Op Ed 849

Montana’s House District 11 Needs Someone With a Strong Spine

If Ronalee Skees was unable to stand up for individual liberty and defend her own record as a member of the Flathead County Health Board, how can District 11 voters trust she will stand up for what is right if she is elected?

Representative Derek Skees (HD-11) has been on multiple forums “defending” his wife, Ronalee Skees, who is running for the house legislative seat that he now is termed out from.  For those of you who are new to the party, the public was recently reminded of Ronalee’s consequential vote on the Flathead County health board from March 19, 2020, at the beginning of the COVID emergency. 

During that meeting, Ronalee Skees carried the motion for the health officer’s order that mandated the closing of all restaurant and bar dining rooms and allowed for only carryout and curbside services.  When this inconvenient truth was pointed out publicly, Derek went into full-attack mode, using leftist tactics, name-calling and collectively throwing historical allies under the bus for daring to speak the truth.

My prevailing thought throughout all of this remains, why is Ronalee Skees seemingly incapable of defending herself?  Other than her initial gaslighting of the facts during the health board meeting on January 18, 2022, and a few comments on other people’s posts on Facebook, I have not seen one instance where she has written or spoken publicly in defense of herself and her actions.  Instead, she has allowed Derek to basically be her “junk yard dog” and defend her record for her.  He has done so with gusto on multiple occasions and gives no indication of ceasing anytime soon.

I look at our warrior women in the legislature, like Senator Theresa Manzella.  Senator Manzella is our lone Republican female senator and has been attacked viciously by her opposition.  One noteworthy example was when Manzella spoke in defense of a Missoula Christian man named Brandon Huber, who faced persecution for expressing his religious liberty.

I have no doubt that Manzella’s husband, Ken Lengyel, supports her 100%.  Yet, I have never seen him defend her publicly; probably because he knows the Senator is perfectly capable of defending herself and Manzella knows that her husband has her back. 

To her credit, Senator Manzella not only handles her opposition herself, but does so with a great sense of humor and a lot of grace.  She respects the first amendment rights of her detractors, states the facts, and moves on, as any true statesman would. 

THAT is how you handle criticism, folks.

If Ronalee Skees is elected, will Derek be at the statehouse sitting next to her, holding her hand in case someone says something to her that she perceives as mean?  Will she wear an earpiece so that Derek can listen in and tell her what to say? Is this the kind of demeanor a legislator should have and that we want?  I reside in the district in question and I can say, “Definitely not!”  We need someone who can stand for liberty with a strong spine and who can handle pressure and criticism, because, like it or not, criticism will come.

The infamous March 19, 2020 vote is without a doubt a point of contention for voters and I would suggest Derek go back and read the minutes of the health board meeting.  The health officer’s report stated, “Currently there are no confirmed cases in Flathead County and 12 cases in Montana.” It is completely disingenuous for Derek to state in a recent opinion piece in the Montana Daily Gazette, “the CDC and staff warned the Board they should secure Freezer trucks and body bags, because the death toll would be 5% of the County. (How would you have voted without knowing what you know now?)” The data in Montana, as written in black and white in the meeting minutes,  did not support this hype in any way, so to say “they didn’t know” is not truthful.

Derek Skees defends the leadership record of his wife, Ronalee Skees

It is also worth noting that 5 days prior to the infamous health board meeting, Charlie Kirk held a public rally of about 800 people, from a variety of towns and states, in Kalispell.  Instead of being a “super spreader” event, as some predicted, the event resulted in ZERO illnesses, a fact known to the entire health board at that time.  This only further emphasizes that there was no substantive reason for any of the board members with one scintilla of critically thinking brain cells to vote for anything out of fear.  And most certainly no reason to carry a motion without merit to lockdown our livelihoods in Flathead County.