By Tim Eberly
Havre's mayoral candidates share at least one stance on an issue: putting the recent controversy over Pizza Pro's political signs in the city's rear view mirror.
The controvery began when two well-known Democrats Hill County Democratic Chairman Debi Friede and former Democratic Central Committee member Nancy Peterson told Pizza Pro employees they would boycott the restaurant because the owner had posted signs in his window supporting Bob Rice for mayor.
Both said they thought it was inappropriate for a business to display a political sign. Peterson, who is campaign treasurer for Democratic mayoral candidate Mike Shortell, said she asked owner Russ Luke to also display a Shortell sign.
"After it was done, I figured what's done is done," Shortell said. "I attributed it more to youthful exhuberance and not maliciousness on (Friede and Peterson's) part."
Republican candidate Bob Rice is Luke's close friend. Rice said he didn't ask Luke to put the sign up, but rather Luke did it on his own accord. And, Rice said, that's his business.
"He's a stand-up guy," said Rice. "He wanted to put the sign up. That's the one good thing about this county. We have the freedom to do that. There's going to be people that like it and there's going to be people that don't."
Shortell said Luke has the right to display any sign he wants to, but he also thinks Friede and Peterson have a right to boycott the restaurant.
"I don't subscribe to boycotting. I think anybody should be able to put a sign in their window," he said. "But it didn't bother me that they had (boycotted). They have a right to do that."
However, Shortell said his opponents may have overextended themselves on the issue.
"I think the Republicans have made a little too much out of this but that's their right too," Shortell said. "I don't blame Mr. Luke for being upset. I don't blame anybody."