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Gazette opinion: Shocking death of Laurel Mayor points to the truth: We are not out of the COVID woods

Gazette opinion: Shocking death of Laurel Mayor points to the truth: We are not out of the COVID woods

9/11 remembrance ceremony

Laurel Mayor Tom Nelson speaks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Montana State Firefighters Memorial in Laurel.

The COVID death of Laurel Mayor Tom Nelson is a huge shock and a great blow to the city. We offer our condolences to Nelson's family.

Nelson had a long history of public service. He served for seven years as Laurel's Ward 4 councilman before running for mayor in 2018 (and losing but becoming mayor anyway when the victor, city employee Dave Waggoner, didn't show up to be sworn in.) As a councilman, Nelson showed great leadership in negotiating with the state over funding for the city's vital water intake project.

Since becoming mayor, he has done a solid job of representing the city's interests. He was proud of separating fire and ambulance services, improving ambulance response.

He won reelection in 2019, facing only write-in opposition. Nelson ran emphasizing experience and solid accomplishment. As Laurel continued to grow, that experience and knowhow in working with other levels of government played to the city's advantage. He was fiscally prudent, pragmatic and knowledgeable.

It is one more tragedy in a cavalcade of tragedies brought on by this virus. As with every one, we can only hope that the shock of losing this dedicated public servant will motivate individuals, organizations and governments to take the necessary steps to protect all of us.



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