Richard Klose secured the Ward 4 position on the Laurel City Council by just three votes.

Actually, make that "with" just three votes. That was the total number of people who lifted Klose into the council seat. This was all news to the man.

"I got a call stating that I was the winner," said Klose, 74. "I thought 'Well, I didn't know I was running.'"

Klose didn't run for the council position. Out of the 52 votes cast in Ward 4 on Nov. 7, he received a plurality. 

Yellowstone County Elections Administrator Bret Rutherford said that most write-in candidates get one or two votes. Some people write in fictional people. Twenty-seven "legitimate" names secured write-in votes for that ward.

Rutherford said the three votes for Klose actually tied with another write-in name, but it wasn't one registered in Laurel. All Klose had to do was fill out a form within 10 days of the election to accept his victory as a write-in candidate.

He did that and paid the fee of $36. He'll be sworn in on Jan. 2.

“I figure since I have the time, I should probably give back to the community," he said. "So that’s what I'm going to do.”

No one else ran in Ward 4. The outgoing council member for the ward is Tom Nelson, who instead ran this year for the mayor position.

Nelson lost that bid, though that's the subject of another peculiar Laurel election story. A city public works employee named Dave Waggoner won that election, but city officials say he should choose between his job and the mayor position to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

Klose would be on the council if it ends up having to nominate an interim mayor, but it's still unclear what will happen with that dispute. For now, he said he'll "have to see what the lawyers say."

On the council, Klose said he's interested to weigh in on veterans and senior issues. He's retired and has lived in Laurel for 27 years.

The people who voted for him might know him as vice commander for the American Legion in Montana and Post 123 member.

They also might know him as a board member for the Yellowstone National Cemetery, the Laurel Senior Center or the Adult Resource Alliance. He said he stays busy.

However those three votes came to Klose, he said it was a nice surprise.

“I think I found out who one of them was, but I don’t know who the other two are," he said. "But I'm not gonna hold it against them.”


General Assignment Reporter

Reporter for The Billings Gazette.