By Tim Leeds
The 2002 election in Hill County has two more candidates.
Hill County Commissioner Doug Kaercher has filed for re-election, and Hill County Attorney David Rice has also announced he will seek another term.
Kaercher, a Democrat, won election to his first term in 1996.
The fiscal stability of the county has been his primary concern in office, and he said that if he is re-elected, it will continue to be the most important issue. It's difficult at times with the changes legislators make in county funding, he added.
"During the legislative session they always switch the way the county is funded. I believe we've done a pretty good job keeping the county's head above water," he said.
Kaercher said legislative action, like cutting business equipment taxes and having the state collect nontax revenues and apportioning them back to the counties, has made it difficult to keep the county's budget in the black. The effect of having the state apportion nontax revenues, like fees, is still to be seen.
"It's still an unknown out there how much will come back," he said.
He takes great pride in helping get the county government up to date with technology. Kaercher said the county is just coming to the end of upgrading all of the county's hardware and software so it is state of the art. He listed having e-mail access and a county Web site as major accomplishments of the commissioners in the last few years.
He enjoys the work he does for the county, Kaercher said, and considers himself a success because of the pleasure he gets from his work.
"It's actually kind of fun to take a budget that doesn't seem like it's going to work and make it seamless," he said.
Kaercher is a lifelong resident of Hill County. His wife, Darla, is a teacher at Highland Park School and their three children attend the Havre Public Schools.
Before being elected in 1996, Kaercher worked on his family farm and owns Topflight Inc., where he worked on and repaired airplanes. He still owns the business, though he said he doesn't have time to work at it now.
Kaercher serves on the board of the Montana Association of Counties, is chairman of the North Central Juvenile Detention Center, and is vice chairman of the Golden Triangle Mental Health Center governing board. He was appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services advisory board, is a member of the Board of Crime Control's juvenile detention board, the Montana Association of Counties' Human Services Committee, and other local boards.
He served on the Havre City Council from from 1988 to 1993 and on the Hill County Study Commission from 1994 to 1996.
Rice said in a press release that his professional relationship with all law enforcement agencies in Hill County will allow him to serve effectively as the people's advocate.
A native of Conrad, Rice was first elected as Hill County attorney in 1986. He was active in the creation of the Tri-Agency Drug Task Force.
Rice, a Democrat, serves as legal adviser to public schools, elected officials and public boards in the county.
Rice chairs the local Montana State University-Northern executive board, chairs the Hill County Council on Aging, and is a board member and past president of the Montana County Attorneys' Association. A member of the National District Attorneys' Association, Rice recently was chosen to serve on the faculty at the National Advocacy Center to conduct trial training for other prosecutors.
Rice and his wife, Havre native Linda Rice, have two daughters who are both graduates of Havre High School and the University of Montana in Missoula.
Rice earned his law degree at the University of Montana Law School. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve and the Montana Army National Guard.