Election Day for Billings City Council is Tuesday, just six days from now. As of Tuesday, only 9,049 ballots have been received back at the Yellowstone County Elections Office. If you are among the majority of Billings voters who have yet to return your ballot, it's time to vote and mail that ballot.
This is the Primary Election to winnow the field to two candidates in each of five city wards. Only two candidates are running in Ward 3, so the voters in this midtown neighborhood don't get primary ballots. Both Danny Choriki and Aldo Rowe will be on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot. The winner will succeed Chris Friedel, who did not seek re-election.
Registered voters in the other four wards received their ballots in the mail a week and a half ago. The city elections are nonpartisan, so candidates don't and can't run as representing a political party. There will be no polls open on Election Day, all voting is by mail ballot.
The simplest way to return ballots is to vote, seal the ballot in the secrecy envelop, put it in the mailing envelop, sign and put a regular letter stamp on the envelop and mail it. The Yellowstone County Elections Office recommends mailing ballots no later than Friday to assure they arrive in time for counting on Tuesday.
Here are the City Council nonpartisan primary choices:
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- Ward 1: Kendra Shaw, John S. Armstrong and Jim Ronquillo in this ward covering Alkali Creek, North Elevation, North Park and South Side neighborhoods. The top two vote getters will vie in November to succeed Councilman Brent Cromley who could not seek re-election because of term limits. Under the City Charter, council members are elected to four-year terms, and a person may serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms. Ronquillo previously served two terms on the council.
- Ward 2: Roy Neese, Michael Richardson, Randy Heinz and Roger Gravgaard in this Heights ward. Neese was appointed earlier this year to finish the term of Larry Brewster, who resigned. Gravgaard ran in Ward 2 years ago, losing to Frank Ewalt.
- Ward 4: Pam Purinton, Daron Olson, Gordon Olson, Carmelita Dominguez and Nicole Gallagher in this ward covering northwest Billings. Matthew J. Senn's name is on the ballot, but he notified The Gazette that he was no longer seeking the council seat. The top two vote getters in the primary will advance to the Nov. 5 election and that winner will succeed Reg Gibbs, who was appointed to finish Ryan Sullivan's term after he resigned.
- Ward 5: Dennis L. Ulvestad, Leilahni Kay, Mike Boyett, Jennifer Merecki and Frederick J. Wilburn in this southern West End ward. The top two candidates will be on the ballot again on Nov. 5 and that winner will succeed Councilman Dick Clark who did not seek re-election.
Shepherd School bond
Shepherd School District voters also have important ballots due Sept. 10. They are deciding on a school bond issue to improve the safety and expand the space in buildings serving K-12 students. Voters in Pioneer School District also are casting ballots on the high school portion of the proposed bond issue. As of Tuesday morning, 1,109 ballots had been returned to the elections office.
Please make your opinion count: Return your city council and school bond ballots by mail or deliver them to the Yellowstone County Elections Office on the first floor of the county courthouse before 8 p.m. Tuesday.