Libby Mayor Doug Roll has announced he plans to run for reelection in November. Roll, 57, filed the appropriate paperwork with Lincoln County on Tuesday morning.
Roll was first appointed to the Libby City Council in 2003 and later appointed mayor in 2008. He was first elected mayor in 2009. Roll said in his more than four years in office he has helped move the city forward and improve its infrastructure.
“I just felt that I needed to finish these projects, but I also think I still have a lot to offer the city of Libby,” he said.
Roll first came to Libby in 1968, when his father got a job building the Libby Dam. Since then, Roll has worked as a miner and a mechanic. He’s owned DP Automotive on Education Way since 1994 and at times the garage also serves as the mayor’s office.
Whoever is elected mayor faces several challenges. In 1999, much of Libby was designated a Superfund fund site because of the asbestos-laden vermiculite that was mined there until 1990. The cancer-causing asbestos has killed hundreds and sickened thousands. Lincoln County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Earlier this spring, Stinger Welding Co. closed its doors, eliminating another 70 jobs.
But Roll said progress is being made, citing Libby’s new Waterfront Park, built on the very site W.R. Grace and Co. loaded rail cars with vermiculite.
“We were able to turn a contaminated industrial site into a beautiful park,” he said. “It was a high priority for myself and most of the council to turn things around. To be positive and to move Libby forward.”
Libby is also moving forward with a $12.4 million water system improvement project that will start this spring with the replacement of more than 7,000 feet of distribution pipe under the city. The largest part of the project, the replacement of the Flower Creek Dam south of town, will be put out for bid late this year and completed in 2014.
With the completion of the water system and dam project, Roll says he would like to shift his attention toward the rest of Libby’s infrastructure. Roll said paving streets will be a big priority if he is elected for a second term and hopes that projects like that will help bring people and business back to town.
“We’re cleaned up, ready to go and open for business,” he said.
Earlier this year, councilor Allen Olsen accused the mayor of breaking ethical and conflict of interest laws when his shop fixed a city-owned vehicle. Roll said it was an honest mistake and that he did nothing wrong. In March, Roll reimbursed the city of Libby $363.70 for work the garage did. Olsen has since filed a civil action lawsuit and says Roll will have a hard time being reelected in November. Roll disagrees.
“I think people view it as a side show, because none of the allegations are legitimate,” he said.
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