Council picks Brekke to fill vacant position
Last updated 5/27/2020 at 11:45am
After interviewing three people who applied to fill a vacancy on Havre City Council, in a split vote the council Tuesday appointed an applicant with experience in the position.
Council voted 4-1-1 to appoint former council President Andrew Brekke to fill the seat vacated by Caleb Hutchins, who resigned to move to Spokane to take a position at Spokane Community College.
Council members Terry Lilletvedt, Denise Brewer, Karen Swenson and Ed Matter voted for Brekke, while Lindsay Ratliff voted for applicant Tim Brurud and Sarah McKinney voted for Mitchel Dolphay.
"I think all of you know me. I had the privilege of serving with all of you for the better part, almost a month shy, of 11 years that I served on this council," Brekke said during his interview.
At that time, he said, he was a member of Ward 4 then moved to Ward 3 and had to resign his position.
"I think, probably in my professional career this would be a decent opportunity for me to step back in, at least for a portion of the time until the next election that would serve," he said. "I'd have to question whether or not I would run, but I think I might be able to do that."
He said he was encouraged by a number of people in his neighborhood to apply.
As for his previous experience, it speaks for itself, he added.
"I'd be a quick study to come back on. I think even though I'd been pretty absent for the almost two years that I've been out - letting you guys do your thing," Brekke said. "I applaud your service to the community as always, and if you should see fit to put me back on I'd be honored to, but I won't be offended if you see someone else with new blood."
Ratfliff said the Ordinance Committee has met and is proposing a charter for Havre which will be on the ballot this upcoming election in November.
"What are your feelings about our
city government moving to a charter, and how will you help with that?" she asked Brekke.
He said he is in support of that "1,000 percent."
"There is no downside to a charter whatsoever, there are only upsides," he said.
"Any limitations or concerns the city needs to write that in the charter, it's just like a Constitution. The charter itself doesn't grant you any additional power beyond what you specifically write in your Constitution - in your charter, so to speak, and if there is any issues the courts weigh it out."
Brewer asked him how he feels about special improvement districts and what his experiences with are them in the past.
He said when he was on the council in the past he was an advocate for SIDs.
"I was a full supporter of SIDs because I do think that's the proper mesh we're going to have to do in Havre in order to solve our infrastructure problem," Brekke said. "The property owners are going to have to step up, because the city is never going to be able to fully fund the infrastructure needs of this city without the political problem of treating one resident against another."
Brurud said he wants to get involved with local government.
"I've been a member of this
community for about 20 years now," Brurud said. "My wife and my children moved with me here back in 2002. Originally, I came here to attend Northern Montana College, now MSU-Northern."
He said he received his
bachelor's degree in secondary education, and he taught high school science in Geyser and Stanford.
He has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Montana, he added.
In wanting to join the council, he said, he sees it as a mindset of service.
"I believe in part of being a good citizen is being able to give back, support and help the community when that's possible," Brurud said. "I'm at a point in my life, my four children have now all left ... it kind of frees up the time. So, I have the time to do this and I also think that I bring some skills and abilities to the position."
He said he thought he could provide a fresh perspective to the council.
He has worked at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line for 18 years, he said, adding that during that time he has interacted with thousands of children and their families from all different backgrounds.
"I've been able to see and hear a lot about what affects the people of Havre," Brurud said. "... I also bring perspective from different viewpoints, I think, as a council member. I've been a parent, so my children all went through Havre Public Schools and participated in activities in the community. My wife and I have owned businesses here. We currently have property, retail, rentals and residential rentals as well and are long supporters of MSU-Northern."
He added that he also has experience serving on boards similar to the City Council such as Youth Justice Council of Montana and Montana Board of Crime Control.
Lilletvedt asked him if he'd be willing to serve a second term and, he said he would.
"I wouldn't just come in for a little bit and take off," he said. "I wouldn't be asking to serve if it weren't for the long-term."
Ratliff asked what are his long-term goals that he has for the city of Havre.
He said he thinks infrastructure is the biggest issue that faces Havre and that issue of SIDs needs to move forward.
She also asked if he would be interested in taking a six-week online course that Montana State University Extension offers to learn about local government.
Brurud said he would take the course.
"I understand that being a part of this group is not just a once a month thing; this is ongoing kind of every day, educating yourself, getting opinions, working together," he said.
Dolphay said he originally was from Dodson, adding that he moved to Havre in 2006, went to college where he received his civil engineering technology degree then got a job with Heberly Engineering.
"While I was working with Heberly Engineering, I got a good chance to go out and meet a lot of people in the public and what it's like to work with them and get something accomplished with them," he said.
After leaving Heberly Engineering, he said, he got a job with the Montana Department of Transportation in the construction department and is working on a project on the highway east of Havre.
"The reason I applied for this position is that I got two little girls that I would like to make sure they have a good place to grow up, become adults and possibly stay or move on whichever they see fit," Dolphay said.
He said his wife, Bobbie Dolphay, is the chair of the Great Northern Fair Board.
Lilletvedt also asked him if he was willing to serve a second term and he said he would be open to it.
"I like knowing what's going on and being involved," he said. "It's a good way to get involved in the community and help out anywhere I can."
She asked him to expand on his background and how he put on his application will help the infrastructure.
When working with the Montana Department of Transportation, he said, he gets a chance to see what it takes to build the road, the costs and the maintenance costs to see that road going.
He added that he sees infrastructure as the biggest issue.
"If we do see an issue or something, I might have an idea or have a lot of resources to go to that, might have some ideas, find some better ways or cheaper ways that we can get the streets and everything repaired without breaking the bank or getting the public riled up," Dolphay said.
Ratliff also asked if he would be interested in taking the six-week online local government course.
He said it is a good thing for the opportunity to always learn and gain knowledge, so he would be in favor of taking the course.
Havre City Council next meets Monday at 7 p.m. in City Hall.