By Tim Eberly
Some Hill County Republicans used a wait-and-see tactic in filing for the upcoming county election.
Three Republicans filed just before the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday, leaving only four Democrats running unopposed for county offices. Before the trio filed Thursday, only one Republican, Byron Welter, had filed. Welter filed on Monday for the County Commission seat held by Democrat Doug Kaercher.
"We were kind of waiting to see who filed. People that run for these offices like to see who their competition is," said Brad Lotton, chairman of the Hill County Republican Party. "It's a big step to campaign. Some of them had to put some serious thought into it."
Rozan Kerr, who acted as treasurer for Mayor Bob Rice's recent campaign, filed to run against Democrat Carol Bachini-Wood for Hill County public administrator. Wanda Mork, a deputy treasurer in the Treasurer's Office, filed to run for county treasurer and assessor, and could face her supervisor, incumbent Democrat Carrie Dickson, in the general election.
Another Republican, Gail Solomon, filed Thursday for the Hill County auditor position. She will run unopposed in the June primary election, but will face deputy auditor Kathy Olson in the general election. Incumbent Mary Ann Trumpour has chosen not to run.
"We didn't just file people to fill the hole," Lotton said today. "That's why we left a few empty, because the Democrats that were there are more formidable than what we could get in there."
Democrats running unopposed in the election include Clerk and Recorder Diane Mellem, Sheriff and Coroner Greg Szudera, County Attorny David Rice and Superintendent of Schools Shirley Isbell.
Solomon's husband of 23 years, Ted, also filed Thursday to run for the Legislature in Senate District 46.
"I guess it's a big step for me," Gail Solomon, 53, said today. "I feel I can do a good job, and I've learned a lot in the past, just listening to Ted. He's really up on the stuff, and he's made me more aware of things."
In an interesting twist, a woman who was fired from the Treasurer's Office in July, Democrat Kathleen Galbavy-Williams, has filed to challenge her former boss in the Democratic primary.
Dickson said she couldn't comment on why Galbavy-Williams was terminated.
Kerr, 45, originally intended to run in the treasurer's race, but decided instead to run for public administrator because of a scheduling conflict. Kerr, a single mother of two children, manages Marguerite's Shop in Havre and is planning to maintain her employment there.
"At this time, I need to stay working at the store and I can't do two jobs at one time," Kerr said today. The county administrator position "is more flexible and I can work it in my schedule."
A 1973 Havre High graduate, the 46-year-old Mork has spent the last year as the deputy treasurer after she was promoted from the position of clerk.
"It's going to be interesting," said Mork, who has an associate's degree in accounting from a business school in Idaho. "I've never gotten involved in public office before, so it's going to be new to me."
Ted Solomon has never held political office, but is no stranger to elections. In 2000, he ran against Gary Feland of Shelby for the Public Service Commission. Six years earlier, he ran against Greg Jergeson for state Senate.
In addition to working as a rancher, Ted Solomon has also owned several small businesses in Hill County, for which Gail has done the bookkeeping. He owns Solomon Fire Equipment and is a natural gas producer, but also owned a crop-dusting business, Solomon Flying Service, until 1988.
"I think with my involvement in small town businesses along the Hi-Line for the past 40 years, I have a good understanding of the economy," Ted, 65, said. "I've been successful in a number of them."
Galbavy-Williams, nicknamed "Kitty," is a 51-year Hill County resident who now teaches part time at the Eastend Hutterite Colony.
"It's time for a change," Galbavy-Williams, 54, said. "I know I can do the job, and I'm confident I can make some positive contributions to the county."
Before her current teaching job, Galbavy-Williams split 15 years between driving a school bus and managing the office at Badland Tree and Landscaping.
Democrat Ken Hansen of Harlem will face Blaine County Commissioner Art Kleinjan in the Democratic primary in SD 46.
The winner of that primary race will face Ted Solomon in the general election. Solomon is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
Jergeson could not seek re-election to the state Senate in SD 46 because of term limits and is running for a seat on the Public Service Commission. Incumbent Gary Feland is the Republican in that race.
In House District 90, Bob Bergren, a Democrat, and incumbent Republican Merlin Wolery are both running unopposed in the primary and will face each other in the general election. Bergren is from Havre; Wolery is from Rudyard.
Four Hi-Line residents running unopposed in the primary will face opposition in the general. Incumbent Democrat John Musgrove and Ron VandenBoom, a Republican, have both filed for the House District 91 seat. Jonathan Windy Boy, a Democrat from Box Elder, has no opposition for the primary, but will face a Harlem resident, Republican Andrew Brekke, in the House District 92 general election.
In Senate District 45, incumbent Democrat Jon Tester has no opposition in the primary or general elections.