HELENA — Melissa Romano is running as a Democrat for Montana’s House District 81 in the 2022 General Election. She is running against Republican Jill Sark.
Romano has worked for two decades as an educator and is currently an instructional coach in the Helena School District. She previously ran against Elsie Arntzen for Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Key issues Romano would like addressed by the next Montana Legislature are affordable health care and mental health care, strengthening the economy, and investing in public education.
Absentee ballots for the Tuesday, November 8, 2022, General Election go out to voters on Friday, October 14. Check out MTN’s full interview, including verbatim, with Romano below.
What is your name, party and seat you are running for?
My name is Melissa Romano. I'm running to represent House District 81 as a Democrat.
What is your occupation and history in the area?
So I’ve called Helena, my hometown for it's been for 46 years now. I grew up here, very happy to have raised my I'm raising my family here. And I am currently an instructional coach with the Helena School District, I have almost 20 years of teaching experience in the Helena’s School District. And in my current role, I'm not actually working with a classroom of students, but rather with a school of educators. And so I work as a thought partner with them, analyzing data, looking at trends and making plans to increase student learning.
Why did you choose to run?
Yeah, like I said, Helen is my hometown. And I grew up here. And not only did my parents raise me, but I consider that this community raised me. And I'm grateful for all the opportunities that I was presented with when I was a child and into my young adulthood, and now into my older adulthood. And I'm interested in just giving back to the Helena community and to Montana, I want to make a positive difference for the lives of all Montanans and I am excited to do that in the legislature.
What are three key issues that you believe need to be addressed by the Montana Legislature in the upcoming session?
Yeah, thank you for that question. So a couple of issues that I really see, and especially as I'm out knocking doors is that I want to create a happy and healthy Montana. And for me, and the people that I talk with, when I'm out on the doors, that means having access to affordable health care, and not just typical health care that we think of, but including mental health care. And so I'm interested in working with legislatures to decrease the cost of health care, I don't think that any of our Montana family should have to make the decision about whether their monthly paycheck goes to pay for food for the month, or whether it pays for medication. And so I'm interested in working to find solutions to tackle that increasingly complex problem. I'd also like to create a Montana where my children and generations of future children can choose to stay here and thrive. And that means strengthening our economy. It means creating good-paying jobs with safe working conditions. And again, I'm excited to bring my leadership skills and my passion to the legislature to do just that find solutions. And third, I really believe that when we invest in all levels of public education, that's an investment in Montana's future. And so I'm interested in doing just that, from our youngest learners to from preschool all the way to high school and beyond. I want to truly invest in Montana's education, because that is an investment in our future and in our economy.
State leaders have indicated that there will be over a $1 billion surplus possible for the state budget, where do you think that money should go?
You know, that's a great question. And so I want to, you know, what a unique characteristic about me that I am the only candidate in this race that has a 20-year experience as an educator, I am Montana's 2018 Teacher of the Year, and I have spent my lifetime building a love of learning and a foundation of skills in my students. And not only that, but I've spent a lifetime creating relationships, and particularly with a last legislative session and how divisive it was, how sr 81 needs leaders that can bring people together to make those very important decisions about budget and where money goes. And that's exactly what I'll bring with me when I head to the legislature is this unique ability to solve problems, but really bring people together? Because that's what I've done. My entire career is build relationships
In recent election cycles, the state of elections has become a part of political discourse. What are your thoughts on the state of elections here in Montana?
You know, my thoughts are that I really value and trust our election process here in Montana. And that's one of the things that when I head to the legislature, I want to protect Montanans' access to voting rights. I want to protect our Constitution and the freedoms that we currently have with our Constitution. And I look forward to doing that.
Anything else you'd like to say or discuss or you think voters should know that we haven't covered so far?
Yeah, I like to remind voters I would like to discern your trust and your votes. You can head to melissaformontana.com for more information. It is always me on the other end, who writes back and I welcome conversation and that's it.