Havre Daily News
Havre voters overwhelmingly re-elected incumbent Mayor Bob Rice on Tuesday.
In other races, the city judge and an incumbent Democratic City Council member defeated their opponents. In the only other contested City Council race, the Republicans picked up another seat on the council.
Rice, a Republican, defeated Ward 1 Democratic City Council member Pam Hillery by more than 600 votes. According to unnofficial election results, Rice had 1,523 votes to Hillery's 903.
“I'm happy with it. It was a team effort,” Rice said. “I've never had so much support. I thank the Lord. I'm grateful.”
Rice said he will continue to work on infrastructure and keeping the city clean. The proposed First Street reconstruction project, set to begin as early as the spring, will be a priority, and Rice said he will continue to work with Montana Department of Transportation officials to ensure the work goes smoothly.
Rice also said he has some new projects on his agenda. He said he has been approached by some people who have said they would fund a recreation center for the city if he can find a location for it.
“I've got to get with the council and parks and rec,” he said. “We're trying to work things out. It's in the planning stages.”
Rice also said he will try to combat high natural gas prices in Havre. He said area wells supply places like Missoula with natural gas, but Havre customers pay the same price others do.
“I'm looking at some options there,” he said. “I don't know how viable they are.”
Hillery has two years left on her City Council term.
Hillery criticized Rice during her campaign, saying he does not communicate well with the City Council, Hill County officials and citizens. She also said he micromanages city service workers. Hillery said she would communicate effectively and would strive to include as many people as possible in her decision-making process.
“I'm disappointed my message was not understood or accepted by the voters,” she said Tuesday night. “That being said, I stressed throughout my campaign that Havre will have a good mayor on Nov. 9.
“I will continue to ask questions,” she added. “I will continue to pressure for appropriate action, and improved communication between the mayor and the council, the city and the county, and the city and Havre residents.”
In the citywide nonpartisan race for Havre city judge, incumbent Joyce Perszyk defeated challenger Rozan Kerr 1,368 to 1,043.
In Ward 4, Democratic City Council member Allen “Woody” Woodwick kept his seat by defeating Republican challenger Shane Ford 375-204.
In Ward 3, Republican challenger Bob Kaftan defeated Democrat Bob Kaul 324-281.
In Ward 2, incumbent Republican City Council member Terry Schend ran unopposed and garnered 459 votes. In Ward 1, Democrat Gerry Veis also was unopposed and got 551 votes. Veis defeated fellow Democrat Dave Brewer in the Sept. 13 primary election.
A total of 2,443 voters went to the polls. Hill County deputy election administrator Betty Williams said this year's turnout of active voters was 58 percent, slightly higher than the 57 percent in 2001, the last time city voters elected a mayor and city judge.
Rice took all four city wards on his way to a second term. After hearing the results, he thanked those who supported him and said, “They know what to expect” for the next four years.
The results for Wards 1 and 2 came in at about 10:15 p.m, with Ward 4 following shortly. Ward 3 results were announced after 11 p.m.
Rice's widest margin of victory was in Ward 1, Hillery's home ward, where the count was 416-212. His narrowest margin was Ward 2, where he garnered 365 votes to Hillery's 249. In Wards 3 and 4, Rice won by 150 votes, with totals of 378-228 and 364-214, respectively.
In the race for city judge, Perszyk won all four wards on her way to winning a third term. She has served as Havre's judge since 1997.
Perszyk said she enjoyed seeing old friends while campaigning in the city but is more than happy to return her full focus to City Court.
“It'll be good to get back to just concentrating on the job,” she said. “Getting back to the grind is good.”
Kerr's only comment was “good race.”
Woodwick said he is looking forward to serving on the City Council for another four years. It will be his second term.
“I'm very grateful to all the voters that turned out and appreciative of the people that supported me throughout the election,” he said.
Ford declined to comment.
Kaftan thanked his supporters and said he is ready to get on the job.
“I'm looking forward to doing my best,” he said. “I'm excited. I hope to keep in touch with the citizens of my ward.”
Kaul said he will continue to be active in the community and offer his input on important issues.
“As a private citizen, I can still be involved in the city of Havre and the things that are coming before us in the future,” he said. “It was a good race. I have no regrets. Congratulations to Mr. Kaftan.”
Hill County Republican Party chair Brad Lotton said the party was pleased with the election results.
“We have a little say on the City Council,” he said.
County Democratic Party chair Debi Friede said she is disappointed with the results of the mayoral race.
“We truly wanted Pam to win,” she said. “Even though I thought the election could go either way, I thought it would be closer. Our candidates did a good job campaigning. I thought we took the high road. I'm proud of our candidates.”
In the Hingham nonpartisan city election, Mayor Ray Lipp got 47 votes, Alderman Roger Haas received 52 votes, Alderman William Spicher got 46 votes, and Alderman Larry Horinek got 49 votes. All were unopposed. Haas and Spicher were elected to four-year terms, while Horinek was elected to a two-year term.