and, thriving and innovative arts and culture. Add to that our easy access to a wide variety of recreational activities and you end up with a place that a lot of people want to call home... and that is good for us! Because we are where people want to be, the Billings area has been able to weather recent economic down times far better than other places. However, as I'm sure you're aware, this can be a double edged sword. The key moving forward will be enacting legislation that provides the right incentives to prevent the problems that can occur with the kind of growth we will continue to experience. We will, of course, need to take into account private property rights and a host of other issues but, other communities around the country have successfully navigated these waters and we can learn from them as we continue to chart our course.
My wife, Grace, is a physician with a broad range of experience working locally with Billings Clinic and St. Vincent hospitals as well as with other practices across the country and US territories. Between my own medical background as an EMT and what I have learned over the years from Grace and her colleagues, I have a well rounded understanding of healthcare issues on both the local and national level. Healthcare is a huge part of the Billings area economy and as we move forward with healthcare legislation, it will be imperative that we have legislators with a high level of knowledge to counteract the common misunderstandings and uninformed rhetoric that seems to be so prevalent in the current debates.
Underlying everything else, I am a westerner steeped in western culture and the values we hold dear here in the rocky mountain west; family, honesty, integrity, rugged independence, a joyful willingness to help a neighbor in need, reverence for the land and wild places, live and let live mentality.... These shared core beliefs are a large part of what makes this place so special and we need to do our best to perpetuate these values in all of the legislation we craft.