They Report, They Decide?

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Yes, the Greater Falls Election Blog has been taken down; hey, it was an interesting experiment, and at least we tried; I appreciate Dona Stebbins’ involvement. Maybe for the next election, the entire field of candidates will take advantage of web-based campaigning and interacting with voters.

Originally posted September 23: Continuing with the entry below, about Mayoral candidate Dona Stebbins replying directly to a voter’s question on a blog, consider this: KQDI 1450AM is sponsoring a “Citizen’s Forum” on their website:

Here’s your chance to ask the candidates the questions YOU want answered! Newstalk1450 is sponsoring a Citizen’s Forum for the 2005 Great Falls City Elections, and we need your questions. Send us the questions you want answered — the questions that could very well decide your vote. We know you’re informed and concerned, so let us know what to ask the folks who want to lead you. We’ll take questions (via e-mail) from our listeners until Sunday, Oct 23. Then we’ll review submissions and choose three questions to submit to all candidates. The questions will be posted right here on Oct 25. The candidate responses will be posted by November 2nd.

Emphasis mine. What the heck…? Why on earth would anyone participate in this? THREE QUESTIONS, to be decided by KQDI…well, how very generous of them! Three whole questions! And then we get to wait until November 2nd to find out the answers!

Sorry. I don’t mean to sound rude, or sarcastic, but this is the year 2005, isn’t it? Dona Stebbins, in replying to Aaron’s question, demonstrated how silly the KQDI approach is. I understand that not everyone is on-line, and not everyone reads blogs, but come on…sifting through hundreds of questions and then choosing a whopping THREE questions for the candidates to answer is just laughable. Why doesn’t KQDI post all the questions right there on their site, and allow the candidates to answer right away?

Heck, maybe I’ll try my hand at organizing a Citizen’s Forum: you folks can submit any questions you want to, via e-mail (david @ or simply by leaving a comment here…and then Dona Stebbins and Randy Gray can reply directly to the questions in one of several ways: they can reply in the comments; they can e-mail their answers and I’ll post them here; they can create their own sites and post answers there; or, I would be more than happy to create accounts right here at and they can post their answers as independent entries.



  1. David, I would be happy to participate in a Forum on your site. I would also encourage folks who have specific questions about where I stand on issues to give me a call – I’m in the book.
    I think you are right about the radio “forum.” Most of these things are designed to drive listeners to their stations, and don’t really serve a purpose to inform in any depth at all.

  2. Good idea, GeeGuy — I’ll contact his office next week and let them know about this.

    Dona, thanks for responding — it’s refreshing to have you participate in this manner!

  3. David, this is a fabulous idea! Reading through the blogs this morning, I was starting to form the plan on my own, and I see you’re ahead of me again. I would gladly participate in whatever way I can. And I have a couple of what I think are good questions…

  4. I think the Norseman is right – Commission candidates should be invited, too. We need to know how everyone views the issues that face our city – and a lot of the focus has been on the mayoral race. Most of you who follow the blogs know how I feel about many of the issues. Let’s invite everyone in the running to visit with our virtual community. David, I appreciate you taking the lead in this!

  5. I’d like to hear Dona’s and Randy’s positions on what the city learned with the Lewis and Clark event fiasco. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating Lewis and Clark. But to lose a half a million dollars doing it?

  6. Let’s hope the City learned that oversight is necessary to establish checks and balances. It appears to me that the money slipped down the drain because city management wasn’t paying attention, and the City Commission and Mayor weren’t paying attention.
    In March and April when ticket sales were so much less than expected, the event should have been slashed to 10 days at most. That would have limited the city’s financial liability – instead, the event just careened along, out of control. I do think the city has a responsibility to promote events like this, but the city’s responsibility to the taxpayers MUST take precedence. Let’s hope everyone learned to PAY ATTENTION!

  7. Thank you, Dona, for the answers. One more. Several months ago there was an article in the Tribune about a proposed wind energy project near the airport. Since that report… the wind energy project (much larger) south of Judith Gap has been proposed and been almost built… and it appears we’re still in the dark as to what’s going on with the wind energy project here in Great Falls. Any ideas what’s going on?

  8. I haven’t heard anything further about that project, but I will see what I can find outand I will post it here. That’s one of the problems of having a daily newspaper that is essentially a monopoly. If they don’t choose to pursue a topic, we are in the dark. I like the idea of wind power, and find the project south of the Gap strangely beautiful. One thing about wind energy as opposed to other types is that we will never run out of the raw product here in Central Montana.

  9. David;

    Your election blog seems to be down. It was a nice experiment.

    I would like to see the city commission candidates/mayoral candidates discuss a few things that were in the Tribune in recent days.

    First, the profit and loss for the big Lewis and Clark party was finally published. I posted about a few things that struck me in the numbers here. I would love to hear Dona and Randy’s thoughts regarding the lessons learned, and their opinion on the specifics revealed in the numbers.

    Next, the Trib ran a fascinating article on Sunday comparing the economy on the Hi-Line to that in the Ag towns in Southern Alberta. I blogged on that here. Most interesting to me are the implications comparing Lethbridge to Great Falls. For years, these cities were comparable in every respect. However, in recent years Lethbridge has gone through incredible growth. Now, I would be surprised if it did not have 200,000 residents. How do our candidates feel that we could replicate some of that success?


  10. I was looking forward to some more questions, and a response from more candidates. David, you’re just ahead of the curve:)

  11. I know I’m not in Great Falls currently, but one thing on my mind happened when I was still in GF in June. It has to deal with Randy Gray’s ranting over the modified cars in town. Specifically the mini-trucks with modified gas tanks, like the one that was involved in the accident that his wife was in. I would like to know what the candidates think of these cars… and if they are for them or think they are a danger to the public.

  12. Dona, since the GF Tavern Association is a strong supporter of your candidacy, how do you propose to maintain objectivity in your decisions, should you be elected, when issues are brought before you and the commission that propose actions deleterious to the interest of those folks? We all know that members of the TA are not bashful about calling in favors when they want things to go their way.

  13. Loran,
    I have support from some of the Tavern Owners because I have worked with them on their advertising for many years. As my clients, they have also become my friends. I believe they trust my integrity and know that as Mayor, I would make decisions based upon the best interests of the entire community.
    If you will recall, when the Casi-no group came to our Neighborhood Council 7 and requested our support, I recused myself because at the time, I had several clients who were in the Tavern industry. I supported neither side in that matter, and believe that my ability to make decisions objectively based upon the needs of our community is not in question.
    Kirsten and Aaron, I’m a little pushed for time this morning, but I will address your concerns soon.

  14. Dona, I think Loran Keller’s question to you is outrageous since it clearly presumes you lack the ethical background to be in office. Can we assume, Mr. Keller, that any candidate you support is beholden to you for “favors?”

    The horse is sure high, isn’t it folks?

  15. Loran,

    What would you do or say different if you knew GeeGuy’s name? How about posting your home address and phone number. If logic supports one’s arguments, what does a name matter. Unless you need it for some purpose other than intellectual exchange.

  16. Mr. Keller, I’m hardly anonymous. Spend a few minutes on my blog, and if you still can’t figure it out, send me an email. I’ll be happy to tell you who I am. Due to some unfortunate incidents involving blog readers here in town, I choose to avoid overt disclosure of my identity.

  17. Holy cow, David! You are getting more “action” on this subject than you did when the election blog was up and running! LOL

  18. I am of the opinion that Donna has been more objective than many of our current City officials. I have yet to hear her go off in the media about something that concerns her personally, She has obviously used good judgement on past issues on when to step back and not participate. She has participated in this blog with courtesy and honesty.
    I have no impact on the outcome of this election except my single vote on election day and do not see how my comments on this blog matter more or less if you know who I am.

  19. Firefly,
    That single vote has great power! Put enough of them together, and change happens. It is my belief that our elected officials have forgotten where the true power lies. It is not really theirs – it belongs to all of us, and is only theirs on loan. Government derives its’ power from the consent of the governed.
    I have been following the Billings mayoral race, and candidate Ron Tussing said something that really resonated with me. “The future belongs to those who are not content with the present.”
    I would like to invite the blogging community to tonight’s forum, sponsored by the Tribune, and held at the Gibson Room in the Civic Center. Commission candidates are on at 6:30 and Mayoral candidates at 7:30.
    It should be interesting and informative.

  20. If I was in GF… I would definatly be at the forum tonight…but the 13 hour drive from Denver isn’t th at great. But good luck!

  21. Well, David, I admit I missed your election blog…do hope you had a bit more luck than Newstalk1450 did. Maybe the candidates (except Dona) aren’t online, or interested in communicating with the blog community.

    Good to know that someone is paying attention to lowly, though, even if you disdain participating. If I’d heard about you sooner, woulda featured a link to your election blog long ago & hyped the hell out of it.

    Thanks for being a great media alternative!

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