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Hill County treasurer race heats up


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In a new twist in a campaign full of them, Kitty Galbavy-Williams filed as a write-in candidate for Hill County treasurer today, less than three weeks before the general election.

Galbavy-Williams, who lost to incumbent Carrie Dickson in the Democratic primary in June, filed with the endorsement of the Hill County Republican Central Committee.

The filing comes four days after the Republican candidate, deputy treasurer/assessor Wanda Mork, dropped out of the race, citing family obligations that would keep her from devoting time needed for the job.

Republican leaders alleged today that Mork had planned all along to drop out if her boss, Democrat Dickson, defeated Galbavy-Williams in the June primary.

Hill County Republican Central Committee Chairman Brad Lotton said that if Galbavy-Williams had won the primary, Mork would have stayed in the race and then appointed Dickson as her deputy if she won, keeping the leadership in the office the same.

"This was preplanned from the get-go," said Lotton, who offered no proof to support the allegation.

Mork said, "This is ridiculous," and declined to comment further.

Dickson said Mork's decision to drop out of the race was a personal decision, and that Dickson never suggested she drop out.

Galbavy-Williams had five supporters with her when she filed for the position, including Havre Mayor Bob Rice, Lotton, Hill County Commission candidate Byron Welter, and Bill and Gail Rader.

Rice said he attended school with Galbavy-Williams and was with her as a friend, not as mayor.

"From Day One it was a setup," he said.

Mork didn't work with the Republican committee, and never asked for any money for her campaign, Rice said.

"It's apparent her heart wasn't in it," he said.

Galbavy-Williams said running as a Republican suits her beliefs better than the Democratic ticket.

"They have the same philosophy I do of smaller, less government," she said.

The reason she ran as a Democrat in the primary was because she had a job lined up if she lost in the June primary, she said. Galbavy-Williams is a teacher's aide at the Gildford Colony School.

Her eight years working in the treasurer's office gave her the experience she needs to do the job, Galbavy-Williams said. She has some ideas about how to run the office more efficiently, and would run it with honesty and integrity, she added.

"That's why I'm not there now, honesty and integrity," she said.

Dickson fired Galbavy-Williams from her job in the treasure's office in spring of 2001. According to Galbavy-Williams, Dickson fired her when she questioned a fund used in the treasurer's office to balance accounts and for small office expenditures.

The fund was originally used to balance the office's daily books if it was short a small amount, 26-year treasurer's office employee Janice Rosgaard has said. When Dickson took over as treasurer, she began using it for expenses like birthday cakes for office employees, coffee and decorations for the office, Rosgaard said.

Rosgaard resigned in July 2000. She was Galbavy-Williams' campaign manager last spring.

Galbavy-Williams told another county official about the account. On May 29, 2001, Hill County Attorney David Rice sent a letter to Dickson saying the fund was inappropriate and should be closed. He said last spring that he did not consider the account to be illegal.

On May 24, 2001, Dickson suspended Galbavy-Williams for nine weeks with pay. Galbavy-Williams received a letter from Dickson dated May 23, 2001, stating that an investigation was being conducted on her duties and conduct as a clerk.

When Galbavy-Williams' lawyer suggested she waive her right to a hearing in front of Dickson and have a three-member panel review the case, Galbavy-Williams was fired the next day, she said.

The panel, consisting of former state Rep. Ray Peck, Hill County Superintendent of Schools Shirley Isbell and Lynda Taplin, vice president of Heritage Bank, unanimously upheld Galbavy-Williams' termination and denied her request to have documents removed from her personnel file.

Dickson and other county officials have said Galbavy-Williams' firing was a personnel issue and have declined to discuss it.

Bill Rader said he hopes this election can help unify local government.

"The divisiveness in a town like this is really the pits," he said.


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