Oct 17, 2012 12:31 PM by KRTV
Candidate Profile: Robin Baker, candidate for Cascade County Commissioner
KRTV sent questions to candidates for public office; replies are posted verbatim below, with a link to the candidate's website (if available) or Facebook page (if available) at the bottom.
Click here for other candidate profiles.
- How can the county better prepare itself for future drought and severe fire conditions?
I believe there is a need to have fire restrictions for the general public when we have severe dought conditions. However, I believe that we must protect the interests of the agricultural producers in the County. I would work on developing a plan for producers that would also meet the concerns of the rural fire chiefs for safety and the county's liability issues to meet the specific needs of that producer, on a case by case basis. What would be appropriate for a producer on irrigated land is different from a dry land producer. This was an issue last year for Cascade County and it was not addressed this year until the producers in the Simms area were faced with planting deadlines. I believe we can develop a proactive approach to this issue rather than waiting to see when the weather might change so the issue goes away. We have to apply common sense to issues.
- How can Cascade County make better use of its natural resources?
We can encourage a more diversified economic base in Cascade County by working with companies to develop our abundance of the natural resources that we have here. We also can continue to partner with existing groups like the Great Falls Development Authority in the work they are doing to bring more companies to our area. We may not see a lot of oil and gas development here in Cascade County, but we can develop the manufacturing facilities that support those industries. I also would like to see more wind development here. But we must be willing to cut through the overly stringent regulations that keep businesses from locating here. I will not compromise safety and environmental laws, but we must create an environment that keeps us in a competitive pace with other areas.
- In your opinion, what is the biggest problem currently facing Cascade County? How do you suggest fixing that problem?
Creating jobs has to be one of the highest priorities for the next Cascade County Commissioner. We have the capability to maintain a well trained work force, so we must encourage more businesses to locate here and create a diversified tax base. Again, by decreasing the amount of regulations for businesses, both large and small businesses, we can see increased growth. City and County entities have to work together to promote this. I believe I can work well with people to promote this idea for seeing Cascade County grow.
- Several small communities face financial constraints in keeping their water systems in compliance with regulations. How can Cascade County help these communities?
My work on Neighborhood Council #6 has given me the experience in dealing with the infrastructure issues. Not only water, but sewer and roads are huge problems that many of our rural communities are facing. Each problem area has to be identified and a specific plan for that area must be devised. The need to prioritize the issues and coming up with funds in the budget is the role of the Commissioners to address these issues.
- Should the county be looking into a replacement facility for Four Seasons Arena? If so, what type of facility and how do we secure the funding?
I believe we have a great opportunity to develop the entire Expo Park facility. I know there has been a long history of different management over the last few years, but I think the current staff is working hard to make Expo Park into a valuable asset to Cascade County. I don't think this is the time to be talking about a replacement faciltiy for the Four Seasons Arena. We have to work with what we currently have. We can start by having more events throughout Expo Park and then using those profits to improve the existing buildings and/or have plans for replacement as profits add up. I would like to see Cascade County be the promoter of more events to establish it as a venue for larger concerts and other events that would put it on the map as a destination for more acts. Yes, even horse racing has a place in this discussion. I would like to see all sorts of events being sponsored by the County. These events are a positive for the entire area by the dollars that are brought into local businesses.