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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Jennifer Fielder: 2020 General Election Q&A

Jennifer Fielder is the 2020 Republican candidate for public service commissioner region 3.
Jennifer Fielder is the 2020 Republican candidate for public service commissioner region 3.

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide general election 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 150 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

Jennifer Fielder is the 2020 Republican candidate for public service commissioner region 3.

What makes you the best candidate to represent your region on the Public Service Commission and how do you stand out from your opponent(s)?

I’m Independent: Unlike my opponent, I refuse to accept campaign contributions from any industry group or special interests. While my opponent is a career insider deeply entangled with companies that lobby the PSC, I am totally independent.

I’m unbiased: I believe Montanans deserve more options in the energy, telecommunications, transportation and sanitation services. I feel all industries should meet the same environmental, economic, and safety standards and be given equal opportunity. My opponent is a lawyer with a track record of heavy bias towards certain industries and against others.

I’m a Giver, Not a Taker: I didn’t get into politics for the paycheck. That’s why I pledged to donate half of my legislative take-home pay to charitable causes. In contrast, my opponent made a lot of money working for, working against, and/or suing the PSC and the companies it regulates. I serve the people, not the highest bidder.

What experience do you have in understanding the policy and regulation of electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunication industries?

In addition to 8 years as a lawmaker, my professional experience includes two decades of boots-on-the-ground planning, design, permitting and project management work that often related to the types of industries regulated by the PSC -- including railways, pipelines, electric generation, telecommunications, water works, solid waste disposal, and federal energy regulatory proceedings.

Additionally, I have managed complex legal and multi-million-dollar financial portfolios, similar to the caseload demands of the PSC. Plus, I served on numerous legislative committees that deal with PSC related functions, and I carried legislation to expand net metering in Montana.

My experiences in both the public and private sectors has given me a firm understanding of fair business practices, sound economics, and science-based environmental stewardship. My higher education includes 3 college degrees (Associate in Arts & Sciences, Associate in Applied Science, and a Bachelor of Science), and I graduated with the highest academic honors.

What would be your top three goals as a public service commissioner and how would you accomplish them?

I have 4 primary goals: To ensure we have 1) sustainable, reliable low-cost energy, 2) safe communities, 3) a healthy environment, and 4) a strong economy.

I intend to accomplish these goals by remaining focused on them as I evaluate any and all cases that come before the PSC. I will carry out the duties of this office with integrity and diligence, and I will not impose bias to suppress any viable energy, water/waste water, telecommunications, sanitation, or transportation alternatives.

Furthermore, I will embrace new ideas and technological innovations that improve efficiency, safety, affordability, and performance. As long as they meet proper environmental, economic, safety, and transparency standards, all providers of essential life service should be treated equally. It is vital that we are unbiased as we look ahead to ensure the best outcomes for the people of Montana.

What authorities of a public service commissioner do you believe should be used more or less than previous commissioners? Please provide specific examples.

  1. a) The power of the government should not be used to block some types of service providers while favoring others. All industries should have to meet the same requirements and be given equal opportunity under the law.
  2. b) I intend to ensure that our pipeline and railway safety divisions are administered with utmost care. I will thoroughly examine the inspection protocols for the safe construction, maintenance and operations of pipelines and railways under PSC jurisdiction. These corridors extend through many Montana communities and the condition of these structures could literally make a life or death difference on a mass scale.
  3. c) The public records of the Commissioners and staff should be filed and made reasonably available upon request. The public information on the website should be kept current also.

What other issues are important to your campaign? (300 word limit)

During my service as a Montana State Senator, I won awards for defending all Montanan’s rights, freedoms, and our treasured outdoor heritage. And I volunteered a lot of my time to lawfully improve public access, restore responsible management, and reduce wildfire threats on federal lands. For my work in these policy areas, I was invited to speak at the International Conference on Climate Change; the Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico State Chapters of the National Wildlife Society; and to testify before a U.S. Congressional Committee on Waters, Oceans, and Wildlife.

Contrary to certain propaganda myths, I was never part of any Bundy standoff, armed or otherwise, and I am not a “climate denier”.

My track record is squeaky clean. Throughout my 8 years in the legislature, I never made back room deals or traded votes. I never steered public funds into my own pockets or the pockets of any relatives or associates. I am totally against corruption and have a record of fighting against it, even within my own party.

My overall legislative attendance record exceeds 90%, and when I was excused, I always left my proxy instructions with another Senator to ensure that all key votes were cast.

I care about people and our environment. When I do something, I put both feet in and give it my all. I work hard and study deep. As a State Legislator, I worked a lot of long days and was often the last to leave the Capitol each night.

I am an objective, critical thinker. My unbiased approach, real-word experience, and genuine connection to the people of western Montana will help me to do an excellent job as our region’s next representative on the PSC

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