10 candidates seek seats on City Council
Six Democrats and four Republicans have filed to run in the Sept. 9 primary elections for five Havre City Council seats.
The deadline for filing to appear on the ballot was Thursday at 5 p.m.
In Ward 1, Gerry Veis and Pam Hillery will face each other in the Democratic primary for a four-year term. The winner of that race will face Republican Russ Luke in November.
Incumbent Doug Larson, a Democrat, did not file for re-election in Ward 1.
In Ward 2, Republican Jerry Hanson and Democrat Rick Pierson filed for a four-year term. Hanson and Pierson ran against one another in Ward 2 in 2001. The race was declared a tie and Pierson was appointed to a two-year term by the City Council.
Democrat Gary LaValley and Republican Terry Schend filed for the open two-year seat in Ward 2. The incumbent in that ward, Republican Gary Schubert, a Republican, did not file for re-election.
Republican Debi Rhines, who is Terry Schend's daughter, and incumbent Democrat Jack Brandon filed to run for a four-year term in Ward 3.
In Ward 4, City Council member Emily Mayer, a Democrat, was the only person who filed.
Hillery, 42, worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Helena for 10 years before moving to Havre 2 years ago.
During her tenure in Helena, she was elected to the Helena Citizens Council, which serves as a liaison between the Helena City Council and the community. Former Citizens Council members include former gubernatorial candidate Mark O'Keefe and the current mayor of Helena, James E. Smith.
Hillery serves as the treasurer of the Havre Elementary PTO and membership secretary of the Hi-Line Concert Association, coordinates Vatican Bible School for three local churches, is a former assistant Cub Scout den leader, and manages the concession stand for the Havre Youth Soccer Association.
Hillery said a top priority of hers will be to improve communication between council members.
"City politics should be non-partisan," she said, adding that drawing party lines can make communication difficult.
"Local government decisions about fire protection, infrastructure, financing, and street maintenance, along with a long list of other important city functions, should not be partisan or framed in a way that encourages unnecessary conflict," she said in a press release.
"Havre is a wonderful community of caring people," Hillery said today. "I was astounded at how nice everyone is here. It really impressed me. We can carry that and make Havre even better."
Hillery is married to Paul Tuss, who is executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp. The couple have two children.
Local business owner Russ Luke will make a bid for the Ward 1 council seat. Luke, who has lived in Havre for 14 years, owns the Pizza Pro restaurant in Havre.
Luke, 43, said one of his primary goals would be to promote local businesses and strengthen the local economy.
Luke said that although he has little experience in politics, he has a history of public service. He sponsors a number of youth programs, donating time, money and pizza to church youth groups and local youth sports teams.
"I'd just like to serve Havre," he said, "serve the people of Havre and listen to their concerns."
Brandon, 68, has served on the City Council in Ward 3 for four years. He is a retired middle school teacher, and has lived in Havre since 1967.
"I wanted to stay on the council for another four years because there's a lot of important issues coming up," Brandon said this morning. He listed tight budgets and infrastructure issues, particularly on First Street, as examples of particularly important issues in the next term.
"I think it's important to continue on the council with people who have had some experience," Brandon said today.
Mayer, 31, has served eight years on the Havre City Council. She was the regional field organizer for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus' campaign in 1996. She was a precinct committeewoman in Ward 2 for the Democratic Party between 1994 and 1999. She has been president of the Hill County Democratic Women's Club since 1997, and has served as the alternate state committee member for the Hill County Democratic Central Committee for the past four years.
Mayer is a personnel clerk for Hill County and manager of the Clack Museum. Mayer also is Havre's historic preservation officer, which is a volunteer position.
Mayer said this morning she feels some of the most important issues for Havre in the next term will be providing economic development opportunities, downtown revitalization, and improvement of infrastructure.
"A vibrant downtown proves that you have a vibrant town," she said.
LaValley, Schend, Veis, Hanson and Pierson were not available for comment this morning. Rhines said she didn't have time to comment this morning.