He’s done so before, but this time he hopes to win.
He could use your help with that, and that pretty much comes down to voting for him in November.
Yep, that’s 10 months (or 284 days), but who’s counting?
If you’re running you probably are, and some of those people might have been there tongight…but we’ll get to that later.
First, let’s talk about Mark Sweeney.
Mark Sweeney was born in 1959 in Butte but grew up in Miles City. He went to Western Montana College and got a degree in Natural Resource Management in 1982.
After that he headed to Anaconda to work in the fish hatcheries, a job he had for 26 years.
Mark Sweeney currently owns Sweeney Blue Ribbon Real Estate, where he also acts as a broker. He splits his time between Anaconda, Helena and Philipsburg.
Sweeney’s Time as a County Commissioner
He got elected in 2006 “to finish the remaining term of former Commissioner Paul Beausoleil Sr., who died in office.”
Sweeney went ahead and ran for the term outright in 2008 and was elected, beating out Gene Vuckovich.
Then he had to retire. At the time he was just 53-years old. The Montana Standard had an article on Sweeney in July 2012 that discussed this.
The problem is one that many politicians run into, and that’s the fact that they can’t collect their state employee pension if they jump into another state job…which elected office technically is (Missoulians will remember Nancy Wilson recently having this problem in the House).
The article talks about how Sweeney, “under pressure to start collecting retirement,” resigned from his position as an Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commissioner.
Mainly, he’d been forgoing retirement checks for 7 months and just couldn’t afford to keep doing that.
You see, Sweeney had been with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for his career, working out Anaconda’s Washoe Park Trout Hatchery as a manager.
He’d retired from that job in January 2012 to run for the PSC out of District 1, though he lost in the primary by around 300 votes to John Vincent, then an incumbent.
So really…this guy wants to be on the PSC!
The Independent Record had a more up-to-date article about Sweeney in May 2015, when he announced he’d be running for the PSC.
Sweeny is now running for the PSC’s District 4, which he can do because he moved to Philipsburg, which is included in the boundaries.
That means he’ll be running against Bob Lake of Hamilton.
We looked at both Bob Lake’s and Roger Koopman’s finances a bit back in April 2015. Take a look.
According to the IR, District 4 contains seven counties that stretch from Libby to Hamilton. Those are:
“Missoula accounts for most of its voters, but the district also includes the towns of Deer Lodge, Thompson Falls, Superior and Philipsburg.”
Sweeney began campaigning so early because he knew “the presidential and gubernatorial race will dominate the election news” starting in 2016 and “he wants to travel the district to meet voters and talk to them about what the PSC does.”
It was that idea of what the PSC does that I wanted to learn about. That’s why I went down to meet Mark Sweeney when he was in Missoula tonight.
Mark Sweeney in Missoula
It wasn’t really an event so much as a meet and greet. Really, it’s a way for him to introduce himself and also get a few campaign donations in the process.
I got there around 6:30 and there were just a handful of people, maybe 10 to 12.
One of them was a City Councilwoman and one was a lawyer for Mountain Water.
Yeah, the PSC would oversee some stuff having to do with the Mountain Water lawsuit.
That’s kind of the thing…what does the PSC do?
I asked that question to Mark Sweeney tonight, and he says that’s probably the question he gets the most.
- For the most part, the PSC will govern your water bill and garbage bill and sewer bill rates.
- If you’re in rural areas you might have some oversight for rural internet. Without that, Gianforte’s telecommuting plan would be bust.
- When it comes to taxi service and the new Uber, the PSC will be in that as well.
- And let’s not forget that the PSC has the final say on whether your Northwestern Energy power bill goes up or not.
When I pressed Sweeney on the power bill, he pretty much admitted that those bills won’t be going down.
I wasn’t surprised by this as I’d heard Travis Kavulla say about the same.
So when it comes to Northwestern Energy, we have to rely on people like Mark Sweeney to say, ‘hell no, that power bill won’t go up!’
I talked quite a bit with Mark about these issues and a few other things.
Some things that stood out to me were:
- He lived in a FW&P house on the fish hatchery in Anaconda, raising his two daughters there.
- One of his daughters lived in Mongolia for a time, working as a lawyer.
- His other daughter is going to law school in New York right now.
So obviously he did something right raising his kids.
I’d like to add that I thought there might be some big names at this event, but those are just supporters.
Overall, Mark is knowledgeable about what the PSC has jurisdiction over and will be your advocate at the table for all issues concerning your bill.
We have people like Hillary and Trump taking the spotlight.
Closer to home, there’s Gianforte and Bullock, and perhaps a little of Juneau and Zinke.
There just won’t be time for our underpaid and underappreciated TV and newspaper reporters to cover lowly candidates like those running for the legislature, Supreme Court, or PSC.
When it comes to the party spin machines, the blogs, mainly expect a lot of bullshit.
So it’s letter-writing campaigns, some mailings, and perhaps a bit of phone calls.
Mostly it’s meet and greets and hoping like hell there’s a lot of word of mouth advertising going on.
It’s still 10 months to election day so perhaps I’ll be wrong on that.
I don’t think so, however. No, expect little publicity. So try to share Mark Sweeney’s name for PSC.
You’ll have an easier time paying your power bill in the future because of it.