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

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Schuster Files For HD34

Looks to Champion Constitution


February 12, 2020

For Tracy Schuster, running for House District 34 is about getting involved as a citizen and doing her part towards better governance. She says that she feels called to serve, citing the direction of the country and her view that what is happening in America is not what is best for this country.

"I think a lot of the political scene has become so vitriolic that people kind of pull away from it, they tune it out," said Schuster discussing the political environment in the country. "That just allows them [politicians] to run amok even more and I think D.C. is too corrupt."  

Schuster filed in January as a Republican running in HD 34, which covers northeast Glasgow up to Opheim, over to Plentywood and down to Culbertson, cutting out a large portion of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. She will be challenging incumbent Republican Rhonda Knudsen, of Culbertson, for the party's nomination. The race for the nomination is likely to establish the actual representative as well since Knudsen ran completely unopposed in the primary and general election in 2018.

The would-be noaminee says that she decided to get involved in politics after joining "Convention of States," a non-partisan political outreach organization that Schuster says exists, "to reign in the federal government, kind of hold them accountable, to address the national debt. The federal government is getting out of their jurisdiction and stomping on states' rights and term limits. That's their platform."

Schuster says her involvement in the organization helped her to overcome a feeling of helplessness as one individual, encouraged her to get involved in the political process and do something about it to make a difference. She says she lobbied the legislature about the platform and found that a lot of them were not "championing" the platform, so she decided to run herself. 

Schuster met her husband, Steve Schuster, in Illinois after being born and raised in Indiana and moved to the state. Her and her husband married in 2004 and transitioned to Montana after they purchased the fourth-generation family farm near Glentana. Schuster would work at her career in Illinois and travel out to Montana in the spring to assist with planting and other chores and then go back. Eventually the transition to Montana would become permanent.

"It was a hard transition at that time, but I've learned to love it," explained Schuster. "Well, I don't know if I learned to love it or if it just grows on you, it's one of those two."

In Peoria, Ill., she worked, among other jobs, as a coach for the school district and taught the youth group as one of the co-directors. The highlight for her in that job was helping people- especially girls-reach their full potential, something she is passionate about today.

She discussed her life experiences-she described them as "some good, some bad"-and she looks to draw on them in her pursuit of office. "Some of those were hard times and difficult times. I think we're supposed to use those hard times to help others, and I think we can share our wisdom."

One such area where Schuster has a passion for getting involved and being proactive is in the opioid epidemic. She explained that her son was affected by a drug addiction and she views prevention, education and enforcement as key to handling the crisis. One of the biggest things she advocates for is teaching life and coping skills in the educational system at an early age to teach kids how to turn it down or avoid those interactions.

Schuster has taken this goal of helping others overcome addiction and learn to cope with life and turned it into action. Every week her, her husband and her mother-in-law go into the county jail to work with inmates on drug and alcohol addiction using a 12-step biblical approach and, in some cases, they use Native American spiritual literature.

"We try to build them up so that they don't let that define them," said Schuster. "If everybody is defined by what they have done wrong then society is just done, right? We don't want them to stay stuck, we want them to rise above that and become the best person they can be."

In response to a question about Rhonda Knudsen, Schuster said that she was not so much running against Knudsen as much as she was running for Convention States, something she says she could not convince Knudsen to champion during her time in the House. As a result, Schuster decided to champion the issue herself and run for office.

"[Convention States] is one area that I am 100 percent committed to," explains Schuster. "I think the state legislatures need to step up and be the guardians of states' rights-federalism, whatever you want to call it. That's their primary role as a body and they are neglecting that." She went on to say that Montana should stay Montana and Montanans should decide for Montana.

Convention of States (CoS Action) is a 501 (c) 4 political action committee that, according to their website was, "founded for the purpose of stopping the runaway power of the federal government. We believe Washington, D.C., is broken and will not fix itself. The federal government is spending this country into the ground, seizing power from the states and taking liberty from the people."

The solution proposed by CoS Action is to get 34 of the 50 United States to ratify calls for a national convention to amend the United States Constitution. The group says the convention would propose amendments that would be aimed at, "limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government."

The group says that a grassroots movement in over 40 states is aimed at accomplishing this national convention through the work of volunteers and local leaders (like Schuster) who conduct educational outreach and lobby their local legislators to accomplish the singular focus of calling a convention. 

While discussing a desire to inspire Americans, Schuster said that the country has scars in its history but that we were not inherently bad and we needed to teach people about that history and the country. Then she added, "We don't need a transformation of America, we just need Americans to connect with other Americans."


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