By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Two local lawyers are challenging incumbent Cyndee Peterson in a race to be elected Hill County attorney this November.
Democrat Dan Boucher and Republican Randy Randolph both filed as candidates this week. Boucher and Peterson, also a Democrat, will square off in the June 8 primary. The winner of that race will face Randolph in the general election in November.
Whoever wins the election will serve the remainder of a four-year term left vacant last year by former County Attorney David Rice, who was appointed state District judge. The winner of the November election could then run for a full four-year term in 2006.
The Hill County attorney is responsible for prosecuting all felony cases within the county and misdemeanors in Hill County Justice Court as well as advising county officials on legal matters. The position pays $66,283 a year.
Boucher, formerly a deputy county attorney and now a public defender, has practiced law in Havre for nearly 20 years. He joined the law firm of Frank Altman in 1984 following his graduation from law school at the University of Montana.
His work has included civil litigation, criminal defense, family law and personal injury claims.
Boucher said today his "experience in the profession, connections to the community, and ability to work with people" make him a solid candidate for county attorney.
Boucher applied for the job last year when Rice resigned. Although the Hill County Commission chose Peterson for the job, Boucher said, he decided to seek election to the office "after being contacted by several people in the community who encouraged" him to do so. Randolph, also a criminal defense lawyer, is a Havre native. He graduated from Havre High School in 1991, Montana State University in 1996, and the law school at the University of Montana in 1999. He is a public defender in Blaine County, a position he previously held in Hill County. His legal experience includes tax, personal injury and probate work, he said this morning.
"I do a pretty broad spectrum, but my specialty is criminal law and family law," he said.
Randolph cited his experience in criminal law and his "understanding of the needs of the community" as his strongest qualifications to be county attorney.
It is the first time he has sought office.
"It's something I thought about since I first moved back to Havre," he said.
The Hill County Commission in August appointed Peterson to replace Rice when he donned a judge's robe. Rice had served in the County Attorney's Office for more than 30 years.
Prior to Peterson's appointment, she had served as deputy county attorney for 2 years. The Circle native received a bachelor's degree from the University of Montana before attending law school at the University of Akron in Ohio. She was admitted to the Montana State Bar in 1997.
Thursday was the last day for candidates to file for any of the three offices up for election this year, including one seat on the County Commission and clerk of District Court.
Five candidates have filed for County Commission, while incumbent Clerk of District Court Dena Tippets is running unopposed.
The annual salary for the Hill County clerk of court is $33,485.
Three Democrats, a Republican and an independent are seeking to represent District 2 on the County Commission. Incumbent Pat Conway will retire at the end of his term this year.
The three Democratic candidates are Tim Herron, Jeff LaVoi and Mike Anderson. Jody Manuel is running on the Republican ticket, while Wyatt Dahlin has filed as an independent.
Herron, LaVoi and Anderson will face each other in the June primary, and the winner's name will appear on the ballot with that of Manuel and Dahlin. As an independent, Dahlin automatically bypasses the primary election ballot.
The salary for a county commissioner is $34,865 a year.