Al Olszewski 2020 Election Questionnaire
Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide primary candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 300 words per question. These are their unedited responses.
Gubernatorial candidate Al Olszewski:
What is your full name as it will appear on ballots?
Al “Doc” Olszewski
What is your age?
Age: 57 years old.
Where do you live?
What is your education background?
Education: Graduate of C.M. Russell High School (1980), Carroll College (1984), University of Washington Medical School (1988), US Air Force Wilford Hall Orthopedic Residency (1995), University of Texas Health Science Center Sports Medicine Fellowship (1998).
What is your current occupation?
Occupation: Independent Orthopedic Surgeon and a small business owner in Northwest Montana for over 20 years. State Senator, District 6 since 2016.
Why are you running for this particular public office?
Montana needs a steadfast leader to guide Montana through these uncertain times created by the ravages of this Coronavirus pandemic and our Governor’s response to it. As an Air Force veteran, a medical doctor and an experienced state legislator, I have the unique qualifications and experience necessary to lead Montana out of the greatest economic and health crisis we have experienced since the Great Depression and the Spanish Flu. I will work with the Montana Legislature as a true equal partner to create new laws and remove old burdensome regulations that suppress our businesses, our economy and our people. I will actively manage our State agencies to ensure that they serve all Montanans with a sense of urgency and compassion. I will work with our County commissioners to customize our state’s Coronavirus response to fit each county’s specific needs while adhering to the Montana and US Constitutions. I am the best governor candidate to lead Montana through this crisis and its aftermath.
What makes you qualified to hold this position?
I have 13 years of military leadership experience in the United States Air Force as a Flight Surgeon and Rapid Mobility Trauma Surgeon. I have six years of legislative experience. I am the current State Senator of Senate District 6 since 2016. I am the former State Representative for House District 11, from 2014 to 2016. I am a Healthcare policy expert and have advocated for affordable healthcare for 20 years. I am a small business owner for over 22 years.
What are three policy issues that distinguish you from your opponent(s)?
First, I oppose the CSKT Water Compact and Senator Daine’s federal legislation that modifies this water compact and makes it worse. This is an unconstitutional and unlawful taking of the water rights of 350,000 western Montanans and then gives those water rights to a small third party without remuneration to the people of Montana. Montana’s constitutional rights, including the waters of western Montana, are worth fighting for. If my two opponents in the Republican Party are willing to compromise away our constitutional water rights, what other constitutional rights will they compromise upon if they are Governor.
Second, I believe we can do better than Medicaid Expansion for Montana’s working poor and will replace it and then repeal it in Montana. This program may be the most fraudulent program in our State’s history. A recent legislative audit completed at the beginning of 2020, found that 50% of the people in the program are ineligible to receive this entitlement. This is outrageous. We can do better than this for our working poor and for our taxpayers.
Third, Montana needs property tax relief now! As I travel across the state Montanans have told me that they cannot continue to afford their yearly property tax increases. As your next governor, I will freeze property taxes and then fundamentally reform the system. Montana deserves a 21st century transformation of our property tax system.
What are the greatest issues facing Montana that have gone unsolved by elected officials and how would you address them?
First and foremost, we must keep the State of Montana and our people financially solvent. Due to the Coronavirus collapse of Montana businesses, agriculture, and natural resource development, Montana State’s revenue collection is devastated. As your next Governor, I will work with the legislature to provide tax relief to all Montanans, eliminate the bureaucratic waste and abuse of our taxpayer money, and open the Coal Trust Fund if necessary, to save our people.
Second, despite this Coronavirus fiscal crisis, I will lead the efforts to provide significant property tax relief as one of my top priorities. Montana must freeze and then fix our property tax system. Property taxes are killing every day Montanans, before the arrival of COVID-19. We should not have to essentially “rent” our private property from the government.
As your next Governor, I have the plan to make healthcare affordable and accessible again for Montanans everywhere. Unlike my opponents, I have the proven track record of creating legislation. I am also the only candidate who understands the complex medical system and how to fix it. During the 2019 legislative session, I sponsored two innovative healthcare regulation bills that would have lowered the costs of health insurance premiums and the cost of prescription medications. Unfortunately, these bills were killed in committee by the legislators who championed Medicaid Expansion and vetoed by Gov. Bullock, respectively. As your next Governor, we will pass these two bills into law. Furthermore, we will continue to protect Montanans with pre-existing health conditions, end the practice of surprise billing and deliver true transparency to Montana’s healthcare system.