Official photo of the US House

BOZEMAN – Democrats got together in Bozeman Saturday evening to meet voters and debate some hot topics with moderator and former Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat.

Four of the five candidates running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives took the stage at the Rialto for the debate.

John Heenan, Kathleen Williams, Grant Kier and Jared Pettinato debated the hot-topic issues of healthcare and gun laws, but they also saw this as an opportunity to get to know the voters.

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“This is a major population center and a lot of votes to be had here in Gallatin County. So, as everywhere it is important to show up and let people kick the tires,” said candidate John Heenan.

“In Montana, we take pride in getting to know people we want to elect and the people we have elected and this is exactly how we can do that,” added candidate Grant Kier.

For candidate Kathleen Williams, the debate provided an opportunity so that “citizens and voters can hear how we differ or are similar on the issues.”

There were three styles of questions given to the candidates, including rapid-fire, yes-or-no questions which MTN’s political analyst Dr. David Parker said were very telling of each candidate.

“A lot of debates, sometimes its only 30 seconds or a minute. The negative is there wasn’t any back-and-forth between the candidates, which is something I think is exciting and interesting and I really wanted to see. But we did get a good sense of the candidates, I think, overall.” Parker said.

The five candidates will face off in the June primary. The successful candidate will then take on incumbent Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte.

Another candidate, Lynda Moss, did not attend Saturday’s debate. She was in Billings for a gun control community forum.

Reporting by Morgan Davies for MTN News