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Gallatin County voters are choosing a new county commissioner in the November election, and the clear choice is Zach Brown, a Democratic state legislator and a native of the Gallatin Valley. Brown has a clear-eyed understanding of the land-use challenges facing the county. And that kind of understanding will be vital as the county continues to grow with an influx of newcomers in need of housing.

Brown is facing Republican Carter Atkinson for the seat on the commission now held by Don Seifert, who is not seeking re-election but is instead running for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Atkinson is a newcomer to the local political scene. He is an engaging and curious candidate but lacks Brown’s extensive background.

In the Legislature, Brown served on the House taxation, natural resources and fish, wildlife and parks committees. He is currently the chair of the Water Policy Interim Committee. He is a founding member of the Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus and he was appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock to serve on the Private Lands, Public Wildlife Council.

In addition to his time in the Legislature, Zach has worked tirelessly to get all Montanans counted in the census through his work with One Montana, a nonprofit political activism organization.

The Gallatin County Commission has been dominated by Republicans in recent years and has been disproportionately considerate of rural concerns over those of urban citizens of the county. Brown has a history of bridging the differences between competing interests in the Legislature and he will likely serve a similar role as county commissioner.

As Gallatin County’s population grows, land-use planning will become increasingly critical in preserving the quality of life we all value living here.

Though Atkinson may not be ready for a seat on the county commission, his ambition and enthusiasm are appreciated and he is encouraged to continue to seek a place in local politics.

But for this election, Zach Brown is the smart choice.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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