The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Wicks Takes Questions on Land Use, Negative Ads

 


When we reached Mark Wicks by phone, he took a break at his Inverness cattle ranch.

“I like to try to get a little work done,” he joked, adding, “I need to check my cows and make sure they’re where I left them.” From there, we started in on questions relevant to the Libertarian candidate’s bid for Montana’s at-large congressional district seat.

Asked about the American Prairie Reserve’s attempts to introduce “free-roaming” bison in Northeast Montana, Wicks responded, “It worries me.”

“As a rancher, I’m in a position where I could have the same problem,” he added, referring to risks presented by bison to local livestock and property.

Wicks explained he has heard stories of bison escaping and ending up destroying other ranchers’ property. As well as neighboring farmers receiving no compensation from APR. Wicks supports a state solution to compensating ranchers currently and doesn’t support the conversion of ranch lands to nature reserves.

“I’m not a fan of watching all these ranches being turned into reserves. When they sell out, that’s gone forever,” Wicks stated adding, “And I don’t think they’ll ever have a big tourism industry through buffalo.”

Pressed on farming and ranching issues, Wicks went on to explain his benefit to all of Montana. “I think I’m definitely the one who has the most knowledge on it [Montana] being a rancher and farmer my whole life. It makes me feel like I can represent Montana. Especially eastern Montana, which is forgotten way too much.”

Politically, Wicks supports initiatives that would help grow farming and ranching profitability. “One of the easiest things we could do would be to get hemp as a crop. Just a simple bill to allow it by changing its classification at a federal level, and it’s a tremendous money maker,” said Wicks emphatically.

Wicks also spoke out against the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and its broad effects on farmers and ranchers. Wicks said he would work to amend the ESA so it could not hurt farmers and ranchers in such broad ways. Lastly, on agriculture Wicks said he supports country of origin labeling simply stating, “I really like to know where my beef is coming from.”

On health care, Wicks was adamant that it was a states’ issue, “I would definitely like to see it back to the states.” He did, however, say he supported Medicaid and Medicare programs and would want to keep them. On the issue of pre-existing conditions he was more reserved, “I don’t have a firm solution on pre-existing conditions. We just haven’t found a good solution yet.”

Wicks added that he believed the Affordable Care Act was insolvent, “ACA is collapsing under its own weight. It can’t keep sucking that kind of money out of peoples’ incomes.”

On veterans healthcare, Wicks advocates giving veterans a Medicare card so veterans needing health care would no longer have to go through the Veterans Administration. Wicks played down his own service, but touted his support for veterans. “I was in a couple years so I don’t even consider myself a vet. The guys who went over and got shot at, they are the veterans.”

On mental health care access in eastern Montana: “We definitively need it,” he asserted adding, “but I don’t have enough experience on it to say what I can do to help.” He stressed that in Congress he would have the ability, and budget, to investigate issues and look for the best solutions. He also stressed that his independent candidacy would make him more likely to be successful in introducing legislation.

Wicks lamented the current nature of the Congressional Campaign. He said he receives the same junk mail as everyone else. “I was looking through my mail this morning, and getting furious. I don’t like the crap that’s in there. It is beyond a political race, and lets just call it schoolyard bullying.” Wicks added, “I’m a fair person so when I see someone being unfairly attacked I hate it.” Wicks didn’t comment on which candidates pamphlets were infuriating, but he said he wasn’t interested in running ads of that nature. “It’s not my style to attack an opponent in that way,” Wicks said he had people consider those types of tactics but that he wouldn’t go for it. “I’ve told people working for me. Nope. We’re not doing that.”

Wicks distinguishes himself from conservatives, saying that he is socially more accepting of other people’s lives. “Socially, I don’t care what people are doing as long as they aren’t hurting other people.” When asked to be specific, he said, “I have no problem with gay marriage.” Wicks was aware that the opinion was likely to be unpopular in some parts of the state, but stressed the principle of personal liberty: “Having liberty is the idea of letting other people be happy as long as they aren’t hurting other people.”

Wicks was asked if his view on marijuana fell under this category, he felt it didn’t: “Everybody that wants marijuana has marijuana. Prohibition has failed and enforcing it is causing more problems than it is solving.”

The candidate distinguished himself from American liberals by drawing on experiences he had while living in Sweden, stating, “I’ve lived in a socialist country, and it takes away the incentive to improve yourself.”

 

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