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Guest opinion: Drug, crime epidemic must be met head-on
GUEST OPINION

Guest opinion: Drug, crime epidemic must be met head-on

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The day that my three children, all under the age of 12 at the time, experienced a shooting right outside their school in our small town of Culbertson, I knew I had to do more to put violent criminals behind bars. We had recently returned home from Helena, from my last session that I served in the House of Representatives, and I was picking up my private law practice where I left it. During my time in private practice I represented farmers, ranchers, small businesses and neighbors, and handled just about every type of legal question imaginable. But after that shooting, Christie and I knew that if we wanted our kids to grow up feeling safe and secure, we had to do more to stop the drug epidemic and put violent criminals behind bars.

As Roosevelt County Attorney, I’ve cleared the backlog of cases clogging our system and aggressively prosecuted violent criminals – including the person who did the drive-by shooting at my kid’s school. Mexican drug cartels are flooding Montana, and just about every other state in the nation, with meth and other dangerous drugs. That’s a fact. With the drugs comes a sharp increase in violent crime.

This isn’t just a problem in my part of the state. Since 2013, violent crime is up 36% in Montana according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Everybody has seen the impacts of the drugs and violent crime that are tearing our communities apart. Every day, our local, state and federal law enforcement officers work together with city and county prosecutors to make our communities safer. But to actually decrease crime rates, we have to do more to keep dangerous drugs off our streets.

It’s time that Montana has an Attorney General who puts the focus back on the number one responsibility. That’s not taking care of bureaucrats in Helena, that’s taking care of our kids and our communities.

My opponent in this race just doesn’t have the experience to understand how grave the situation is, and he plans to bring the radical liberal agenda that is tearing apart cities and towns across the country into the office if he gets the chance. It’s been just about five years since Raph graduated from law school, and in that time his legal experience in Montana has been working for Governor Bullock. For goodness sakes, Raph wants to be Montana’s top lawyer, but he’s never prosecuted a criminal, never had a jury trial and never even represented a private client in Montana.

If my time during the legislature in Helena taught me anything, it’s that a bloated bureaucracy doesn’t do anything to help everyday Montanans. That’s why, as Montana’s Attorney General, I’ll put a focus on moving some of the resources that have been held up in Helena out into communities where officials there can help law enforcement on the frontlines. I believe in the people who are “on the ground,” working in our unique communities, to know how best to use resources to address their biggest problems. I’ve seen firsthand where a small town in rural Montana could benefit from a little extra help from our AG’s office in Helena, and I believe all of our police and highway patrol officers need a leader who supports them.

Those of us who are fortunate to be elected to serve in an office need to remember that we do so at the pleasure of the people who sent us there, and that we have the obligation to use taxpayer resources in the most effective way possible.

I’m running for Attorney General because the drug and crime epidemic isn’t just a Roosevelt County problem, it’s a Montana problem. Our state needs an aggressive criminal prosecutor as the top law enforcement official. My opponent just doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation and the importance of the office. I'm the only candidate with the leadership and experience to be Montana's top attorney, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

Austin Knudsen, the Roosevelt County Attorney and former Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives, is the Republican candidate for attorney general.

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