An area agricultural producer became the first candidate to file for the Hill County Commission seat now held by Pat Conway, who is not seeking re-election.
Tim Herron, a third-generation farmer and rancher, has filed to run for a six-year term on the three-seat commission. He is a Democrat.
Conway, also a Democrat, cited two reasons for not seeking re-election.
"One is I just didn't want to run because my wife and I would like to spend more time traveling and spend more time with our grandkids," he said.
The second reason is that Conway now lives in a different district than he was elected in. If he wanted to continue to serve after his term expires in December, he would have to run in 2006 against fellow Commissioner Kathy Bessette. who is also a Democrat. He said he has no plans to do so.
Conway was appointed to the commission in 1995, when his predecessor resigned halfway through the term. Conway was elected the following year to serve the remainder of the term, then ran for election again in 1998, winning a full six-year term.
He said today he has mixed feelings about not seeking re-election.
"I've enjoyed the job and I've learned a lot," he said. "I've enjoyed working with the other commissioners and working with the people of Hill County on the various projects. We've made some good headway."
Conway was raised near Gildford, where his parents farmed. He stayed in Gildford through the eighth grade, then moved to Havre, where he graduated from Havre Central High in 1957. After serving for 18 months with the U.S. Army in Germany, he returned to Montana and earned a degree from the University of Montana. He worked as assistant principal and principal at Havre High School for 24 years, retiring in 1992.
This is Herron's first run for public office. He said today he believes he is well suited for public service.
"It's just time that I started contributing back to the community," said Herron, 43. "I'm at a point in my life where you focus on what's important, and right now, our community is very important to me and I think I can be an asset to the people of Hill County. I see lots of good things in our community. I have no agendas."
Herron said his 15 years of experience as a reserve deputy for the Hill County Sheriff's Office has made him more aware of the needs of other people.
"That was one of the areas in my life that taught me how to listen to people. You encounter people that are at low points in their life and that are reaching out for help," he said.
Herron also cited his experience as a farmer and rancher as qualifications to be a county commissioner.
"With the agricultural background, you know the ups and downs of being in agriculture, and you know how to adjust accordingly to meet the up and down times," he said. "You have to learn to adapt to challenges you can't control."
Herron said that if he is elected, he plans to continue economic development efforts in the community.
"We're headed in some very challenging times with our declining population and tax base, and maintaining services is going to be difficult," he said. "Of course, we have to keep our eyes open to sources of economic development in order to keep our community viable and healthy."
According to a press release, Herron attended St. Jude Thaddeus School and Havre Public Schools, then earned an associate degree in business management from Miles City Community College. The press release said he has served on the Hill County Conservation District Committee and the Northern Agricultural Research Center Advisory Council. He also served for six years on the St. Jude Thaddeus School Board and on St. Jude's Finance Council.
Herron has also been active with the Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department and has worked as a first responder with the county's Quick Response Unit. The unit consists of volunteers who are trained to give basic medical attention to people in rural areas before emergency personnel arrive. Herron has completed basic emergency medical technician training, he said.
Herron said that if he's elected, he will "truly enjoy working with all the diversified groups that make up Hill County."
"I know that by working together we can maintain a strong and stable community for years to come," he said in the press release.
Herron is married and has four daughters.
The salary for a Hill County commissioner is $34,865 a year.