HELENA — Matt Olson is a Republican running for Montana’s Senate District 42, which encompasses eastern Helena and East Helena. He is running against Democrat Mary Ann Dunwell.
Olson and his wife Chiko owned and operated the Dairy Queen on Prospect Avenue for nearly 28 years. They sold the franchise in late 2020. The Olsons also coached sports in the area.
In an interview with MTN, Olson said his priority issues are addressing how inflation is impacting Montanans, financial literacy for youth and developing natural resources in responsible ways.
Check out the full interview with Olson, including verbatim, below.
What is your name, party and seat you are running for?
I’m Matt Olson, candidate for Senate District 42, Republican Party.
What is your occupation and history in the area?
We ran the Dairy Queen on Prospect and owned and operated it for 28 years. At the end of 2020, we did sell the Dairy Queen. After seven days a week for so many years, we had an opportunity and my wife, and I were pretty tired. So now we're looking at the next chapter.
Why did you choose to run for the legislature?
You know, there's so many young people that we hired, and that worked for us for so many years. My kids, I want these people to have the opportunities that we had, and we had amazing opportunities in this state and in this country.
What are three key issues you believe need to be addressed by the next session of the Montana legislature?
You know, as a freshman legislator, I think I have a ton to learn. So first, I probably would go in just knowing that I need to learn a bunch. I think there's lots of bills that are being worked on, you know, I things that I hear about on doors, the biggest, the biggest single issues that I hear out at doors are inflation, it's really hurting a lot of people and it's pinching a lot of budgets, we see that with, you know, with some groups of seniors. You'll see that I think that something that you know, property tax, especially for the seniors is something important. I would love to see us working on financial literacy for our students, I think that it's something that my kids still come and ask me tons of questions. I mean, I think that's good. But it's, I think that we don't teach financial literacy very well in our country, in our state. So I think we could do so much better. I see so many kids buying brand new cars when they're in high school, and how that doesn't really make sense. It doesn't help them in the long run, it kinda is something that doesn't help their future. So that would be an issue. Then, I think the development of our natural resources, you know, that I think we can do it environmentally friendly, and that we can have clean water and in develop these resources, and it's a that's the biggest hedge we have against inflation.
State leaders have indicated that there's likely over a billion dollar surplus possible for the state budget, where do you think that money should go?
You know, I really don't like to spend money on money that we don't have budgets for. So I'd rather have spending money be budget issues that are for the future. So the legislature is figuring out how to pay for things over time not. So I don't really like the idea of just throwing money into new programs, and then have to figure out how to deal with that later. But I do think that in a time when inflation is running kinda rampant. That money being returned to taxpayers that paid the money is something that will benefit all Montanans. So I, I probably do favor, returning it to the people that paid it in at, you know, a good chunk of it anyway.
Over the last couple of election cycles, the state of elections has become a point of political discourse. What are your thoughts on the state of elections here in Montana?
In Montana? I mean, you hear some things. I mean, I don't think that it's probably changed the outcome of elections. But I do think that it is the government's job to make every person in Montana know that the elections are fair and free in it for every person to know that it's not. It's not for some it's not for one side or the other, it's all people need to know. The elections are fair and free. And that's the government's first job.
Is there anything else you want to say? Or think voters should know that we haven't covered so far?
You know, we sure would like you to vote for Matt Olson and we really need the help, I will promise that I'll work my hardest and we will, I will do everything I can to look at every side of an issue and just to put my heart into it, and to you know, the experience that I've learned in the last 28 years in business and how to solve problems. I will put that into practice.