A Bear’s Paw Mountain rancher plans to enter the race for Hill County commissioner as an independent. Jeff LaVoi, who ranches south of Havre on Taylor Road and works at the John Deere dealer Moodie Implement Inc., said he picked up forms from the Hill County Clerk and Recorder’s Office Wednesday to start collecting the 133 signatures of registered voters he needs to turn in by March 8 to file as an independent. LaVoi, who ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 2 0 0 4 a s a Democrat, said he thinks the position should not be connected to a party. “I know when we need a road graded out here, they don’t ask if I am a Republ i can or Democrat ,” he said. I n c u m b e n t Democrat Mike Anderson is the only candidate to have filed so far. He defeated LaVoi and Tim Herron in the 2004 Democratic primary. Anderson, who was a 23-year Havre firefighter b e fo r e ta k i n g office as commissioner, went on to defeat Republican candidate Jody Manuel and independent Wyat t Dahlin in the general election with 39.1 percent of the votes. Manuel and Dahlin received 34.8 percent and 23.3 percent respectively. Anderson said this morning that he thinks LaVoi’s filing is a good thing. “That’s how the system works,” Anderson said. “Anybody that wants to serve publicly should take a shot at it.” LaVoi said he has not begun to collect signatures in his push to run as an independent, but he has heard that others already have begun to do so. He said that he has not been directly contacted by anyone who is collecting signatures for him. He said he has be e n approached by Democrats and Republicans who asked him to run, and he has heard some dissatisfaction about the county government, especially from farmers and ranchers. He said his personal experience will help him in the position if he is elected, adding that he had planned to retire this year — he will be 65 in April. “As much as I love it, I need to do more than ranch,” LaVoi said. He was co-owner of the Havre John Deere dealership in the 1980s, then left to manage another dealership in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1986, LaVoi said. He eventually sold his share of the Havre dealership, but returned to Hill County in 1997. “In hindsight, I was kind of sorry I left Montana, and that’s why I came back,” LaVoi said.
LaVoi to challenge Anderson
Published: Thursday, February 4th, 2010
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