2013 Election Guide: Municipal Races for Libby & Troy

By Beacon Staff

Ballots are in the mail and the 2013 election season is officially underway from now until Nov. 5. Here’s a breakdown of the municipal races Libby and Troy:

LIBBY
Libby is a city trying to redefine its future. Will the old timber and mining town try and remain the industrial center it always has been or will it change gears and try to attract visitors and tourists, much like its neighbors in the Flathead have done? Perhaps both?

On the top of the ballot, incumbent Mayor Doug Roll and councilor Allen Olsen face off in one of the most noteworthy municipal races in the area.

Roll and Olsen have butted heads for more than a year on everything from Olsen’s residency to Roll’s work for the city.

Also on the ballot are seven candidates aiming for three open seats on the council. Incumbents Robin Benson, Barbara Desch and Vicky Lawrence will attempt to defend their seats against Arlen Magill, Joanne Woods Newman, Michael Shock and Brent Teske.

The issues facing the council are many, including a massive water system and dam project that has cost millions of dollars and was delayed earlier this year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the next council will also have to look at how to revamp Libby’s economy and how to deal with the longterm affects of the asbestos cleanup and EPA Superfund.

TROY
For a town of less than 1,000, Troy has more than its fair share of political theatrics.

Last year, the tiny town grabbed headlines when it recalled its mayor, Donald Banning, because of a dispute with a handful of councilors.

After Banning was ousted, he was replaced by long-time mayor Anthony Brown who is now running against newcomer Darren Coldwell. There are four candidates for Troy’s city council, with two seats open. Incumbent Phillip Fisher is seeking reelection against Kimberly Rowse, Donna Lee Rugani and Dallas Carr.

Like Libby, Troy is looking to reinvigorate its economy, which took a devastating hit last week with the announcement that the Troy Mine would be closed for at least another year.

Lincoln County has some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and trying to realign itself as a recreational destination may be the ticket for success in Troy.


Candidates were asked the following Questions:
1. Why are you running and what makes
you a strong candidate?

2. What do you feel are the most pressing
issues facing the city and why?

3. How can the city council aid economic
recovery in your city?

Editor’s Note: The Beacon offered all candidates an opportunity to include questionnaires in this election guide. Those who declined were: Arlen Magill, Joanne Woods Newman and Brent Teske, all city council candidates in Libby.

Q&A: LIBBY MAYOR


NAME: Allen Olsen AGE: 55
OCCUPATION: Business Owner
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 55

1. I am running because I believe that we need a big change in our local government; number one is transparent government, we need our local officials to listen to the public, with all discussions made without public input. Our incumbents do not let the public know anything that is going on with tax dollars spent, most of our grant dollars leave our town and some even leaves the state. It is not right when Lincoln County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. It has been said you cannot build a community on grant dollars, even though this is true it is a damn good start. We also need to quit the pet projects and start spending money on the infrastructure of Libby and quit taking the highest bidder on projects. Even if they are not the highest bidder at first, most of them find a way with or without the incumbents help to a whole lot more money than their bid came in at. Libby has been at a down hill spiral for the last four plus years. It is time to stop out of town and state wasteful spending and get our town back on track.

2. The Flower Creek Dam project along with all the infrastructure and determining where the money is going to come from. It is said that 70 percent of our water is leaking under our streets. I don’t believe that to be a true statement, I think it’s more of a scare tactic. None of the water that the city uses is metered. So all of the water use in River Front Park, the Cemetery, Fireman’s Park, Lincoln Blvd., around city hall, splash pad, and the list goes on. But the incumbents won’t tell the people that. Our streets are also a big issue, we paid big money for an asphalt zipper that we are not using, but our current Mayor thinks it’s OK to lend it out to his friends. The EPA has tore up our already-bad streets for 12 years now with no offers, that I am aware of, to help us fix them. I have been told we don’t have weight restriction on our streets, so we can’t blame them. We need to start being honest to the people that put us in office.

3. First a foremost by at least spending OUR Libby’s grant dollar here. It is said if you spend your money locally that it is spent another seven times before it leaves our community. We have an out-of-town concrete company doing our sidewalks in town, when we have five or six concrete companies in town and most of them unemployed right now. What kind of warranty do you think we get from an out-of-town contractor, when they’re gone and paid in full? Do you think they care what kind of job they did here in Libby? Also by not throwing money to their friends. There was a man that came to several council meetings and mentioned hydropower studies for the Flower Creek Dam, they listened with no intentions of doing anything, then along comes one of their associates and mentions the same thing, and the last I heard there was a $17,000 grant for that. Don’t know where that money went. We are going to become a retirement town and we also need to show that we can and will help our senior citizens, and we have the resources to promote tourism.

NAME: Doug Roll AGE: 57
OCCUPATION: Mechanic
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 45

1. I am running for Mayor to finish the many projects that we have started, most notably the dam replacement and the required water main, PRV installation. I feel my experience, five years on council and five years as Mayor, gives me the necessary qualifications for the job. I feel honored to have been able to serve a community that holds a very special place in my heart.

2. The most important issue facing Libby, besides the dam replacement, are job opportunities available to our young people. Our economy has been devastated by an overzealous environmental agenda that never takes into account the effect on our local citizenry. We must come together as a community, with one voice, and let our congressional delegation know that we have the ability and know-how to mine and log in a responsible manner.

3. As far as what the city can do, I feel that we need to provide the necessary infrastructure and business tax environment to attract new and maintain existing business in our community. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Q&A: TROY MAYOR


NAME: Anthony E. (Tony) Brown AGE: 65
OCCUPATION: Prep Lab Supervisor
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 65

1. In June of 2012 I was appointed as mayor to replace Don Banning who was recalled. Having served as Mayor of Troy in the mid to late 1970s, I realize how important it is for a city to have strong
leadership. I have 35 years of business experience. I am pragmatic; I know how to get things accomplished. I understand the importance of community involvement. I am a good listener. I treat everyone the same. I am polite, honest, fair, and tough. One of Troy’s greatest assets is its many volunteers. The community of Troy has never failed to offer a helping hand when needed. My opponent is a good man. I have more experience and savvy and should remain in the office of Mayor. A lot has been accomplished in the past year and a half and there is more to be done.

2. The problems that have occurred at the Troy Mine have certainly impacted the town. I am confident in time the mine will be back in full production and full employment. Every community experiences ups and downs. Troy is uniquely located as the Northwest Gateway to Montana on route to Glacier Park. Hundreds of thousands of travelers pass through Troy each year. I have for the past year beendeveloping a plan to make Troy a des tination for visitors. Troy has a rich mining and logging history. This past year Troy was gifted 23 acres along Callahan Creek which runs through the middle of Town.
Our Museum Center is located on that property. 7 miles up the Callahan Creek Canyon is the Historic Snowstorm Mine. In its day the Snowstorm Mine was connected to Troy by a narrow gauge railway. Connecting Troy Museum Center to the Snowstorm Mine with a hiking and biking trail would make Troy a destination. Travelers need to know what Troy has to offer and they need a place to pull over. Troy has an abundance of water and electricity and is business friendly. As for pressing issues, Troy needs to continue to move forward improving the park system, the cemetery, water and electric systems, streets and sidewalks. Changing the administration of Troy every couple of years is counterproductive and is not conducive to positive growth. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I would like to finish the job I was asked to do.

3. By making Troy an attractive place to live and work. By working with new businesses to help them get started. By helping.

NAME: Darren Coldwel AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Owner Booze ‘N Bait
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 22

1. The decision to run for mayor is not one that I take lightly. We as residents of Troy have witnessed not only an economic downturn, but also a division among our leaders. My background with over twenty years of experience in both business and public service has taught me the importance of strong leadership. I am not afraid to serve the public and make the hard decisions that we face. I have the experience, the knowledge, the skills and the abilities to be Mayor of Troy. I have committed myself to improving the quality of our community over the years, serving on such boards as the Lincoln County Port Authority, Troy area Planning Board, Troy School Board, and the Troy Volunteer Fire Department. I am a fiscal watchdog that will fight bigger government, higher taxes, and most of all wasteful spending.

2. Troy is one of the greatest towns in Montana. We now face challenges that need to be solved if we are going to prosper here. The most important challenge is getting our economy moving again. People are hurting as they struggle just to make ends meet. We are all worried about our future, and that of our children, and grandchildren. As mayor I will pledge to make every effort to encourage industry to come back to Troy. Our community has advantages as we go about the task of diversifying our economy for the future; we have an extremely qualified work force, we have property to locate new businesses, we have a natural resource base in our timber and mining, and we have the infrastructure to support our efforts. With over twenty years of business experience in Troy, I bring with me the necessary tools to improve our quality of life and the necessary knowledge to help Troy prosper.

3. Troy’s city council must be a free enterprise advocate who believes lowering taxes encourages economic growth, which in turn helps the entire community. Economic recovery must be aided by a proactive city council. To begin with the council and the mayor have to support those companies that have already taken the risk and invested in our community. Companies such as Revett Minerals who have been good neighbors and stewards for the town of Troy, Montanore who have long fought for the right to be a contributing employer in both Troy and Libby, and the small business owner who has managed to keep the doors open over the economic downturn that we all have lived with. When a community has a working, capable, and cohesive council striving towards one goal, economic recovery can be achieved.

Q&A: LIBBY CITY COUNCIL


NAME: Barbara J Desch AGE: 59
OCCUPATION: Owner of R Office
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 22

1. I am running for City Council because I would like to see our new dam project completed. I would also like to see more streets paved and continue to improve our aging water system. I have worked with our residents in the past with replacing sidewalks and would like to be able to get more sidewalks replaced. The past four years of experience on the council makes me a strong candidate along with all the training I have received.

2. The most pressing issues the city is facing at this time is replacing our dam. Our current dam will no longer pass inspection and it could be a potential hazard to our city. We need to get the new dam built so we will continue to have enough water for city residents.

3. I feel the city council can aid economic recovery in our city by improving our infrastructure. We need to continue to improve our water mains and continue to get our streets paved. By making these improvements this will make it more inviting for businesses to want to move into our city.

NAME: Robin Benson AGE: 51
OCCUPATION: Deputy Clerk
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 35

1. I am running for City Council because I would like to see our new dam project completed. I would also like to see more streets paved and continue to improve our aging water system. I have worked with our residents in the past with replacing sidewalks and would like to be able to get more sidewalks replaced. The past four years of experience on the council makes me a strong candidate along with all the training I have received.

2. The most pressing issues the city is facing at this time is replacing our dam. Our current dam will no longer pass inspection and it could be a potential hazard to our city. We need to get the new dam built so we will continue to have enough water for city residents.

3. I feel the city council can aid economic recovery in our city by improving our infrastructure. We need to continue to improve our water mains and continue to get our streets paved. By making these improvements this will make it more inviting for businesses to want to move into our city.

NAME: Michael Shock AGE: 64
OCCUPATION: Retired
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 7

1. I’m running for the position of city council to build trust between the council and the citizen of Libby. We have a council right now that has an agenda and I’m trying to get all personal agendas out of it. Some of the questions I’ve been asking people are if they are being heard? Have they been treated honestly and fair? Was there open mindness? Are their priorities being met?

2. Our water and sewer infrastructure will be an ongoing thing and it’s been neglected for 30 years. Seventy percent of our treated water is wasted, that’s how bad our system is here. That’s something we need to work on. We also have a new dam that we need to build and it’s going to be a two-year project. We need a lot of street work done and there are lighting issues we need to update. But what I’d really like to see are more tourists coming to Libby. I’d like to see small and bigger businesses move into Libby that would employ more people.

3. Our tax structure needs to be fine-tooth-combed. We need to put money in certain areas. We need a budget for the street department, for sidewalks, for water, because right now it’s all coming out of a general fund and nothing is being held in reserve. We need to learn how to budget better. The city council could also help the community better if they would just listen to the community. What we really need and what I stand for is change. That’s the most important thing, is change in our city government and awareness that we need to look toward to the future. We need to bring people back into our community.

NAME: Vicky Lawrence AGE: 64
OCCUPATION: Retired Piano Teacher
YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: 32

1. I love the City of Libby and its people. I want to continue building a future here for our children and grandchildren.

Our present council has faced many serious infrastructure issues. Our water distribution system is leaking 75 percent of all treated water. Our city is threatened by a deteriorating 1946 era city dam. Our streets are patched and potholed and many of our sidewalks need repair. Our sewer and water treatment plants need maintenance.

The public can trust my experience with large public works projects and my work ethic to help get Flower Creek Dam constructed and to continue other necessary infrastructure improvements.

I am a person who can get a job completed. I ask questions. I am not afraid to make difficult decisions. I conduct research for council to help with decision making. I have helped procure $167,000 in grant money for trees, playground equipment, streetlights, and park toilets.

2. Libby has lost its economic base. Once a proud timber-based town, Libby has suffered decades of high unemployment with the contraction of the logging industry, and unemployed families have been forced to move.

Our community suffered the closing of our lumber mill and then the national reputation as “A Town Left to Die.” These two blows have been very painful and have produced anger and discouragement in many residents.

Finding a new, positive identity and improving the economy are huge challenges. We have benefited from a growing retirement community, but we need a stronger economy for our working families to survive. I support Montanore Mine because it offers excellent employment opportunities.

We also risk destruction of our town through flooding. We must build a new dam and water rates must be raised to help fund this project. Though necessary, these rate increases are very burdensome for many residents.

3. Council should provide positive leadership that encourages investment in our town. Implicit in positive leadership is an attitude of cooperation among council members and with the public. For example, we have sponsored yearly meetings with local businesses to hear their concerns and to implement suggestions.

Building adequate infrastructure encourages future businesses and families to relocate to Libby and also offers economic opportunities for existing businesses. We have a $4 million water distribution project and a $160,000 CTEP sidewalk project currently under construction. We added $1 million in upgrades to our wastewater plant. A new 17-acre Riverfront park was partially completed in 2012. Replacement of our dam will begin in 2014.

If re-elected, I will continue to work for Libby’s future. A wise community invests in its future and that investment will produce a renewed sense of pride and inspiration for others to invest in us.

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