And the race is on
Two Stillwater County commissioner candidates filed on opening day last Thursday, bringing the race to a total of three people.
Al Nordahl of Molt and Tyrel Hamilton of Park City have launched campaigns to replace Commissioner Maureen Davey, who is not seeking re-election for the District 3 seat.
Also hoping to seek that seat is Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy, who lives outside the district but has filed a formal request in state district court requesting an injunction that would allow him to file to run. Specifically, Brophy is challenging the requirement that a candidate live within the district for which they are running for two years.
A MOLT RANCHER
Nordahl, 64, is a longtime Molt-area rancher who has served as a volunteer on the county Weed Board for 22 years this month.
He told the News last week that running for office has been on his mind for years, and a need to change “the political atmosphere at the courthouse” prompted him to turn that thought into action.
The ongoing issue of the old hospital and the need for more county office space is one situation Nordahl cited as problematic.
“It’s embarrassing that a citizen has had to file a suit against the commission,” says Nordahl.
Secrecy on the part of some of the commission board is another motivating factor, he said.
“The secrecy has got to stop,” says Nordahl. “The headlines are embarrassing.”
He is also concerned with employee morale, adding that employees need to be treated much differently than what is currently taking place.
Nordahl’s family roots in Stillwater County are deep, with his grandfather having homesteaded. He holds a business finance degree from Montana State University in Bozeman. He is running as a Republican.
Tyrel Hamilton, 33, is all about public service, having been a Columbus Rural Fire Department fire fighter, as well as serving on the Economic Development Committee and the Stillwater County Library Steering Committee in recent years. His days are spent at the family business of Columbus Ace Hardware, as well as the family’s farm and ranch, located five miles west of Park City.
Hamilton sees the chance to grow the community by attracting new businesses and residents “while still holding onto the small town values that we have all come to enjoy.”
The ability to listen first, then ask the right questions is something Hamilton says he has learned in his years of working in retail and customer service. That lesson is something Hamilton says he can bring to the position of commissioner.
“I truly feel that a willingness to listen, learn and help are a few of the biggest things I can bring to the County Commission office,“ says Hamilton.
Like Nordahl, Hamilton touched on the issue of secrecy.
“I feel in today’s political landscape, transparency is key to running a successful government,” Hamilton wrote in a news release. “Our county is a great place to raise a family and I am excited for the opportunity to provide the next generation the same opportunities I had growing up in Stillwater County.”
Hamilton is running as a Republican.
The first political candidate to file last Thursday at the Stillwater County Clerk & Recorder’s Office was Stillwater County Sheriff Undersheriff Chip Kem, who is running for sheriff/coroner.
The 48-year-old lawman has more than 27 years of law enforcement service under his belt, which includes nine years of supervisory, administrative and budgeting work in the sheriff’s office.
Kem is a fifth-generation Stillwater County resident who is funding is own campaign. He is running as a Republican.
Other candidates who have filed include Stillwater County Justice of the Peace Lee Cornell and Clerk & Recorder Heidi Stadel.
On the state level, Columbus resident and incumbent Rep. Forrest Mandeville has also filed to run again.