It’s been less than two months since the Nov. 2 general elections, but Flathead County already has a candidate in the 2012 county commission race.
Local businessman Terry Kramer announced his candidacy at a recent Pachyderm Club meeting, which he described as a friendly environment to do so since he is running as a Republican for the District 3 seat.
The decision to run, however, came even earlier.
“Six months ago, I decided to run,” Kramer said. “We just waited until the election was done. The governor candidates have come out, Senate candidates have come out, so the next down the line is the commissioners.”
Commissioner Dale Lauman currently holds the District 3 seat, but Kramer said Lauman informed him that he would not seek reelection in two years. Kramer also said he would not have challenged Lauman if the incumbent had decided to run again.
Having lived in the valley since 1987, Kramer owns and operates Kramer Enterprises, Inc., a local building and development company. And though the construction industry has taken considerable hits during the recession, Kramer said his business is growing.
“I think I bring a lot of business sense to government,” Kramer said. “I’m in an industry that has been decimated by this economy, but we’re still here and we’re surviving.”
Kramer also touted his activities on various boards and councils throughout the valley. He is currently the outgoing president of the Flathead Builders Association, the outgoing chairman of the board for the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, an incoming member of the county Board of Adjustments and an executive board member for the Montana Building Industry Association.
Other memberships include being a past director for Habitat for Humanity, a past director for the Gateway Community Center and a former member of the Ashley Lake Land Use Advisory Committee. He was also the 2008 Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Businessman of the Year and the 2008 Flathead Builder of the Year.
Involvement with so many organizations has allowed him to serve the community, Kramer said, but he wanted to take the next step into public service. Lauman encouraged him to run, Kramer said, but does not explicitly endorse him.
“It’s a six-year term, it’s a big commitment,” Kramer said. “(Lauman) said ‘Absolutely run.’”
Before he announced his decision to throw his hat in the ring, Kramer said he canvassed a potential support base to see if a run would be plausible. Already, he’s built up diverse support, he said, and has pledges for campaign contributions.
He also plans to have a website up after the first of the year. Kramer said he realized how early his candidacy seems, but also said a countywide campaign is expensive as well as extensive. It’s going to two years to build up funds and get his name out there among a busy election, complete with presidential, congressional and state elections.
“It’s going to be a cluttered race in 2012,” Kramer said. “It’s just going to take this much time to put together a good successful campaign.”
Kramer and his wife, Debbie, have four grown children in the Flathead, as well as six grandchildren. Running for office would give him the chance to give back to community he has lived in for almost 25 years, he said.
“The Flathead is our home,” Kramer said. “It’s important to us.”
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