Dick in front of Main Hall at UM



About Dick

Here's a little personal history that might help explain why I am seeking election to the Montana Senate and why I believe I can do a good job representing my nieghbors in Senate District 47.

I have lived most of my adult life in Montana, but before I came here in 1970, I had lived elsewhere in the country – on both coasts – and in Colombia as a Peace Crops volunteer. My father was an Episcopal clergyman, so we moved around a fair amount. Both my parents believed strongly that it was important to be involved in political and social causes, and taught their kids to be involved as well.  I graduated from Swarthmore College in economics in 1964, was in the Peace Corps from 1964 to 1966, and then attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where I finished my Ph.D. in 1972.

My wife, Sharon, and I moved to Missoula in 1970, from Madison, Wisconsin, where we met as graduate students. I had been hired by the Economics Department at the University, and Sharon, who’s a journalist, found a job at the Missoulian. We have been in Missoula ever since then, although from time to time we spent semesters working and teaching in Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. In 1980, Sharon moved from editing the Missoulian to teaching at the Journalism School. In 2007, after “going to college” together every day for twenty-five years or so, we retired.

During one of those stays in Mexico, our daughter, Myra was born. She grew up in Missoula, and is now living in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she is a veterinary radiologist in private practice and a faculty member in the veterinary school at Colorado State University. Her husband, Dave Frisbie, also on the CSU faculty, is an equine orthopedic surgeon with an extensive research program and an international clinical practice. Myra and Dave have a two year old daughter, Siena Carson Frisbie.

We Montanans profoundly value where we live. We love the landscape – the mountains, rivers and forests – that surround us. We treasure the time we spend hiking, hunting, fishing, floating, skiing or just driving down the road watching the world go by. And we relish our communities and all the things that go on in them: Out to Lunch, Griz games, bike lanes, walking in the Rattlesnake… too many, really, to name.  Like so many other people, I am devoted to and have stayed in Montana because it is a great place to live. And I’ve come to realize that protecting the natural and social environments that sustain the way we live in Montana is essential to our wellbeing.

Dick canoeing through rapidsI have learned about another important aspect of Montana. It’s a place where we do things on a manageable scale: our communities, social organizations, schools, businesses and government aren’t too big to be open and accessible. That means that anybody who wants to can get involved, in one way or another, in the life of the place.  Since I wanted that kind of involvement, over the years I served as president of the University Faculty Association and treasurer of the Montana Federation of Teachers. I volunteered with or served on the boards of the Missoula Food Bank, Missoula Planned Parenthood, the Missoula Whitewater Association, the Democratic Central Committee, Missoula Medical Aid and Montana Conservation Voters. In the 1980s, I was a member of the Governor’s Economic Development Council. Working in those settings, I developed political, management and negotiation skills.

Dick in Honduras on a Missoula Medical Aid visitGetting deeply involved with these concerns also influenced my work as an economist. After the Peace Corps, I began my career intending to make the economies of Latin America my specialty. And while Sharon and I have been in Mexico and South America many times, gradually much more of my research, teaching and writing focused on Montana and the Mountain West.

Had you asked me about it in 1970, I would never have guessed that living in Montana would end up so thoroughly shaping my life: how I would spend my leisure time, the kinds of political and social commitments I would have, or what I would end up doing as an economist at the University. But it did, and I am glad for it.

We can’t live in the past, of course, and we can’t expect our kids to live their lives exactly as we led ours. But they should be able to enjoy the same strong communities and schools, the same clean waters and wild places, and the same health and vitality that we have. Or even more. That’s the future I want to work for, and that’s why I am seeking re-election.

Dick with his horse

In the 2009 session I served on the House Tax; Transportion; and Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committees. In 2011 I again served on the House Tax, as well as Natural Resources and Local Government Committees, and during the current interim I am serving on the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission and the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee.  I have found that my background in economics is particularly helpful in dealing with the host of complex and controversial policy issues I encounter as a legislator. Although it's easy to get bogged down in the numbers and the technicalities, I want to continue to work on these issues and for a tax system that is fair, progressive, simple, and efficient and that secures the revenue needed for government to supply essential services.

If you have any questions about my background or qualifications, I’d be happy to answer them. Just email me or click here to post the question on the Ask Dick page.