Tuesday, November 4, 2008

HOUSE DISTRICT 97: Another term for Reinhart



Democrat Michele Reinhart won a second term as state representative Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Carol Minjares in House District 97.

Reinhart had the lead after the first absentee votes were counted and was still ahead by 1,569 votes with 98 percent of the precincts reported. Reinhart had 2,967 votes (67.82 percent) to Minjares’ 1,398 (31.95 percent).

Reinhart, 28, stopped into the Missoula County Courthouse Tuesday evening just as the second round of votes were released. When she saw the percentages for the House District 97 race, her first response was, “Oh, poor Carol.”

But her sympathy was short-lived as the congratulatory phone calls started coming in.

Reinhart rattled off her priorities as she dashed down the courthouse stairs. Emphasize energy efficiency in institutions, businesses and homes. Develop zero and low interest loans for sustainable businesses.

“But the big picture is working on green jobs creation, the economy, and education,” she said. “We need to connect the dots between all of those and find the funding. I want everyone to contact me with ideas and priorities.”

Throughout her campaign, Reinhart was approachable and in the public eye. In the two weeks before the election, Reinhart participated in six public panels and talked to thousands of constituents door-to-door.

Minjares, 59, made few public appearances, including one where she stayed only long enough to make her statement. She appeared to focus her campaign efforts on the Internet, posting to VoteSmart.org and regularly updating her own blog, Missoulapolis.

Although she works one-on-one with local and state governments as a proposal writer and attorney, her interaction with constituents was limited and she was unavailable for comment on election night.

Reinhart has specific suggestions for state budget management. She would eliminate tax loopholes so state income increases without raising taxes. She also favors maintaining a “rainy day” fund so the current surplus can postpone future deficit.

Reinhart said she would put her job as a Missoula city planner on hold when she gets to Helena in January.

“It’s time to keep kickin’ butt and workin’ hard for the people of Missoula and Montana.”

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