Op Ed 1,661

Flathead Health Board Accountability: Get Your Popcorn!

Election season is already off to a very interesting start, and we are not even to the primaries yet. Two candidates, in particular, have recently garnered a great deal of negative attention for the tactics they have deployed to politically gaslight those who are telling the truth about their voting records. The two candidates I am referring to are Flathead County Commissioner Pam Holmquist, who is running for yet another 6-year term, and Flathead County Health Board member Ronalee Skees, who is running for the District 11 House seat currently occupied by her termed-out husband, Derek Skees.

While their voting records on the health board over the past two years are nothing to crow about, the crux of the matter revolves around their votes on March 19, 2020, a crucial vote that would determine the way Flathead County would respond to this alleged “pandemic.”

A moment of accountability came during the health board meeting in January. During the meeting, Holmquist made several false statements about how the board allegedly supported the rights of Flathead citizens during the pandemic over the past two years.

Dr. Annie Bukacek, another member of the health board, politely refuted Holmquist’s claim by explaining, while holding up a copy of the minutes from the March 2020 meeting, that she was the only abstaining vote regarding the draconian restrictions imposed by the Flathead County Health Board. The Flathead Beacon reported on Dr. Bukacek’s lone nay vote after the meeting:

Bukacek was the lone opponent of the measure. In comments to the board and via a packet she distributed to its members, Bukacek questioned whether COVID-19 was as deadly as medical officials have stated, and asked whether forcing businesses to close was going too far.

Flathead Board of Health Orders Eateries, Gyms to Close Friday. Flathead Beacon. March 19, 2020.

Holmquist, however, voted in favor of shuttering restaurant dining rooms and only allowing for carry-out and delivery services, effectively cutting off 80% or more of the income for these businesses. Her vote is public record, so it is plain for anyone to see, in black and white.

Minutes from March 19, 2020 Flathead Health Board meeting reflect Ronalee Skees motion to support Health Officer Order to close and limit businesses. Dr. Annie Bukacek voted against Skees’ motion.

At that meeting, the theatrics from culpable health board members began and the drama has only intensified since. In what one could describe as the political equivalent of “the devil made me do it,” Holmquist attempted to deflect responsibility for her vote onto then-Governor Steve Bullock. Ronalee Skees then went into full-gaslight mode by suggesting that any attempts to hold members of the health board to account for their consequential voting record were inflammatory and divisive.

Ronalee Skees asserted in a follow-up email, “As a member of our community appointed to serve, I do not swear oath of office when appointed, that is usual for elected office holders.”

In other words, if she did not pledge an oath, the principles of the Constitution do not matter. However, Skees signed an oath before both of her terms on the health board. These oaths are a matter of public record, so her assertion to the contrary is not truthful.

Holmquist and Skees then attended a Republican women’s function and cried the blues, claiming that they voted the way they did out of fear, admitting they believed the ridiculous assertions that we were going to need refrigerated morgue trucks, etc. Their vote came despite the fact, which was asserted several times, that there were ZERO cases of COVID-19 in Flathead County at the time and 12 alleged “cases” in all of Montana including zero deaths statewide.  Because we need public officials who vote based on fear instead of facts and principles, right?

Derek Skees then decided to jump into the fray, starting with last month’s health board meeting on February 17. During his screed, Skees labeled those who were pointing out the inconvenient truth regarding his wife’s voting record as woke, fringe, right-wing extremists.

Derek Skees (HD-11). Flathead County Health Board Meeting. February 17th.

These votes are all public record and Skees has further entrenched himself since by doubling down on these statements and continuing to gaslight and use leftist tactics that he would normally decry.  Apparently when it comes to politics, principles do not matter. 

The meeting video is public record and available on YouTube.  I encourage everyone to watch it, but have your popcorn ready.

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