George Blackard

BLACKARD

LARRY MAYER Gazette Staff

The day I decided to run for City Council was the day I received a letter informing me of a meeting to discuss our city water rates going up yet again. That letter helped me make the decision to get involved and run for the City Council. Since then, the current council has addressed parts of the water issue that bothered me the most, but there is plenty of work to be done in other areas and I am ready to do my part. We live in the greatest country on the planet, one that allows us the ability to be involved with our local, state, and federal government and we should be as active in all of those as we are able.

I have experience on several successful committees and boards including the former Yellowstone County Veteran’s Cemetery Board, Big Sky Honor Flight Committee, American Legion National Legislative Committee, Congressional Liaison for the American Legion Department of Montana, and I serve as parliamentarian for the American Legion Department of Montana as well. I am used to participating in meetings like those of our City Council that are ruled by Roberts Rules of Order.

There are many issues our City Council must contend with, limited space makes it impossible to discuss them all at length so I will list just a few. We have streets in the middle of town that are not paved and have no gutters, there are parks that need to be developed, we have a drug, vandalism, and car theft problem. We are a growing city and we need to prepare now for future growth and expansion and be ready to have the facilities required to service all parts of our city.

There is no denying that we have a panhandling, transient, homeless problem in Billings. Recently, as I was walking in downtown to a City Council meeting, I was approached by five people who were obviously under the influence and who asked me for money. When I declined to give them any they proceeded to follow me and harass me until I entered the city court building. That is not what we want to see in our vibrant downtown area and nobody should have to endure harassment of this type in Billings. Unfortunately, often the people who need help the most and desire to change their circumstances are the people we do not see, they are not the ones harassing people. We need to aggressively address this issue, and, if our hands are tied by state law in some way, as they are for dealing with public drunkenness, we need to lead the charge to Helena and see that those laws are changed there so that we can do our job here and provide a safe environment for our citizens. I have experience in lobbying government at both the state and national levels and can help serve the council in that way.

George Blackard is a candidate for the Ward 4 seat in the Sept. 12 Billings Primary Election.

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