EDITOR’S NOTE: Democrat Darryl Wilson is a candidate for Yellowstone County commissioner against Republican John Ostlund. Democrat Jim Ronquillo also is a candidate for the seat. Here is Mr. Wilson’s edited statement.
I was born and raised in our community with my wife, our three grown children and two grandchildren where we have made Billings our home. I worked for the Montana Department of Transportation for 10 years in engineering and right of way, and did private consulting work for the city of Billings in the ’80s for the airport expansion and Heights sewer project.
I spent 15 years managing and developing thousands of acres of railroad property for the Burlington Northern Railroad, Glacier Park Co. and Trillium Corp. I have had my own real estate company for about the past 10 years and understand business development and community involvement.
I have always tried to be involved in our community by volunteering on the Board of Directors for Big Sky Federal Credit Union, Boy Scouts of America and the Yellowstone River Parks Association.
When our community was offered the old Federal Courthouse building, we should have accepted it immediately no matter the potential environmental issues. Our County Attorney’s Office could have utilized the space immediately, and we could have relocated the Sheriff’s Office there, tearing down that building for additional parking. I feel our commissioners do not appreciate the dedication and commitment our county employees offer to our community and should have negotiated in good faith with them when their contracts came due.
We need to immediately pass a 20-year bond issue of probably $100 million to complete an underpass or overpass at 27th Street and also on Monad Road. We would require the railroad to donate the land and pay an impact fee. We would pass a countywide gasoline tax of, say, 2 cents per gallon, and since this is on the state system, we would insist that the Montana Department of Transportation participate in the cost.
We need to develop a rail-served heavy industry park of at least 600 acres. This can be a joint venture between the railroads, private landowners and the city-county. It is possible – I have done it in Fargo, N.D., with the Cheyenne Industrial Center.
We need to look at combining some city-county agencies. For instance, the Parks Department. The city has a great understanding of the importance of trails, bike lanes, etc., and staff to oversee it.
A healthy community is a vibrant community.