Election Primer: What You Need to Know

By Beacon Staff

Flathead voters will head to the polls Tuesday in an off-year election likely to draw significantly fewer to the ballot box than last year’s presidential race. Check out the Beacon‘s Web site Tuesday night for up-to-the-minute results.


In Kalispell, polls will be open in the Expo Building of the Northwest Montana Fairgrounds from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you’re not registered but wish to vote, you can register and vote at the old Flathead County courthouse.

Kalispell’s city elections have three contested races. Newcomer Tammi Fisher is challenging incumbent Pam Kennedy for mayor. Marc Rold is challenging incumbent Jim Atkinson for Ward 3 councilman. Jeff Zauner is challenging incumbent Hank Olson for Ward 2 councilman. Check out our questionnaires with the Kalispell candidates here.

In addition to three contested city council races, Kalispell voters must also decide on whether to renew the technology and building-reserve tax levies of $2.8 million for elementary schools and $4.1 million for high schools. The $6.9 million goes to such needs as technological improvements in teaching equipment, building and renovating classrooms and enhanced safety measures.

Kalispell voters and county residents who live in a school district that feeds into Flathead and Glacier High can vote on these levies. Voters in Kalispell and West Valley vote at the fairgrounds. Voters in feeder districts vote at their schools, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at West Valley, Evergreen Junior High, Helena Flats, Lakeside Elementary and Somers Middle School. Smith Valley School’s polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polls are open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Kila, Cayuse Prairie, Pleasant Valley, Creston, Deer Park, Fair-Mont-Egan, the Marion fire hall and Olney-Bissell. Late registration is not available for these school levy votes.

Also on the ballot in Kalispell, voters will be asked to approve a new 20-year lease with the city for Buffalo Hill Golf Course. The course is managed by the Kalispell Golf Association, which is looking to make as much as $2 million in improvements, and wants the reassurance of a long-term commitment from the city before investing in new improvements. That vote doesn’t cost taxpayers any money, and instead, lease fees have actually added to the city budget over the years.


In Whitefish, four council members are running for three open seats in a heated race. Check out questionnaires with candidates here and analysis of the issues in the Whitefish elections here.

It is an all mail-in ballot election, and ballots must be turned into Whitefish City Hall or the Flathead County Election Department by 8 p.m.


In Columbia Falls, there are no contested city council races since newcomer Matt McConville withdrew, though his name remains on the ballot. Columbia Falls now has three candidates for three council positions: Shawn Bates, Michael Shepard and Dave Petersen. Current councilman Don Barnhart is the sole candidate for mayor, and his imminent vacancy on the council must be filled by appointment. Voting will take place at Columbia Falls City Hall from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There are no write-in candidates for any of the city elections. For more info, contact the Flathead County Election Department at 406-758-5535. Now get out there and vote!

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