By KAREN GARCIA and HEATHER ROUSSI
Republican incumbent Bill Nooney eeked out a win for the House District 100 seat Tuesday night, narrowly defeating his opponent Willis Curdy. The race stayed close until the end, with Nooney leading 1,727 votes over Curdy’s 1,503 as of midnight.
“This district is an anomaly in Missoula,” Democratic candidate Curdy said. “It’s a swing district, and it tends to lean Republican.”
Nooney, a small business owner, has served one term in the Montana Legislature. Curdy, who has limited political experience, has worked with the U.S. Forest Service as a smokejumper and taught history at Hellgate High School for 30 years.
One of the key issues during the race was a change in tax structure. During the campaign, Nooney said he would propose an “across–the-board” decrease in property taxes, while Curdy maintained that tax cuts would only exacerbate existing problems.
Energy costs were another point of contention. Nooney said Montanans should take advantage of coal reserves in the state and that drilling for oil is the most viable option for energy resources right now. Curdy championed the potential of geothermal and solar power as an alternative to traditional natural resources.
Curdy, 59, said although it may be too early to tell, he probably won’t run for office again.
“I’ve had to work hard,” Curdy said. “I’ve had a lot of help from folks. People have stepped up and said, ‘Yeah, I want to help,’ and that’s really paid off, regardless of whether we win or lose.”
Nooney could not be reached for comment.