Wednesday, November 5, 2008

HOUSE DISTRICT 94: It’s McAlpin again



A tight race in House District 94 ended Tuesday night with Democratic Rep. Dave McAlpin winning a third term by edging out Republican opponent Linda Frey.

With 99 of 101 precincts reporting, McAlpin is the apparent winner with 54 percent of the vote compared with Frey’s 46 percent, a 363 vote difference. McAlpin had 2,395 votes,and Frey had 2,032.

“It’s a closer race than I expected,” McAlpin said.

The Democrat said he was excited to continue representing House District 94.

“It’s a great district. It’s a working families’ district, and they’ve always been very supportive and I’m glad that they were supportive again this time around.”

The race saw the candidates running on separate platforms with little overlap.

Health care has been McAlpin’s top priority throughout his time in the House, an interest he says stems from his background in tobacco prevention work. What started as a fairly narrow focus during his freshman term – four of the 10 bills McAlpin sponsored then were anti-tobacco – has widened over his two terms to include general health care.

For his third term, McAlpin’s said his top priority will be to “continue to try and improve health care and access to affordable health care.”

McAlpin also said he’ll focus on education and employment.

“We need to continue to make sure that our education in our public schools is well funded, so that our kids are competitive in a world market, and then always the economic drumbeat of trying to create good paying jobs with benefits in Missoula.”

Frey, on the other hand, is a staunch opponent of property taxes and entered the race after her fight against the Hillview Special Improvement District, which would have raised taxes in the neighborhood to widen the road.

Frey, 61, has been a history professor at the University of Montana since 1991 and had no political experience before the election.

Despite running a close race, Frey has no future political plans.

“I’m anxious to get back to my books,” said Frey. “I don’t regret running. I had a fantastic time.”

Away from the legislature, McAlpin, 43, is the executive director of Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Missoula, a program that pairs community volunteers with child victims of abuse and neglect.

McAplin commended Frey on the close race, saying, “I will be happy to give my opponent, Professor Frey, credit for hard work. But I think that the issues prevailed in this election.”

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