Editor's note: This is the final in a short series of articles to acquaint area voters with candidates whose names will appear on the June 6 primary election ballot at various voting sites within Hill County.
Hill County officials running for re-election have many things in common, including the fact that each one said they love their jobs. All are also unopposed and Democrat, with the exception of Justice of the Peace Terry Stoppa, whose position is nonpartisan. The sole newcomer is Democrat Patricia Childs, who is running for the public administrator seat.
Kathy Bessette is running for re-election for county commissioner in District 3. Bessette, who currently chairs the commission, is in her 16th year on the job. She said the bottom line to her decision to run again is because she enjoys the position, which has a six-year term.
“Maybe it sounds crazy, but I love my job. I get to work with great people,” Bessette said Wednesday. “There is not a morning when I wake up not happy to come to work.”
She said the job is never boring, although she joked, “sometimes I wish it were.”
Bessette has lived in Hill County most of her life and continues to farm her grandmother's homestead north of Havre with her son.
She said she is particularly proud of three projects: renovation of the Havre City-County Airport terminal building, reconstruction of Beaver Creek Road and revamping the county's hiring policies.
“It's fun finding solutions to problems. It's working, I think - things click,” Bessette said.
Also on the ballot will be Shirley Isbell, who has been Hill County superintendent of schools for about 20 years. The position has a four-year term.
Before taking on the role, Isbell was executive director of District IV Human Resources Development Council in Havre and director of the Northern Montana Head Start program.
The Hill County resident of 35 years said she is very pleased with the services that are in place for the county's students. Isbell said she is running for re-election to take care of “unfinished business” in areas like
transportation, school funding, retirement and special education.
Isbell said she is satisfied with the way the consolidation of Blue Sky and Kremlin-Gildford school districts has taken place.
She has 22 years of college education including master's degrees in elementary education, guidance and school leadership, and she is finishing a doctorate.
Diane Mellem, clerk and recorder, has also filed for re-election for another four-year term. Mellem has been in the position since 1982. Prior to that she worked in various jobs with the county including clerk secretary for the Hill County Commission. She has lived in Havre since 1968.
Mellem said she chose to run again for a few reasons, including to help get the county through the transition into new voting machines for the disabled, which will be used for the first time during the June primaries, to move the election department into its own office and to continue work on transferring information like mortgages and deeds from microfilm to digital imaging.
She said she is proud of many accomplishments she has made while in office.
“I have been surrounded a with fantastic staff. I am only as good as the people that work with me,” Mellem said.
Carrie Dickson, Hill County treasurer/assessor, who is in her 12th year in the position, also said she has a wonderful staff. The Havreite of 20 years said in the new year she hopes to reorganize the office to be more efficient.
The job has a four-year term. The primary will be held June 6 and the general election is Nov. 7.
Kathy I. Olson is seeking re-election as Hill County auditor.
Olson was born in Great Falls and lived south of Cascade until her freshman year in high school. She moved
with her family to Havre when she was a sophomore and graduated from Havre High. She served eight years in the Air National Guard. She attended Northern Montana College and received a bachelor of science degree in business. While attending college, she worked part time in the Clerk and Recorder's Office. Upon graduating from college, she took a full-time position in the Auditor's Office. She worked in the Auditor's Office for six years, four of those years as deputy auditor. She was elected as the Hill County Auditor in November 2002.
Her husband, Larry works for BNSF Railway. They have one son, Max, who will soon turn 4 years old. She said the family enjoy sports, whether as players or spectators.
“My position requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail, which I have always enjoyed,” Olson said. “I like working with the various department supervisors, employees and vendors. I also enjoy the challenges that come about because of the ever-changing laws and situations that arise in this office.
“I must continue to work hard at fulfilling my duties in an efficient and effective manner for Hill County,” Olson added.
Patricia Childs, who is running on the Democratic ballot for Hill County public administrator, was born and raised on a farm and have lived in the Havre-area most of her life. Childs has four grown, successful children whom she is “very proud of for their accomplishments.”
“I adore my grandchildren and cherish the time I have with them and look forward to every opportunity to teach them new things,” she said.
As a former farmer and rancher, and small business owner, the Havre community has been an important part of her life. Childs, who is employed with Patrick Construction, said she enjoys working with the public and with the administrator position she will bring her strong sense of morals and ethics to the families she will be serving.
“The community should feel confident that I am an honest and trustworthy person and capable of performing the duties required,” she said.
Jonathan Windy Boy has been representing House District 32 for four years. He is running for unopposed another term.
Windy Boy also has been on the Rocky Boy tribal council for the last eight
years. He said he decided to initially run for the seat because he wanted to deal with tribal issues head-on at the state level.
to be at the table for issues that effect the tribe,” Windy Boy said today.
He has served as vice-chair of the state Agriculture Committee and also committees on human services, business and labor.
Windy Boy, who has lived on the Hi-Line most of his life, said he is proud of government to government communications he helped to bring forward between tribal and state leaders.
Windy Boy said he has had an impressive success rate during his sessions, which he is especially proud of because he is a Democrat in a Republican-controled house.
His next ventures will include working on state prisoner issues. He said he is concerned with the percentage of Native American women incarcerated, which is 40 percent and of that number 80 percent are methamphetamine-related. Windy Boy helped to form a meth task force at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and said one of his main goals are to increase the number of after-care facilities and to bring more spirituality into the treatment of those addicted to meth.
Another issue close to his heart is the environment. Windy Boy has been involved in efforts to fund future water treatment at the Zortman-Landusky mine in the Little Rocky Mountains. He said he also is concerned with the possible impacts of a proposed coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls on the air and water along the Hi-Line.
He said he plans on throwing his hat in for house leadership in one form or another, possibly on a appropriations committee.
Jim Rice is running for re-election as a Montana Supreme Court Justice. The 48-year-old has been a justice since 2001, when he was appointed by Gov. Judy Martz and confirmed by the state Senate by a 50-0 vote.
“I believe in the rule of law and the protections and benefits it provides for our democratic society. As a Supreme Court justice, my role is to ensure that the law is applied and interpreted as intended by the citizens, as they have expressed themselves through the adoption of our state and federal constitutions, and through their elected representatives not as I would personally prefer it,” Rice said.
He graduated from Glasgow High School in 1975, Montana State University with a bachelor's degree in political science in1979 and University of Montana School of Law in 1982.
“I believe society is best served by stability and predictability in the law, because our citizens
make many decisions based upon the current state of the law,” Rice said. “Thus, justices should
honor judicial precedent whenever possible
and resist the temptation to change the law to fit their own philosophies.”
Rice has worked as a firefighter, Lewis and Clark County public defender and a partner for the Jackson & Rice Law Firm. He was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 1988, 1990 and 1992, served as Majority Whip for the 1993 session, was chair of the Board of Personnel Appeals from 1995 to 1999.
“As a former state representative, I respect the legislative process, and believe that changes in the law should be made in that open and deliberative way,” Rice said.
He has been married to the former Norine Nelson of Hinsdale, for 26 years and has three daughters and two grandchildren.
“I'm thankful for the opportunity I've had to serve on the Court and would appreciate everyone's support,” Rice said.
Also on Tuesday's ballot are 12th Judicial District Court Judge David Rice and Public Service Commissioner Greg Jergeson of Chinook.