This is the latest profile in what will be a series of pieces highlighting candidates for the Montana Legislature in 2018.
Barbara Bessette is running for an open state house seat in district 24 in Great Falls. You can follow Barbara’s campaign for legislature here: Barbara Bessette for House
Barbara Bessette was recently awarded one the five under 35 awards in the Great Falls area for the 5 folks under the age of 35 whose attitudes and actions are helping Great Falls grow and improve.
Five under 35 article via KRTV
Who is Barbara Bessette?
I was born and raised in the wide open spaces of Montana. I’m currently a substance abuse prevention specialist for Gateway Community Services. I work in my community to reduce substance abuse among youth and young adults. I have served as the chair of Cascade County’s DUI Task Force, currently serves on a number of coalitions that help to fight substance abuse and work to make the community healthier. I’m also a barrel racer. My horse, Macy makes up the other half of our team. Growing up around rodeo and horses taught me the value of hard work. I also am a runner who enjoys one of the best running trails in Montana, the “River’s Edge Trail.” I can be seen running through my district as well. I have lived in my district for four years, but have strong ties to it as my aunt, uncle and cousin have lived in the district my entire life. They are like my second family, in fact ,my cousin and I call each other sister.
What got you involved in politics? Have you been engaged in politics your whole life?
I’m running for office because I don’t want to just talk about creating change I want to be the change. There are not enough young, women in the legislature and I need to make sure our voices are heard. I’m also Native American and they are the most underrepresented group in elected office. They are a vulnerable population that has many challenges. They deserve to be represented at all levels of government. I strongly believe that ALL people deserve to have their voices heard and I want to make sure that happens.
I have not been involved in politics my entire life. My parents are not very political at all. I had a great government teacher while I was in high school who first peaked my interest in politics. He would always challenge me to really think about things. Then in 2006, when Senator Tester was first running for U.S. Senator, I became even more aware. My uncle is big into politics and we started talking about them. From there my interest grew and here I am today.
What do you hope to accomplish at the legislature?
I want to bring awareness about substance use prevention and treatment. Prevention is important to all citizens under the big sky county. We all deserve to have healthy youth and adults to help keep the cost of healthcare low and to create opportunities for everyone. When we are all healthy, we create a stronger Montana. We have high rates of DUI’s and I want to create a culture where that changes. This issue touches every Montanan by increased insurance rates and medical expenses.
You can contribute to Barbara’s campaign here: DONATE
Who do you look to for inspiration and why?
There are so many people I look to for inspiration.
1. My mom, Ardythe Bessette is the first on my list. She is a strong woman, who raised me to be a strong woman and a hard worker. I would not be where I am today without her pushing me to be my best.
2. My cousin (“sister”), Brianne Wadsworth is another inspiration. She has overcome so much with her health, but she continues to be strong and fight through it. She is always there for me even if she is having a bad day.
3. One of our current Cascade County Commissioners, Jane Weber is my mentor in my life. She is a woman of passion and conviction. She has always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She has helped me become a better person, both professionally and personally.
How will you connect with voters in your district?
I have started knocking doors and will continue to do so until the election in November. I also have park events planned out for the summer to get people out and help them learn more about voting and to also learn about me. I also have various “meet and greets” scheduled in the months leading up to the election. We are going to be doing a series called, “Where in Great Falls is Barbara Bessette?” My team will be giving clues as to where I will be in Great Falls and a few days before the location will be revealed and people can come and meet with me. I believe it is important to meet with voters and talk with them and really listen to them. I also am attending neighborhood council meetings and city council meetings.
Anything else you’d like people to know?
“A vote for me is a vote for you.” (My slogan) Meaning this election isn’t about Barbara Bessette. It is about House District 24. Jean Price has done a great job representing HD 24. I want to continue her legacy.