Editor’s note: The following story was written by a student in Professor Nadia White’s Public Affairs Reporting class

at the University of Montana. You are free to share or publish this story provided you retain the reporter’s byline. Questions? Email nadia.white@umontana.edu.

Walt Hill runs as an advocate for UM, Seeley Lake By Shanda Bradshaw

Walt Hill’s supporters say that he’s a rare breed in politics – a down-home but very intelligent man.

It’s hard not to recognize the wealth of knowledge Walt Hill brings to the race to represent House District 91. A retired biochemistry professor from the University of Montana, Hill, 71, has basically spent his entire life in a classroom. With his days as a university educator behind him, Hill still spends time teaching in the University of Montana research labs.

Hill, a Republican, lives in Seeley Lake and is running for the Legislature in order to pass on his knowledge of areas outside the lab and classroom.

Steve Lodmell, a close friend and fellow biochemistry professor, describes Hill as an intelligent man who is looking to continue his long career in education by promoting it in the Legislature. “He’s very passionate about education,” Lodmell said.

In an interview with the Missoulian, Hill stated that he strongly supports funding for the University of Montana’s building program. “The major building needs are for scientific

research laboratories and facilities, to allow creative and competitive research to be carried out in our universities,” he said. Hill was not available for this interview by deadline. “Such research creates jobs, creates new business and will attract high-tech companies,” Hill also told the Missoulian. Adding that through such funding and development the universities “become the economic engine for the state.”

Lodmell said that one of the key issues that spurred Hill to run for House District 91 is his feelings on the lack of university representation in legislature. “He thinks that if the university had better representation, it could go a long way,” Lodmell said.

With issues like university funding and Montana’s economy on the forefront, Hill’s campaign plans to address the issues that matter to him most in Legislature. He suggests that the state regularly invest in research and development at the university level.

“Our economy goes up and down, but I am convinced that it can be stabilized to some degree by improving our high-tech-type industries,” Hill told the Missoulian, “And this can only come through enhancing our research and development at the university level.”

Lodmell, Hill’s biochemistry research colleague for nine years, said that he thinks Hill is the man to accomplish this job. “Not everyone in the Legislature is a University of Montana professor and with Walt there he could be that someone who knows about the university,” he said.

Lodmell said that Hill decided to run for House District 91 because of his long career and strong pro-education stance. “He could accomplish a lot for the university as a representative and he thinks a lot can happen through improvements to the university,” Lodmell said.

People who know Hill in the Seeley Lake community see him more as family man and community leader than an educator..Hill is a member of the Seeley Lake Community Council, the Seeley Lake Water District, and the Missoula City County Planning. He and his wife Annette have seven children

Vincent Chappell, Seeley Lake resident and fellow Water District board member, has known Hill for five years. He describes Hill as very active member of the community and devoted family man. “He’s a very good, intelligent man,” Chappell said. “I don’t know anyone who can say anything bad.”

Chappell said that Hill’s candidacy will help the community positively, drawing attention to the major issues. “He’s been trying to help small communities for a while now,” Chappell said.

Hill supports a resort tax for Seeley Lake, a measure that is also on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“The idea is to have tourists who visit Seeley Lake in the summer help pay for the town’s infrastructure needs,” Hill told the Missoulian.

Hill is challenging Democrat incumbent Tim Furey of Bonner. Furey, who also supports funding for the University of Montana building program has focused his campaign on economy growth.

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