Showing a strong victory in a traditionally Democratic stronghold, an independent candidate won his bid to be the next Hill County commissioner.
Jeff LaVoi defeated Democrat James “Jim” Catt Jr. with 54.6 percent of the vote, 2,806-2,326.
“I feel like those football players when they score,” LaVoi said Tuesday night during his victory speech at Hill County Republican headquarters on 1st Street in Hill County. “I want to thank the Lord. I think the victory’s just started, and they’ll keep going as we do His will.”
LaVoi filed as an independent after members of the Hill County Republican Party approached him to run for the position, and endorsed his candidacy after he filed.
He was defeated by Democrat Mike Anderson in the 2004 primary when LaVoi ran as a Democrat. He said this year he ran as a Democrat that year against his better judgement, and that he thinks party politics have no place in local races such as for commissioner.
Catt, who defeated the incumbent Anderson in this year’s primary, said he wishes LaVoi and the commission great success in the years to come.
“I knew this was going to be a close race, but it turned out not to be as close as I thought,” he said in an interview this morning. “Jeff and I have totally different views on how the county should move forward, but I know he will do a great job.
“He is a great guy and was great to run against,” Catt added. “I respect him.”
Catt carried five of the 18 precincts in Hill County, with a spread in votes of 40-30 in Precinct 18 at Box Elder, 95-55 in Precinct 28 at Rocky Boy, and 219-148 in Precinct 10 at Lincoln-McKinley in the central and eastern part of Havre.
In LaVoi’s precincts, the difference ranged from razor thin — he won with 202 votes to Catt’s 199 in Precinct 1 in the Historic Havre area — to more sizable margins. LaVoi won with an astounding 81.2 percent of the vote in Precinct 25, Wildhorse and St. Joe, 155-36.