Havre Daily News
A fourth candidate has filed to run for an upcoming vacancy on the Hill County Commission.
Havre fire captain and emergency medical technician Mike Anderson on Friday became the third Democrat seeking the seat. He will face off against Tim Herron and Jeff LaVoi in the June 8 primary election. The only Republican to file so far is Jody Manuel.
Incumbent Commissioner Pat Conway, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election. He represents Commission District 2. Voting for County Commission candidates is countywide.
Anderson, a 22-year veteran of the Havre Fire Department, cited his ability to work with other people and his previous political experience as his primary attributes in the race.
"I've lived in Havre my entire life. I've served the people of Havre and Hill County for the last 22 years as a firefighter," Anderson said, adding that he will retire from the Fire Department if he is elected.
"This is a hard decision, and that's one reason I filed a little late," he said. "It's not often that a person finds an occupation that they truly enjoy."
Anderson, 42, said his work as a firefighter and EMT has given him "experience in working with people, bringing people together, and problem solving."
"I learned a lot being a firefighter," he said. "We have to be able to make informed decisions."
Like the other three candidates, Anderson said economic development is one of the biggest issues facing Hill County.
"That's what it comes down to, I think. We need more jobs," he said, adding that he is optimistic about the economic future of Havre and Hill County.
"I personally see good times on the horizon, but we have to be prepared to embrace that with the proper infrastructure to grow," he said.
The county has benefited from the influx of new permanent Border Patrol personnel and gas exploration and drilling crews, he added.
Anderson is a Havre native. He attended Havre Public Schools and joined the Fire Department in 1981. He is president of the Montana State Fireman's Association, having been elected on an annual basis since 1996. He was the group's vice president from 1993 to 1996. The association, which has about 450 members statewide, works to preserve the retirement plan of professional firefighters who work in Montana, Anderson said.
"Basically we lobby the state Legislature to protect and enhance our retirement," he said.
Anderson is also a member of the Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters. He served as vice president of the group from 1987 to 1994. The organization is affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters, a union which has nearly 300,000 members.
Anderson also served on the Havre school board, being elected to a three-year term in 1990. In 2001 he was elected vice chair of the Hill County Democratic Central Committee and became a member of the executive board of the state Democratic Central Committee.
Anderson said his experience working with the various groups will be an asset if he is elected.
"My elected positions have given me the ability to work statewide," he said. "I have worked with our legislators in Helena on a consistent basis. Last year, I went to Washington, D.C., and lobbied for firefighter issues at the federal level."
Anderson said his experience with grant funding would also be useful. Working with Bear Paw Development Corp., he helped secure $50,000 to build new sidewalks at the Kiwanis Campground in Beaver Creek Park. He also helped his wife, administrator at the Eagles Manor, secure funding for a special project at the retirement home.
"I've worked with her up there to secure grants that allowed us to create a computer center. I teach the elderly residents how to use the Internet and also how to use e-mail so that they can communicate with their children," he said.
Anderson said he plans to campaign using signs and going door-to-door.
"Certainly we'll meet with any group that wants to," he said.