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Lisa Pavlock, Democrat for House District 93

by CAROLYN HIDY
Lake County Leader | October 8, 2020 12:05 AM

Lisa Pavlock has spent her entire career in education, both teaching and coaching. She and her husband, Ben Kestner, run Glacier Lake School in St. Ignatius, a private school they founded in 2014.

Pavlock said health care and health insurance is the top issue mentioned to her by voters.

“This is the thing that everyone agrees on. Everyone wants good health care, and agrees that everyone should have it, and that it should be affordable,” she said.

She is a strong supporter of the Medicaid expansion Montana adopted. However, she said many who are not on that program still cannot afford health care or insurance coverage. She cites as examples a farmworker and a house renovator who told her they have almost never had coverage.

“It is still prohibitively expensive for premiums,” she said. And even then, high deductibles mean coverage often does not kick in until after $5,000 to $10,000 deductibles are paid.

The future of Medicaid and other federal funds allocated to Montana by the Affordable Care Act are currently in question as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up another challenge to ACA this fall.

“We have to plan for this,” Pavlock said. She said she intends to work toward solutions in the Legislature.

Pavlock is a longtime educator in public and international schools. While she now runs an alternative private school, she is highly supportive of public schools, and does not believe that private schools should get public funding.

The model of the school she and her husband run is based on students taking responsibility for their own education and democratically participating in the school’s management. With such a different model, the school has different requirements than the state.

“We work very hard to fund this school, precisely because we want it to be an alternative to meeting state requirements,” Pavlock said. “I would love it if alternatives such as ours could be considered to meet standards,” she said, “but I don’t think that’s where public money should be going.”

It does make sense, however, for money such as for special needs or meals for low-income students to follow the student to whichever school they attend, she said.

As a small business, on the other hand, the school is among thousands in the state that have applied for and received federal CARES Act money to help meet business expenses and make safety adjustments needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone I have spoken with who applied has gotten the funds they needed,” including two of her sisters, one a farmer and one a gym owner, she said. “The funds have been carefully managed so that they could be available as needs became evident. When an additional $300 in federal unemployment aid was made available, the state was able to meet the required $100 matching funds.”

“When the money was first available,” Pavlock said, “We had no idea what we would need to do for the school come fall, but it was still there for us when we applied to help add outdoor tents and other safety needs.” The state has “taken the time to learn what went well and rectify problems. For instance, they needed other ways to distribute funds besides just banks.”

Another example: smaller businesses without accounting departments needed a simplified application process.

“I think the state has taken good actions all along.”

Pavlock said adequately funding mental health care should be a priority for the legislature.

“So much was cut from mental health a few years ago,” she said. “This is one of the biggest issues for Lake County. It is crucial to help support people so that they can become able-bodied citizens.”

Pavlock said that with decreased revenue from extraction industries, and potentially reduced income taxes due to the pandemic, other sources will be important. A state sales tax is not a solution she currently supports.

“All the research I have seen shows a sales tax affects lower-income people more significantly,” she said

Pavlock is supportive of the growing alternative energy industry and the potential for Montana manufacturing and other jobs.

“Solar and wind are really taking off,” she said, and Montana should talk about how to encourage it. She said one of the great things in Montana is the state constitution, including the duty of the state to provide a “clean and healthful environment,” which these energy sources may contribute to. However, their potential as a future revenue source is not yet known. “Let’s talk about it and have a plan for it as part of the future,” she said.

Pavlock is willing to consider proposals that are coming forth for changes to the biannual, 90-day legislative session. “As an outsider,” she said, “it seems like three months is not a long time to deal with complex issues.” While the current schedule allows for citizens to serve and then get back to their businesses, she notes that it is not conducive to allowing those with hourly jobs or others to serve, as they cannot count on their positions being available when they return.

“Mostly those who run are retirees or business owners,” she said, and she is open to hearing alternatives that might make it easier for others to serve as well.

Another issue many voters have expressed in common: “People are sick of the divisive atmosphere. Civility, problem-solving together, being able to talk to your neighbor, this unites people. I will work hard to bring different people together at the table.”

Lisa Pavlock

Age: 50

Family: Husband Ben Kestner; daughter Marina (14). Mother Jan, retired nurse; father, Tom, Navy veteran; three sisters.

Occupation: Teacher, administrator, coach

Background: B.A. Smith College, Northampton, Mass.; M.Ed. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; educator and co-founder of Glacier Lake School in St. Ignatius; taught public, private, inner-city and rural schools; played soccer, basketball, lacrosse, gymnastics. League of Women Voters (nonpartisan), board member and treasurer; 25 years coaching youth leagues, middle school, high school and college; certified referee for Montana Youth Soccer.

Website: lisapavlockhd93.com

Contact: lisafor93@gmail.com; (406) 493-5192