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Powers, Mitchell, announce candidacies, but in different districts

by CHRIS PETERSON
Hungry Horse News | January 17, 2024 1:00 AM

Democrat Debo Powers has announced her candidacy for House District 3 this coming election,  but the district, which once included the city of Columbia Falls and all of the Canyon to Essex, has vastly changed under redistricting.

House District 3 now includes the north and west side of Whitefish and surrounding countryside along with Polebridge, West Glacier, and Essex as well as the north end of Columbia Falls outside of the city limits, like Meadow Lake and Vetville.

Columbia Falls city proper is now in House District 4 along with the City of Whitefish. House District 5 includes rural Columbia Falls east of the Flathead River and then south along Highway 2 and then back to the west all the way to Whitefish Stage Road.

Republican Braxton Mitchell, who is the current House District 3 representative, is running for the House District 5 seat, he confirmed last week.

Powers lost to Mitchell in the 2022 election, now they will be in separate races.

“I am running for re-election to the Montana House of Representatives to continue serving the folks in our community. During the 2023 session, I sponsored 10 bills and successfully passed nine of them, which demonstrates my commitment to effective legislative work. As a second-term member of the House of Representatives, I strive to represent the interests of my constituents and address the needs of our community. My track record of sponsoring and passing legislation reflects my dedication to making a positive impact and bringing about meaningful change through the legislative process. I was able to spend some of this past weekend with President Donald Trump and he told me to stick with it and keep fighting and that’s what I’m going to continue doing for the people of Montana,” Mitchell said.

Powers is a former high school teacher, K-8th grade principal, and community leader. She serves Flathead County on the Resource Advisory Committee and participated in the Whitefish Range Partnership. She lives in House District 3 in a solar-powered house north of Polebridge and works in HD3 as a volunteer backcountry ranger in Glacier National Park and a fire lookout for Flathead National Forest, she said in a release. She first came to the North Fork in 1979 and has owned property there since 1996.

“I had different groups call me and ask me to run,” she said. “It’s winnable by a Democrat now.”

She said she’s a public lands advocate, noting that about 93% of the district is public land.

“People live in the district because they want to be close to public lands,” she said. She said she also hopes to address property tax increases in the next session.