HELENA — Kaitlyn Ruch is running as a Republican for Montana’s House District 84 encompasses East Helena and southeastern Helena. She is running against Democrat Jill Cohenour.
Raised in Helena, Ruch is currently a student a Carroll College. She’s been politically active in recent years and worked as a page for the Montana House of Representatives during the 2021 Legislative Session.
The key issues she would like to see addressed by the legislature are property taxes, economic relief and helping Montana graduates stay in state.
Check out MTN's full interview, including verbatim, with Kaitlyn below.
What is your name, party and seat you are running for?
My name is Kaitlyn Ruch, I am a Republican and I'm running for House District 84.
What is your occupation and history in the area?
I have lived in Helena, pretty much all my life. I went through our Helena public schools in elementary, Helena Middle, Helena High, and now I'm a student at Carroll College.
Why did you choose to run for the legislature?
You know, growing up, my parents taught me that there are two ways to address a problem, you can sit and complain about something or you can step up and do something about it. And that is the mentality I brought when I decided to run for the legislature. I was very involved last session on a variety of issues, and I was a page for the House of Representatives. And I really just fell in love with the legislative process and how an idea becomes a bill becomes a law. And I just decided that I could see myself getting involved with that. And I decided, you know, why not? Let's do it. I think I can make some positive change here.
What are three key issues you believe needs to be addressed by the legislature?
Absolutely. Thank you for the question. I think the number one issue right now facing Montana families are the challenges that this economy is placing on Montana families. You know, property taxes within District 84 have increased over 100%, these last handful of years. Inflation is through the roof right now, gas prices aren't that far behind. And I've heard out talking to voters time and time again, there's really not a door I knock on where rising costs aren't an issue that the voter brings up. And so I think first and foremost, the legislature really needs to do something to address rising costs, and give a little bit of economic relief back to Montana families. And that's probably the number one issue facing Montana right now. Other issues that I'm passionate about our education, as a student from public education to private education, it gives me a really good insight as to what in our education system works well, what doesn't work well, what can be improved, and especially how the pandemic has influenced students and how they learn. Because I was a sophomore in high school when the pandemic first started. And now I'm a freshman in college, and I'm running for the legislature. So needless to say, lots have changed. And I think that there's a lot to address there.
Your third issue?
I think that overall the rising costs, education and making Montana a more prosperous place for future generations, that's one of the issues I'm most passionate about, as a young person, I'm concerned for our state and how it's going to be in the future. I know Montana has been the best place to grow up. And I want to keep it that way for future generations. And so I think addressing rising costs, that's first and foremost, but creating good paying jobs, so kids can stay in state in the Montana that we know and we love. Because a lot of the time I hear from my peers, you know, I'm going to have to move out of state to find a job eventually, or I don't want to stay in Montana forever. But if our future generations move away, what will we have here. And so I think, increasing the amount of jobs in different industries that we have. And that goes back to more of an educational issue, making sure that we have the educational opportunities that students need, encouraging not only for your colleges, but trade schools and education in the trades, that is super important as well. And then finally, to get people to stay here, we need to address our housing crisis. Because right now, it's really tough for anyone who is a millennial or a member of Generation Z, to even think about owning a home or even paying rent. And so if we want children to stay here in state, that's another thing that we need to address head-on.
State leaders have indicated that there is over a billion dollar surplus possible for the state budget next legislative session. Where do you believe that money should go?
I am absolutely in favor of returning at least a portion of that money back to the taxpayers. At the end of the day, It's not the government's money. It's money that the taxpayers have paid to the government, and the government isn't using it. And so especially with the economic challenges that we're facing right now, I'm sure that most Montana families would be happy to see a few $1,000 back in their bank accounts have their own hard earned money. So I'm in favor of returning at least a portion of that money to the taxpayers.
Over the last couple of election cycles, elections have become a popular discussion points in politics. What are your thoughts on the state of Montana elections?
Absolutely. I am confident in our Montana elections. We have a wonderful Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, and the work that she and her office does in order to make sure that our elections are fair and free is absolutely phenomenal. Locally, we've got a great County and a great City that also works hard to ensure that our elections are fair and free. And so I'm confident that with laws passed by the last legislature and possibly future bills to bring forward that we can all work together to ensure that you know, all parties are happy and then our elections remain fair and free and that people can trust that their vote counts because that really does matter.
Is there anything else you want to say that we haven't covered so far?
I mean, I would just say that if you're ready for a fresh voice in the legislature, I am here and running to work for you. That is my biggest thing I got into politics, not for myself, but for the people in District 84. My favorite part about running this campaign is just getting out and talking to voters and listening to what they care about, because what they care about is truly what I care about. And it's such a vibrant community over there in East Helena and here into Helena, and I just want to do my best to serve them. And so I would just encourage everyone, to you know, get to know the candidates get to know the race and I'd sure appreciate your vote.