EDITOR’S NOTE: Kirk Bushman and Chuck Tooley issued the following statements in their race for the Public Service Commission. Mr. Bushman is a Republican; Mr. Tooley is a Democrat.
I would like to be your Public Service Commissioner because there needs to be conservative voice on the PSC. I will be professional and respectful, make responsible decisions for my kids and yours; and will use my experience for the benefit of the Montana ratepayers.
I have accumulated an abundance of valuable experience in the last 20-plus years that would serve me well on the Public Service Commission. I have been employed as a pool cleaner, driveway sweeper, cement worker, greens keeper, stock boy, bus boy, dishwasher, drafter, truck driver, log home builder, pipefitter helper, laborer, announcer, field engineer and project manager.
My professional career began when I graduated in 1988 from Montana State University Bozeman with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology. I was hired as a field engineer in the corrugated container industry, yes, cardboard boxes. As a field engineer, I was fortunate to travel to many of the states, European countries and others such as Canada, Australia, Columbia, Thailand and more.
Working with people from different countries, speaking different languages, added to the many challenges that already existed. I was involved in managing all phases of a project from construction and installation to training plant personnel as well as performing to the terms of sales contracts. This required overcoming cultural differences, language barriers, as well as dealing with each group’s business interest. Communication and professionalism were key values needed to be successful.
With my heart still in Montana, I chose to move back home to Billings. For the past 13 years I have worked with the engineering consulting firm, WorleyParsons (previously Unifield) Engineering, in the industrial engineering sector.
I have worked on projects with refineries, power plants, mining companies, silicon production facilities and more. Many were to meet government regulations, some were to increase production and efficiency, and some were to recycle outdated facilities that had been shut down.
In 2007, unwilling to leave the future to career politicians, I decided to run for the U.S. Senate in the Republican Primary. I promoted personal responsibility and smaller government. I was also chairman of the Yellowstone County Republicans for the last three years.
I was born and raised in Montana. I currently reside in Billings with my wife, Jill, and our three young children. Our children need responsible development of our natural resources to ensure their security in their education, utilities and jobs for the future.
The Montana Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating monopoly utilities in Montana — natural gas, electric, telephone, and private water and sewer companies. Commissioners regulate according to Montana law and make decisions that protect Montanans while allowing a fair rate of return for the utilities.
During 15 years in municipal leadership, I developed skills that will serve me well representing District 2 on the PSC. As mayor of Billings, I conducted hundreds of meetings and public hearings. I listened to all sides; I learned about operations, revenues and expenditures; and I developed ways of working with others that emphasized problem-solving.
My business career has taught me about fiscal responsibility, accomplishing goals and delivering services. I have been employed by a PSC-regulated utility and have also functioned as a utility regulator.
My experience includes:
• Six years with Mountain Bell using PSC-approved tariffs and gaining hands-on experience with deregulation, functional divestiture, and unbundling of services.
• Fifteen years as a policymaker and regulator of Billings Public Utilities, serving 30,000-plus customers.
• Board member of Montana Electric and Gas Alliance, organized at the time of the Montana Power Co. bankruptcy. As leaders in business and government, the board worked together to analyze and bid on MPC’s transmission /distribution facilities to bring them into public ownership.
• Founder/president of Tooley Communications, providing services in marketing, communications and public policy since 1984.
• Four years as director of Montana State University Billings’ Urban Institute, dealing with issues including community sustainability and water supply.
Public Service Commissioners must analyze complex information and make wise judgments for the public good. In my career I have worked with concepts from supercritical wet oxidation to tax-increment financing.
As a professional communicator, I can receive information on complicated subjects, understand it, organize it logically and then present it clearly. Whether in PSC chambers or talking with citizens, I will listen closely, speak clearly, and provide information that is usable and understandable.
Equally important is the need for all elected officials to maintain high professional standards. We need to deliberate with integrity and honesty; keep a strong bias toward facts and not personal agendas; always treat others with respect; and strive to build quality of life and protect equality of opportunity for all Montanans.
I have tried to hold to these standards during my 15 years in office in Montana. I would be honored to continue in that spirit as your Public Service commissioner.