My wife, Laurie, and I are about to plant. It’s our 44th year of putting seed into the ground just outside of Culbertson, on the banks of the Missouri. We’re the third generation of Mattelins to do so on this spot.
It’s an act of faith and determination, planting, not knowing what weather or markets will bring. But it’s also a commitment to our family, to our community, and our country.
I’ve often thought that how we educate our kids is rooted in that exact same commitment—investment in each other and the future. That’s why my family has five generations of teachers— my great-grandfather, grandmother, mother, and sisters all taught. They understood that a community’s future is its kids. And I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter who carried on the family tradition to dedicate herself to children and Montana’s future.
Education levels the playing field in our state and country. But it only works if access to quality education is equal for all. Years ago on an agricultural trade mission to Asia, I was unprepared for the contrast I saw in living conditions from high-rise condos in Hong Kong to the slums of Manila. For the children I saw that were born into poverty, their destiny was predetermined, unlike here, where education — along with hard work — offers a child with humble beginnings an opportunity for a bright future.
That picture stuck with me and made me see the value of good government. It is not happenstance that our government supports farmers – it’s because our society knows the value of abundant and healthy food. It is not happenstance that our government supports public education – it’s because our society sees the value and promise of educating our kids. It’s what makes me honored to come from a family of hard working teachers and farmers.
That’s why, when Whitney Williams asked me to be her running mate, I said yes. I realized that to ensure a government that works for all of us, we need to ensure rural Montana has a voice in Helena.
And it’s why, even as normal turns upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic, I have faith that Montana will stay Montana and pull through.
We don’t know what the new normal will be. But I believe we need someone like my running mate, Whitney Williams, to be our next governor. She’s a problem solver and has experience bringing diverse people to the table to find solutions. We can no longer afford to stay in the same silos and must work together for Montana’s future generations.
This pandemic presents us with challenges that we hadn’t anticipated, but some of the basics of what we need to chart our future have become abundantly clear. We need to level the playing field, and bring broadband internet to all corners of our state: so that all kids have access to the learning opportunities it brings, so that all businesses have access to the markets and telecommuting opportunities it brings, and so that our rural health clinics can provide consistent telemedicine that links specialists in our cities with patients in our rural communities.
We need to level the playing field with our agricultural markets, too. We are about to see the effects of a handful of meatpackers supplying our nation with meat, as packing plants shut down in the Midwest. For years, producers have tried to bring a meat plant back to Montana, and Whitney and I will work with laser focus to get that job done.
These are just a couple of examples of the kind of work that needs to get done. As our economy changes and grows, to tackle new challenges, we need a new generation of leadership, a fresh perspective, and someone tough enough to win. I believe deeply that Whitney Williams is just that person, which is why I am on her ticket. Join our team.
Buzz Mattelin is a third-generation Montanan, farmer, President of the National Barley Growers Association, and Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor