Roger Gravgaard says it was “the encouragement from a lot of friends” that drew him into the Ward 2 race on the Billings City Council.
He’s the first and so far only candidate to file at the Yellowstone County Elections Office in the contest to succeed Angela Cimmino, who is term-limited after serving two terms.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics, and I’ve considered doing this for a while,” said Gravgaard, 57, who has owned and operated the Gravgaard Agency, an insurance services provider, for more than two decades.
While never having held public office, “I have served in a lot of capacities,” including a term as Montana’s representative to the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, where he says it was his job to advocate for consumers before the Montana Legislature and the Montana Commissioner of Insurance.
He’s a member of the Heights Business Optimist Club, “where I have learned there are a lot of concerns that people have. Some are unique to the Heights, and others, like public safety, are shared by others in the city.”
He said he was brought up to help others.
“In terms of service to the community, I had great examples growing up,” chief among them his parents and grandparents, he said. “I thought now was a good time to maybe give something back to the community in terms of my time.”
Gravgaard is married to Mia; they are parents to a 21-year-old daughter who’s pursuing her nursing degree at Montana State University Billings.
He said he sees growth, traffic, public safety and the city’s continued economic strength as key issues.
“Even though it seems like the economy is going along well, there are a lot of people who are falling through the cracks,” he said, “and a lot of people who are under-employed.”
One project that will be “the rising tide that lifts all boats” is the $14 million Inner Belt Loop completion, he said.
“Finishing that will be a huge asset, not only for the city but for our well-being,” he said. “It will lead to tremendous growth in commerce” by connecting Heights residents with the West End, he said.
Billings “is growing, and it will continue to grow,” he said. “We need to put ourselves in the best position possible to take advantage of the growth that is coming.”
“How are we going to receive the people who will be moving here?” he said. “We need to have a plan.”