Rhonda Whiteman

WHITEMAN

I have happy memories of how my father read The Billings Gazette every day, and we often discussed current affairs in our paper. In fact, running for office is a way of honoring my father’s life. He and my mother both grew up on the Crow Indian Reservation, but chose to make Billings their home more than 50 years ago in pursuit of the economic opportunities we have in the Magic City.

I am a Billings native, have spent most of my life as a resident of Billings, and am a Crow Indian. I believe the job of City Council member is to serve all residents of Billings with respect, compassion, and responsibility.

One of the problems I have noticed is the inconvenient planning of construction zones in our city. I have been careful to plan my driving routes to avoid construction only to encounter other construction sites that block access to detours. I’d like to help plan construction in a way that is structured for easier access to detours.

Another of the major concerns in Billings is the rise in crime such as theft, burglary and human trafficking. I am very concerned about safety in our community and would support and seek to fund the addition of more first responders, including police officers, with special attention paid to training on dealing with our increasingly diverse community.

Billings continues to attract young people and young families who strengthen our community. Part of the appeal of Billings now is that we have the beginnings of a local rebirth of culture and the arts that provides entertainment and pride in our community’s creativity. It is important to me that we foster business interests and the current creative movement.

Our city is growing, and we have the power to be good stewards for future generations of Billings by making choices that protect our economy, land, air and water quality. As someone who directly benefited from a local refinery, I recognize that we need to move forward with industry to create good jobs and protect our beautiful community for future generations.

I attended Billings Public Schools, with the exception of one year at Fratt Parochial School, and graduated from Billings Senior High School. During high school, my first job was as a page in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. I studied film and television production at New York University. During college, I spent one summer working at the Billings Conoco Refinery and one in Washington, D.C., as a paid intern at the Smithsonian Institution. Chronic health issues brought me home to Billings to access support and better health care.

My father also developed health issues and ended up retiring after 37 years as a proud employee at Conoco Phillips Refinery in Billings. Over time, I became a care provider for my father until his death nearly two years ago from heart problems.

I respectfully ask you to vote for me to represent Ward 5, Billings City Council.

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