Republican Nick Mahan said he wants to get elected to put his small government, free market philosophy to work creating high-paying jobs, protecting taxpayers and controlling public lands.
A faithful GOP trooper, Mahan has carried the party’s banner in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections. He moved to Bozeman in 1989 to attend college. His first foray into politics was managing Eric Bryson’s campaign for the Bozeman City Commission in 2007. Then Mahan was elected as a GOP precinct man before getting asked to run for Legislature in 2008.
Mahan, favors Wyoming’s college student aid program, which pays students’ tuition with state oil and gas taxes. He said the system is tiered with students’ aid based on their high school grades.
“That is the model I want to promote if I get elected. We’re right here on the Bakken. And the more they drill down the more they know they can get,” Mahan said. He added that he does not want to repeal the 18-month gas tax holiday.
Mahan, who has family in eastern Montana and grew up in Colstrip, said government regulations are holding up oil and coal production.
“I think we can do a better job of getting people to work. And the infrastructure in that part of the state, they’re welfare-dependent in those counties, but they don’t have to be. We get some natural resources out of the ground, so they’re paying their fair share, so let’s get a new water district, a new school, new roads,” he said.
Mahan supports the transfer of federally owned public lands to state ownership. Democrats have said that would be the first step in privatizing public lands.
“Because then you as a voter have more control over whom you vote for and how the state controls that land,” he said, comparing it to the local control of public schools that he described as a success in Montana.
On climate change, Mahan, who graduated from high school in Anchorage, Alaska, denied global warming was an issue.
“I think it’s pretty inconclusive that it’s happening. … If you yell at people and tell them the grass is blue long enough, they’re going to say, ‘Yeah it is blue,’” Mahan said.
Mahan also does not support expanding Medicaid to cover uninsured, low-income Montanans.
“There’s got to be a better way to do it. Expansion will push people into staying in poverty,” Mahan said. “It straps the state to this unsustainable option. The state is going to start bleeding money so the taxes are going to go up.
Mahan is opposed to fixing every problem with a government program that spends tax money.
“I’m not for raising taxes. We pay enough taxes as it is,” he said. “We’re a welfare state dependent on the feds, right now.”
Questions asked by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle of all local candidates
What experience do you have that qualifies you to hold public office?
I have held elected offices at the local level. I have been involved with several legislators that have served in the House over the last several cycles and have learned how the Montana House works and will be able to jump right in to the job.
What issues are important to your district and what do you plan to do about them?
Jobs. Taxes. Keeping MSU a thriving university that attracts students from all over the world. All three have a core that can be dealt with in a similar fashion. The state of Montana has vast natural resources that can be tapped safely. By using what our state has to offer we can create jobs, reduce taxes and promote MSU as well as every other school and/or university in the state.
What are your plans to increase bipartisanship?
“Grid lock” is part of how our form of government sometimes works. Grid lock prevents bad bills from becoming law. Grid lock or partisanship can be overcome very easily, by introducing smart, intelligent bills that are designed to help uplift our state. Introducing convoluted and complicated bills add to partisanship. My plan is to introduce bills that uplift our state and make it a better place to live.
What would you like to do with the state’s budget surplus money?
Give it back to the taxpayers.
How do you think the state should fund school districts and universities?
I would fund the schools and universities through the safe and responsible exploration and recovery of Montana’s vast natural resources.
These questions were asked by the League of Women Voters for its Voter Guide. Responses were provided by the candidates.
What experience do you have that would be useful to you in this position?
Length in District/County: 23 years. I have owned and operated a small business and sign both sides of the paycheck. I have been in charge of the Gallatin County Republican Party and can handle different personalities to accomplish goals.
Given that Montana currently has a sizable revenue surplus, what are your legislative priorities for the upcoming session?
If the State is in a position to have a surplus I feel that that money should be given back to the tax payers. That would be my largest priority.
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