Candidate Questionnaire: Rick Tryon
Occupation: Digital Communications Consultant
Family: Married 34 years, two daughters, three grandkids
Brief background/experience that’s relevant to City Commission:
- Managed a small family business in Great Falls for 5 years (The Jack Club)
- Government Affairs Director for the Great Falls Association of REALTORS for almost 4 years advocating for private property rights, home ownership and economic development locally and statewide.
- Helped lead the effort to organize and coordinate the successful 2014 Great Falls Housing Summit
- Organized and led the Great Falls Development Task Force in 2012 comprised of REALTORS, the local Chamber of Commerce, Homebuilders Association of Great Falls, Great Falls Landlords Association and local Property Managers Association,
Q: What is your view on privatization of services currently being provided?
A: No privatization of police, fire or emergency services. Almost everything should be open to consideration.
Q: Do you support the continued operation of the Natatorium or other indoor municipal swimming facility?
A: Only if it can be maintained and operated without raising taxes or imposing a new levy.
Q: Most people don’t like increasing taxes or fees for services. Do you believe the city fees for service should increase as costs increase? If not, what services do you believe the city should subsidize and how should the city pay for those services?
A: I believe the city should not raise taxes or fees for essential services without making every possible effort to pay for increased costs through efficiencies and cuts on its side of the ledger.
Q: Given the limited resources available, which one of these would you identify as your top priority: funding mental health and addiction treatment programs, hiring more police officers, or improving community relations with the existing police force?
A: Hiring more police officers.
Q: If you are elected, how will you ensure that neighborhoods look and feel safe and how will you measure success?
A: More community policing, hire more cops. Measure by the DDACTS quarterly reporting system currently in place.
Editor’s note: DDACTS is Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety and currently applies primarily to the downtown area.
Q: What do you think the role of the city commission should be in economic development and do you believe a more active role could create conflicts of interest when it comes to annexation, zoning or tax incentive votes that would require commission approval?
A: City Commission should be more proactive in economic development by aggressively pursuing the following policies:
- The motto and attitude for all city public officials and staff should always be, “How can we serve you and help you succeed?” and not, “You can’t do that!”
- Work towards less red tape and fewer regulatory ‘hoops’ for businesses and citizens.
- Learn what other state and regional towns and cities are doing to succeed, grow, and expand opportunities and don’t be afraid to adapt and adopt those policies to Great Falls.
Q: Some have suggested Great Falls needs to grow and attract more people to town and also companies offering higher paying wages. Do you have any concern that rapid growth or an influx of higher paying jobs would lead to increased housing costs and increased cost of living and traffic, like what’s been seen in Bozeman and Missoula? Why or why not, and could those issues be mitigated?
A: Steady, measured, manageable growth is far preferable boom growth. We have neither now.
Q: The city has 57 parks. Some consider the park system as an asset in recruiting businesses, new residents and tourists. Others have suggested selling parks to reduce maintenance costs. Since the funds from park sales must go back into the park and rec department, do you support the sale of any city parks?
A: If our park system can’t be properly and affordably maintained then I’m not opposed to selling off the parks that are rarely if ever used and focusing resources on our main parks.
Q: State law allows the city to impose a mill levy sufficient to generate the amount of property taxes annually assessed in the prior year plus one-half of the average rate of inflation for the prior three years. In recent years, city departments have been asked to reduce their budgets, which can mean a reduction in services for citizens. What is your opinion of the utilization of the inflationary factor and for what reasons would you impose or not impose the increased tax?
A: City Commissioners cannot change state law. I am opposed to any local tax increases unless we see real, sustained growth. The key to funding our city is growth, rising incomes and an expanding tax base. We cannot continue on the current path of putting the tax burden on homeowners, many of whom live on a fixed income, and small businesses.
Q: How do you think the city should balance flexibility in working with business development and ensuring the city’s interests are protected from development that might not have a positive effect in the city?
A: Public input and engagement. Total honest, transparency and full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest between business development and city government. There needs to be more flexibility and less regulatory micro-management by the city, but public safety concerns should never be compromised.
Q: Neighborhood councils were created by a public vote in 1996 after a public review of the city’s form of government. Two decades ago people that city government could be inaccessible and the councils were created as a stepping stone. Today, council meetings often have poor attendance. How would you make better use of the Neighborhood Council system?
A: I’m not sure.