Some races crowded on Yellowstone County ballot

2014-05-05T00:00:00Z 2014-05-07T14:06:07Z Some races crowded on Yellowstone County ballotGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
May 05, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Voters in Yellowstone County will have a number of contested races to vote on when they receive their mail ballots this week.

Possibly the most crowded race is for the Yellowstone County combined office of treasurer, assessor and superintendent of schools.

Max Lenington, a longtime county official, is not seeking re-election.

Appearing on the Republican ballot for the office are:

Sherry Long, a current employee in the treasurer, assessor and superintendent’s office. Long said in a Gazette interview that she embraces the meaning of “public servant,” has worked for various county treasurer and assessor offices across the state for 29 years, the last seven of which have been in the superintendent of schools office here in Yellowstone County.

Richard W. Nixon, retired in 2012 from his business, Nixco, as a levy officer. In a Gazette interview, he said he is seeking the treasurer’s job to strengthen the county, to ensure that people pay their taxes and to improve service to customers. As a levy officer, Nixon said he worked with the court system to collect judgment fees.

William Selph, who previously was a finance director for former Rep. Denny Rehberg. Selph, in a Gazette interview, said he plans to cut the often long wait for vehicle title and licensing service, while also making office business more transparent for the public. A Billings native, Selph said he would like to improve customer service by upgrading technology in the county office.

Marci Shafer, a current employee in the treasurer, assessor and superintendent’s office. Shafer has worked for the county for 13 years, the first six years in the motor vehicle department and the last seven years in the treasurer’s office. She told The Gazette that her number one qualification is her knowledge and experience in those two offices. She added that she has helped streamline operations in the treasurer’s office.

Patty Driscoll is the only Democrat seeking the job. She is a certified public accountant at KC and Company, a Billings accounting firm, which she told The Gazette provides “really great customer service.” She has been a CPA since 1998.

In the race for county commissioner, District 1, John Ostlund, the incumbent Republican, is seeking re-election. Ostlund is seeking his third six-year term.

Two Democrats are on the ballot for county commissioner: Jim Ronquillo and Darryl S. Wilson.

District court candidates

District Judge G. Todd Baugh’s decision to retire helped generate five candidates to replace him: Corbit Harrington, Michael Moses, Bill O’Connor, William Speare and Rod Souza.

Although Moses was recently named to a District Court judgeship by Gov. Steve Bullock, his name will still appear on the primary ballot. Moses was appointed to the seat left vacant when Susan Watters took the position as a federal judge.

Both Yellowstone County justices of the peace have opposition. Dave Valdez is challenging David Carter, who was appointed to the bench in January. Lita Pepion filed as write-in candidate last week, seeking Carter’s position. Michael Mayott and Steven Feuerstein are seeking to replace Pedro Hernandez.

Sheriff’s Deputy Valarie Juhl announced that she will run as an independent against her boss, Sheriff Mike Linder, a Republican. By law, Juhl must file a petition with 1,615 registered voters’ signatures by May 27 to get on the November ballot as an independent.

Incumbent County Auditor Debby Hernandez will face Rebecca Rhodes West in the Republican primary.

Ballot issues

Voters will decide whether to establish a Yellowstone County Government Study commission.

Billings voters will decide whether the city should form a government review and study commission.

Voters in Laurel will decide on a park maintenance district and on a local government review and study commission.

County Election Administrator Bret Rutherford said the county will be mailing a little more than 45,000 ballots. While estimating a turnout is difficult, Rutherford said primary elections, even ones with contested races, typically don’t generate a lot of interest.

“It will probably be a snoozefest at the polls,” he said.

If there is a record turnout, it will be because of absentee ballot returns, Rutherford said.

Absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on June 3. Every packet should have a Republican and a Democratic ballot, each with printing on both sides. Voters should contact the election office if a packet does not have complete ballots, he said.

Voting instructions also advise in “huge bold letters” at the top of the page that voters can vote only one ballot, Rutherford said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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