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Information and news from Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio and Montana Free Press to help you make an informed decision. Absentee ballots sent out: May 13Primary Election Day: June 7General Election Day: Nov. 8Help shape our elections coverage: Fill out this form with the questions you think we should be asking the candidates running for Congress.

2022 candidate interview: Mary Todd for U.S. House District 1

 Mary Todd
Screen capture from: https://www.facebook.com/MaryToddForMT/videos/693865381733426
Mary Todd

Ahead of the June 7 election, we're hearing from primary candidates running for Montana's 1st Congressional District, which represents western Montana.
Mary Todd is a pastor and small business owner from Kalispell. In the Republican primary, she faces four opponents. Todd sat down with MTPR's Shaylee Ragar.

Shaylee Ragar: Mary, I so appreciate you taking the time today.

Mary Todd: Thank you so much, Shaylee. I'm glad to be with you.

My first question for you is, what's your elevator pitch for Montanans who might not know you?

End government corruption.

Tell me a little bit more about who you are, where you're from.

So my name is Mary Todd. I am from Kalispell. My husband and I have been married for 44 years. We are the parents of four boys and three grandchildren. I've been a pastor at Azusa Pacific University and then pastored a small church here and have a master's degree in organizational leadership and a bachelor in Christian leadership and an A.S. in early childhood education. So I've been around kids and taught school, and those are the things I've done in the past.

I want to go back to your speaking about government corruption. I wonder if you can point to some specific examples and how you hope to address them as a member of Congress.

So in 2012, my son, my oldest son, first-born, was a Ph.D. in electrical engineering working out of Singapore, and he was asked to compromise U.S. security with the Chinese Communist Party, a telecommunications company called Huawei. And he refused to go along with the illegal transfer of technology to China. He quit his job. He had a new job in the United States. And on his last day of work, he was garroted and hung on a door. And we were told he committed suicide. But we found an external hard drive in his apartment that told the whole story that was accessed after his death. And so once the Financial Times did a huge article on our son and told about the technology he was working on about his murder, we thought our government would take over, that they would now, you know, research our son's death.

But we were sitting in Congressman Wolf's office. He's from Virginia, but we were in Washington, D.C. and he said to us, "I know your son was murdered. You're doing the right thing to seek a congressional investigation into the death of your son. But you're not going to get anywhere because Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication giant, owns a law firm on every corner in Washington, D.C., and they have bought out several of our elected officials on both sides."

That was in 2013. It has only gotten worse. And so we have really met with everyone to the highest level. And so that's where our background is.

I started speaking on national security a couple of years ago, and every time I would speak on it to tell people what's happening in our nation and how these things are connected that we're going through, people kept asking me to run for office, and finally, when this new seat opened, I decided this was the time.

And you asked what I would like to do about it. I would like to bring to the forefront and examine why congresspeople go into office and come out a lot richer than they go in. And so there's a lot of money to be had. And we need to understand as Americans where this money's coming from and why.

Yeah, and I definitely want to get into some more issues specific to Congress. But right now, you're in a primary race and you have four Republican opponents. What makes you the most qualified candidate?

I think the difference between me is that I see it from a global issue and not just a local issue. However, I am very, very much interested in what's happening with our children in school. I'm very much interested in Montana's beauty and to keep, you know, everything about Montana the same. I want to help with our economy, the things that matter to Montana, specifically our children.

One of the benefits of an added congressional seat is more power for Montana's delegation, as a whole, working together. Do you think you can find common ground with other delegates, Republicans and say Democratic Sen. Jon Tester?

I'm personal friends with Matt Rosendale. When I started to run, I called him. We talked for quite a long time. I really appreciate the way he is running as our congressman. He's doing an excellent job. I've met with Jon Tester several times, and I believe that we can find common ground.

You know, Abraham Lincoln always said that if a country was to divide, it would be from within. So I feel if we can't find common ground as Americans, we're in trouble. So my- I will make it my goal to find common ground and to work together. When I was a little girl, there wasn't this great divide, and my parents were Republicans, but we love John Kennedy. And I would like to get it back to where we're working together for the love of the greatest nation that ever was.

I wanted to ask you about Rep. Matt Rosendale. He's been Montana's lone representative in Congress for the last two years, and he is running for reelection in the eastern district. What do you think of the job he's done, and would you have done anything differently?

I really appreciate the job that he has done. I think he has really worked for smaller government. He's said no to a lot of spending, no to a lot of bills that we don't need unnecessarily. I will do the same thing. I would probably be very similar to what Matt Rosendale has done. I text him on a regular basis, thanking him for some of the decisions that he's making for the good of our great state. So I think we'd work great together, and I really have no complaints about Matt Rosendale.

Rep. Rosendale has had some controversial votes. He has been in the minority of Republicans when he voted against awarding a Congressional medal to U.S. Capitol Police, who responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. I wonder if you would have voted the same way.

Yes, I would have.

Why would you have voted that way?

January 6, when you start looking at the evidence now that is coming out, there is evidence that people were let in. There's evidence that this was a setup from the beginning. I'm not saying that people didn't break the law by going in, but I believe it was a setup. I believe that the congressional investigation, if you look at the people on that committee, it was not an equal investigation. It was a skewed investigation. There are people who are still in jail that have not been- that really don't even know what they're in for yet. So I would absolutely vote with Matt Rosendale on that.

I wonder if you would support an investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, if there were equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the committee?

Well, not just Republican and Democrats, but people that want a fair outcome. Absolutely.

I just want to be clear. Do you do you condemn the violence that we saw on Jan. 6 at the Capitol?

I condemn any sort of violence. Absolutely. And I was, I was actually there on Jan. 6; not at the Capitol, but in Washington, D.C. And what I saw ahead of time was peaceful people. The place was clean. There were thousands of people that were peaceful, having a wonderful time. I was so cold I went back to the hotel, never did go to the Capitol. But I absolutely am opposed to any sort of violence. I- that's unconstitutional. But it is constitutional to peacefully protest.

Can you talk to me more about that?

Franklin Graham had us gather for prayer about a month beforehand. We went back. We felt that our nation was in trouble. So we went and we prayed with people. I was there to pray for our nation.

I've heard you speak about the 2020 election before and claims of fraud, and those claims have been refuted at several different courts and by election experts. And Montana's own Republican secretary of state at the time acknowledged that President Joe Biden had won the election. Do you worry that continuing to call into question the 2020 election erodes trust in the voting process?

I think if we don't call it into question that- we don't have a country if we don't have fair elections. I've seen a lot of evidence to the contrary. And so I think that until we can know for sure that this election was fair, which I do not think it was, I think it was rigged, I don't think it's a closed case. I think the courts looked at just the sheer votes, not the background of the algorithms, not the people putting the votes in. There's a lot of things, and I think you will see that that will come out.

I'm thinking about the allegations that have been brought as court cases, as lawsuits, and judges have not found evidence to substantiate those claims to move forward with these allegations. Is that- that evidence isn't enough for you? I mean, how do we move forward then when we're kind of in this deadlock?

Dr. Al Olszewski is with me on this one. I'm not alone in believing that there's been voter fraud and that we need to continue to look into it. There is evidence constantly, and that is what we need to do, is to continue to audit and look into it until we are convinced.

I wonder what your thoughts are on the Missoula County Republican Central Committee. They paid for that recount in Missoula County and they did conclude that the election was secure. Does that- does that process, or?

No. They just counted votes. They didn't trace where the ballots came from, how there's more voters- ballots than there are voters. It does not change my opinion at all.

Okay. I mean, we have elections officials that are saying, you know, we have sorted this.

Well, you can- I don't- I'm just telling you, it will not change because I've seen the evidence of it. And I think that it needs to be looked into. I mean, you can say it in as many different ways as you want.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing Congress?

Well, I think the most pressing thing is for Congress to start doing their jobs and making laws and not allowing our un-elected bureaucrats and corporations and judges make the laws, that we need to start acting as Congress and protecting our citizens and doing — you know, our government was created for one purpose and one purpose only, and that was for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And so I think less government, less interference and no more tyranny.

What kind of specific examples do you have of this government interference? And and how would you repeal that?

Well, for one, we are being censored. Joe Biden has now gotten a minister of truth going to censor people. We're being censored on- I was taken off of Facebook because of something that I said that was nothing that I believe should have been taken off. I can't even remember what it was now, but it was- we're being censored on several levels. But the worst to me has been the last two years of mask mandates and pushing the vaccine and firing people who would not get it. And when you force somebody to have a substance put in their body and tell them that they're going to lose their jobs if they don't do that, I think that is tyrannical.

How do you propose reining in big government? What could Congress do?

Well, I think Matt Rosendale has done a good job of voting no on a lot of things instead of just spending money we don't have. And so we need to rein in our spending. We are so over budget, you know, and it's getting worse- on both sides; this is a nonpartisan issue, by the way. The Republicans and the Democrats have just completely overspent. I think they've overreached. I think that they need to give the sovereignty back to the states on most decisions, and including preserving our land here in Montana, that that needs to be a state issue. School choice needs to be a state issue. The things that they have kind of taken over need to be given up.

Another pressing issue that I think is on a lot of people's minds right now is the war in Ukraine. President Joe Biden has said no troops will enter Ukraine. Montana Sen. Steve Daines was recently in Ukraine, and he says the U.S. needs to deliver lethal weapons faster. To what extent do you think the U.S. should support the country against Russia's invasion?

Well, I think that no boots on the ground, after the Afghanistan debacle I am hesitant to put bodies, our men and women in harm's way right now. But I do believe we should be backing Ukraine with helping them with weapons and supplies and doing what we can that way. But I do not want to enter a war with Russia and Ukraine. I think we've learned from history that that is- we rush into these things and it doesn't turn out very well.

We're also seeing the cost of gas and groceries spike right now. How do you think Congress should address inflation, or should Congress address it?

I think that the less government spending would be the first step in decreasing inflation. But, you know, this current administration took away our energy independence. So we're now buying our energy from foreign countries. And that is causing us to go up- inflation, to go up at a very high rate, especially at the gas station. So we need to become more independent. We need energy independence back. We need to, you know, rebuild our pipelines and quit buying from foreign countries.

Where would be the first place that you would look to to reduce federal government spending?

Well, I think that they should dismantle several of our government entities like the- not just dismantle, but rebuild the FBI, the CIA, the DOJ, the Department of Education. I think that there's so much pork, there's so many things that we don't need to spend it on. And that needs to be all looked at and evaluated of how to rebuild, dismantle and rebuild.

Where could we specifically cut some of that excess? What are some examples of that?

Well, for one, we need to remember that the government has no money, it produces nothing, and it exists purely for- it's a parasitic organization maintained by our taxes. And so I think that inflation is just another way to tax people. And government money is- really, we need to have government change it where they say, "This is the people's money, not our money."

And so when I talk about the government agencies like the CIA, the FBI, we need to take down the amount of people that there shouldn't be that many people working for it. But not only that, when you talk about ending government- I talk about ending government corruption, I believe that some of our highest officials have been bought, and that is what I would like to expose, and that is what needs to be rebuilt, that we have to evaluate every part of the government and say what is working, what is not working, what do we need to keep and what can we cut out?

Another issue I want to talk about is climate change. So we've seen science that's been unwavering that the climate is warming and that there are potentially very dangerous impacts awaiting. Should Congress address this issue and if so, how?

I don't think Congress should address the issue.

I hear from a lot of people that this is something that they're concerned about. Is it something that you think people should be concerned about? Is it something you're concerned about?

In light of everything else that's going on in our country right now, that is not my top concern.

If elected, what do you hope to tell voters about your record in Congress a year after your swearing in? What do you hope your major accomplishments will be?

I hope my major accomplishments will be to bridge the gap between the Republicans and the Democrats, that I will be a person that will bring the parties together, that we can make decisions together. That I will be a person that will speak against the division that's happening within our country that I think is being perpetrated from without and from within, which is all this race baiting, all this critical race theory, the Black Lives Matters that are just causing us to hate each other.

And I think that the way that our children are being taught in school right now, I want to get back to reading, writing and arithmetic, that kindergartners should not be learning about sex and kids should not be being told that they can choose what gender they are regardless of what they're born with.

So those are the things that I would like to fight for. And so unity, bringing a sense of cohesiveness to our country and doing the very best that I can for our families and for Montana.

I want to ask another follow-up, because I think I shared when we're talking about Black Lives Matter or critical race theory, I think some people would say that it's important to talk about race. It's important to talk about our history of racism in the United States. It's important to fight against discrimination and racism. Do you agree with that? What's your view there?

I think that we have become more divided in the last several years than we've ever than I've ever seen in my life. And I think it's the worst thing as Americans, that we need to care more about the content of our character than the color of our skin. And of course, there has been mistakes made, but we need to go forward united and learn to love each other and to appreciate each other and to build relationships with one another. I think that talking about calling people racist, talking about this only divides people more, and it's being used as a tool to destroy our country.

Mary, thanks so much for taking the time today.

Thank you.
Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.