The reason that I am running for HD 64 is to bring common sense back to our government. We Montanans have always prided ourselves on our ability to find common ground on difficult issues, and electing legislators that reach across the aisle to find working solutions for the challenges facing our communities. I will be that voice for you in Helena, and will focus on the issues facing all Montanans, like affordable housing, access to justice, healthcare and expanding access to our public lands.
I was born and raised in HD 64. I was lucky enough to be able to move back to Bozeman after law school in 2002 and back to the district in 2013. We are close to my parents who still live in our family home in Four Corners and are happy that we are raising our son here. My parents instilled in me the importance of serving our community. My father, Gary Griffith, served as the Chair of the Monforton School Board for 30 years. My mother, Linda Griffith, was involved with Eagle Mount for more than 20 years, 10 of those as Executive Director. Like my parents, I also have served our community in a variety of ways, both through my work and my volunteer experiences. I taught debate at Monforton, I am the coach of the Mock Trial Team in Big Sky, served on the boards of nonprofits Reach and Morningstar Learning Center, and volunteered my time at Eagle Mount and the Gallatin Legal Assistance Clinic.
I have been practicing law for almost 20 years. Most of my practice is dedicated to representing owner’s associations. I help them with everything from redrafting their governing documents so that their rules actually address the needs of the community, working with government agencies on infrastructure, acting as a mediator between neighbors who may not see eye to eye on a subject and when all else fails, going to court to argue on their behalf, and helping them preserve property values. Basically, I am like a legislator for my associations. I work hard to get their needs addressed through changes in their laws and working with various branches of government.
I hope to take my decades of experience giving my clients a strong voice in their communities and in court and put it to good use representing us in Helena. I believe together, we can find the common sense solutions to the real challenges facing our state today. Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, needs and concerns. I look forward to serving you in Helena.
Housing is a basic human need. However, many in our district cannot find secure housing and are spending far more than the recommended 30% of their income on housing. Studies show that housing cost-burdened families have greater stress relating to food security, health care, retirement and transportation. In other words, housing is critical to our economic vitality. Restrictive land use and subdivision laws are a key factor in housing shortages as they prohibit needed density. I have helped a number of Associations amend their governing documents to allow for ADUs (accessory dwelling units) and more density within their subdivisions. When elected I will propose legislation that will address these restrictive laws, and support affordable housing solutions for our workforce.
As Americans, we rely on our civil legal system to address many of life’s important problems, like divorce, discrimination, landlord/tenant issues, domestic violence and business disputes. While our system is a powerful tool, it can be difficult to navigate without the help of a trained attorney. I want to change that. I have worked on access to justice for years, including organizing the Gallatin County Legal Assistance Clinic, which provides access to an attorney to help fill out forms and learn about the system. I helped low income Gallatin County citizens fill out legal forms, including petitions for dissolution, parenting plans, child support, and helped them understand how a case would progress. (Just for you, a forms bank: https://courts.mt.gov/Forms/) As the Secretary/Treasurer of the bar, I supported rule changes that allow attorneys to take on only part of a case, when needed. This is called Limited Scope Representation. This is useful because many people cannot afford an attorney for all of their case, but this allows an attorney to work on one part of the case, like the legally intensive motions for summary judgment, or maybe even just to appear at trial. When elected, I will continue to work tirelessly to open more doors for everyone within our district to have fair access to our courts.
Montana is lucky to have millions of acres of Federal and State public lands. I have spent my life enjoying the unparalleled hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and camping these lands offer. However, it is estimated that over 3 million state and Federal acres are landlocked, with no access. When elected I will support the Unlocking Public Lands program, and support new ways to improve access. I will also work to balance the interest of land owners with conservation efforts and to find win/win solutions to issues like access, just as I have done through my legal career, which includes securing the Bear Canyon Access that many Gallatin residents enjoy today.
Like access to justice, access to affordable health care and insurance is increasingly difficult to find. Many of our families sacrifice health insurance or preventative health care (like your annual visit) in order to afford housing in our district. Fortunately, Montana funded expanded Medicaid last year, which provides healthcare coverage to almost 10% of Montana’s population. Studies have shown that not only does expanded Medicaid improve individual’s healthcare and well-being, it created thousands of jobs and millions in income for Montanans, as well as reducing overall state spending and boosting state revenues. When elected, I will continue to support this program, and seek other avenues to provide access to affordable healthcare and insurance, like bolstering telecommunication heath or allowing nurse practitioners to do more (much like the Montana Bar is looking at allowing paralegals to help with certain forms and areas of law.) https://mthcf.org/wp-content/