HELENA – Five democratic candidates for Montana’s U.S. House seat appeared before a packed room at the Lewis and Clark Library Thursday.

Lynda Moss, Kathleen Williams, Grant Kier, John Heenan and Jared Pettinato are all vying to challenge incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte as Montana’s sole representative.

The Lewis and Clark County Democrats hosted the forum on the same day that candidates could officially file for public office in Montana. By Thursday, 3 out of the 5 candidates had officialy filed with the Secretary of States office.

Moderators at the forum asked the candidates about various issues ranging from Native American inequality to LGBT rights. Candidates were also asked two questions chosen by the audience. Towards the end of the forum, the candidates were given two minutes to explain why they are the best choice to challenge Gianforte and represent the people of Montana.

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Moss highlighted hear integrity, compassion and honesty while Williams painted herself as the most qualified candidate with policy expertise. Kier said he is the best person to look out for future generations, and Heenan said his attorney background would help him defend Montanans against special interest and “powerful corporations.” Finally, Pettinato said he can bring jobs to the state and wants to invest in clean energy.

After the forum, audience members said seeing and hearing the candidates was helpful in making a decision.

“I have some definite opinions about several of them. I think I’ve chosen two,” Rita Charles, who attended the forum, said.

Charles wasn’t very familiar with the candidates before and used the forum as a chance to get to know the five candidates better.

“This is very informative,” Charles said. “We should have more of them.”

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