By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A fifth candidate has entered the race for a seat on the Hill County Commission.
Wyatt Dahlin, an independent, filed Monday at the Hill County Clerk and Recorder's Office. Three Democrats - Tim Herron, Jeff LaVoi and Mike Anderson - and Republican Jody Manuel are also seeking the seat up for election this year on the three-member County Commission.
Incumbent Commissioner Pat Conway, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election.
Dahlin, a lifelong county resident, won't have to run in the June primary and will automatically appear on the November ballot. Dahlin, 32, said he was largely inspired to seek public office by his aunt, former Hill County Justice of the Peace Carol Chagnon. He said his broad work experience and ability to work with other people make him well-qualified to be a county commissioner.
For the last six years, Dahlin has been worked in the maintenance department of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway in Havre. Prior to that, other jobs included working on his family's farm and ranch southwest of Havre, construction, carpentry, roofing and janitorial work.
Dahlin also spent seven months in Australia following his graduation from Montana State University-Northern in 1991. While he was there, he worked for a small, family-owned farm and ranch and a corporate-owned cattle operation that managed between 18,000 and 20,000 cattle at a time.
"The more people you work with in jobs or different situations, the better you can relate to the variety of people in your county," he said.
To run as an independent, Dahlin had to collect the signatures of 240 registered county voters.
"It was more about what I believed in," he said. "I believe more in voting for the candidate or the issue rather than the party. I feel like I'm more in the middle. I feel like both parties have some good principles, but I would like to see the two sides work together."
A county commissioner needs to be prepared to handle both prosperity and hard times, Dahlin said.
"Growth would be a good thing if we can get it. If we don't get the growth, we need to be prepared for that as well," Dahlin said.
His background will be useful when dealing with difficult situations, Dahlin said.
"I was brought up to be honest and fair and will bring these principles with me in the office of commissioner. I am a good listener and a fast learner, which I think are important qualities when dealing with the public. I care about our county and it's future," he said.
Accountability in local government is critical, Dahlin said.
"I would also like to see that our tax dollars are spent effectively and accounted for. I would like to see people have respect and trust for their county government," he said.