By KYLE LEHMAN and ELIZABETH DIEHL
Republican Ray Hawk soared high Tuesday night as Ravalli County voters re-elected him to House District 90.
Three terms of experience and a platform of reducing taxes and supporting small businesses paid off as Hawk won 60 percent of the votes to Gritzner’s 40 percent, 3,116 to 2,120 votes.
“I had no idea it was going to be this close,” Hawk said, after hearing the results for absentee ballots before turning in for the night. He was unavailable for a comment on his victory.
Hawk, 67, entered politics after a career in banking. He ran on a platform of conservative policies. His primary goals, he said, will be to eliminate the state’s business equipment tax and reduce property taxes.
Hawk’s opponent, Yvonne Gritzner, a volunteer with Montana Public Broadcasting and former program director for Montana Committee for the Humanities, said that defeating an incumbent is always hard. Ravalli County, especially, is a “Republican stronghold,” she said.
“I think that people do feel it is time for a change,” she said. “I think that my views on healthcare and education rang true.”
The two candidates were divided over issues such as further funding for public education, alternative energy and taxation.
While Gritzner thought that public education in Montana is extremely under funded, Hawk disagreed, saying during the campaign that current school funding is adequate.
Hawk also disagreed with Gritzner on the immediacy of alternative energy
“Right now we have to pursue coal and natural gas, we can’t pursue enough alternative energy to meet the needs of the population,” Hawk said earlier.
Though Gritzner was disappointed with the results, she believes there are Ravalli County residents who are ready for a change.
“You always feel like you could have done more,” she said.