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America is becoming increasingly polarized by partisan politics, but it doesn’t have to be that way in Lewis and Clark County.

Currently, anyone running for the position of county commissioner, county attorney, sheriff/coroner, county superintendent of schools, district court clerk, and treasurer/clerk and recorder must declare their party affiliation when registering as a candidate. However, Lewis and Clark County voters now have an opportunity to demonstrate that they don’t need political parties to tell them what to think.

The ballots being mailed Wednesday will ask voters whether to make these county elections nonpartisan, which is something that should have been done long ago.

Our political parties are becoming less about serving the greater good and more about scoring political points at all costs, and it’s time to return the power to the people.

As a reminder, Helena voters will also be electing two city commissioners and a municipal judge this fall. East Helena voters will be electing two city commissioners.

Ballots must be returned by Election Day Nov. 5.

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Gov. Steve Bullock recently announced Montana will implement a 120-day ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, which is a wise move. 

Throughout the nation, vaping has recently been linked to more than 1,000 cases of severe lung disease and 21 deaths. However, authorities have not yet determined which products or chemicals are causing the problem.

Until that happens, it’s important for government officials to do what they can to keep vaping products away from children.

While this will undoubtedly hurt many businesses that rely on vape sales, our state cannot continue to gamble with our children’s health by keeping these products on the shelves.

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The Montana State Auditor’s Office has demonstrated that it takes fraud seriously, which is good news for Montana consumers and bad news for those trying to scam them.

Through a case filed by the previous auditor’s office and continued under the current administration, the state came to a $284,500 settlement with call centers, insurance companies and individuals who used fraudulent sales tactics to sell insurance policies to Montanans from 2012 to 2016.

The auditor’s office sent letters to 3,645 potentially affected Montanans, who must respond by Nov. 9 to be eligible for restitution payments.

Entities that paid into the restitution fund are HCC Life Insurance Company and HCC Medical Insurance Services, United Life Insurance, Starr Indemnity and Liability Company, Coverage One Insurance Group, Western Heritage Insurance Marketing Group and Lisa D. Gonzales, Michael C. Tobias, Quick Quote US and Michael S. Hilf, National Foundation Life Insurance Co., Health Benefits One and Matthew E. Spiewalk, Danielle Bretti, Michael K. Borchers, and Terry M. Alvarado.

Thank you to the auditor’s office for sticking up for Montanans and exposing the dishonest practices of these entities.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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