Kalispell to Pick New Councilor Among 11 Candidates

Mayor asks prospective councilors to speak at Monday's council meeting before possible decision

By Dillon Tabish
Pedestrians walk past Kalispell City Hall. Beacon File Photo

Eleven candidates have emerged for Kalispell’s vacant city council seat and a replacement could be found at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Mark Johnson is asking each candidate to speak to their letters of interest at the Aug. 4 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

“I, along with many on the council, think it is important to hear from each person,” Johnson told the Beacon.

Randy Kenyon retired from the city council earlier this month after 14 years, vacating his Ward 3 seat that remains open through Dec. 31, 2015. The deadline to apply was July 25.

The eight remaining members of city council will decide who wins the vacant seat by majority vote, per state law.

Kalispell had a similar situation in 2007 when Bob Herron vacated his Ward 2 seat and Wayne Saverud was tabbed as a replacement. Five candidates applied for the position that year.

This year’s sudden vacancy drew high interest among prospective councilors. Each candidate submitted letters of interest to the city clerk. Here are brief bios of each candidate excerpted from their respective letters:

Steve Burglund arrived in Kalispell 37 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He worked as a UPS driver before founding Great Bear Builders, which he has owned for nearly 30 years.

“As  a builder, I understand impact fees, the necessity for codes, the need for safe and affordable homes, growth plans and annexation and zoning issues,” he wrote.

James Cossitt is an attorney working in downtown and a resident of Kalispell since 1998. He served as a member of the city’s Impact Fee Advisory Committee from 2006-10 and from 2014-present.

“I would like to continue serving Kalispell to improve the quality of life for all citizens, and, as consistently demonstrated in past participation, am committed to open, transparent, thoughtful discussion and informed decision making of all maters that come before the council,” he wrote.

John Hinchey is a retired former aerospace engineer who has lived in Ward 3 for 16 years. He served 10 years as a board member and chairman of the Kalispell Planning Board, and served 10 years as a board member and treasurer on the Museum at Central School board. He also served nearly 10 years on the Kalispell Parking Commission and is presently serving as vice chair of the Kalispell Architectural Review Committee and Kalispell Downtown Improvement District.

He said he would be honored to serve on the council but would not be able to attend meetings until September because of prior family commitments.

Richard Hull was born and raised in Whitefish and worked as a local reporter and photographer for 25 years. He has been a commercial real estate appraiser since 2006. He has been a Kalispell homeowner since 1977. He served as a member of the Kalispell Planning Board and ran for city council in 2007.

“I have no overriding political idealogy. I believe in affordable government, cooperation between local governments, and the importance of consistency and fairness,” he wrote. “Most importantly, I have repeatedly seen how one or two individuals and simple actions can make a huge difference. One example that continues to impress me was the successful revival of the Kalispell bypass after decades of fruitless talk.”

Lance Isaak has lived at his current residence in Ward 3 since 2002 and been active in the community through his work as director of the Flathead Youth Home since 2004. He has also served as treasurer and volunteer of the Daybreak Rotary since 2008, graduated from Leadership Flathead and remained active with the Kalispell Street Tree Commission since 2013.

“As a citizen, I am fully invested int he well being of our community and would appreciate this opportunity to serve the City of Kalispell in making decisions which will affect our community’s future,” he wrote.

Rod Kuntz grew up in Hardin and has lived in Kalispell since 1986. He has managed both wholesale and retail businesses and worked as a substitute teacher for three years. He served in the Montana and Hawaii National Guard.

He said he has the ability to listen to people, assess situations and analyze problems before developing solutions. He also said he understands the necessity and benefit of government, “but am very mindful of its potential to overreach.”

“As a council member, I would aspire to serve the people within the established framework, and approach the business of government as just that, a business,” he wrote.

Mary Kay Myett has lived in Montana for 37 years and in Kalispell for 31 years. She has worked as a real estate broker for 28 years, with 10 of those serving as a broker-owner of a local office.

“I am interested in serving because of my concern regarding the health and well being of Kalispell and its citizens,” she wrote. “In my work, I am keenly aware of the fast rate of growth of the area, and the needs and issues that this engenders.”

Bill Nelson has lived at his home in Ward 3 for 30 years. He has worked as a trail crew leader in Glacier National Park and spent 18 years working at Big Mountain Ski Resort in various positions, including human resource manager and mountain manager. He has worked at Flathead Job Service for 10 years, including seven as manager.

“I am interested in strengthening the downtown area and working with the various planning groups in making our downtown more conducive to pedestrian use and business development,” he wrote.

Karlene Ann Osorio-Khor has lived in Ward 3 since 1986. She graduated from Flathead High School and has served on several community boards and organizations, including the Kalispell Impact Fee Advisory Committee and the Kalispell Planning Board. She ran for city council last November. She manages a company on Main Street.

“I am committed to our city and to the ward in which I have lived for so many decades,” she wrote. “I also believe in balance, diversity, transparency and accountability. I note the inclusion of a downtown small businesswoman’s perspective to the City Council certainly speaks to diversity and my campaign results illustrate the Ward 3 support I enjoy.”

Marc Rold has lived in Ward 3 for 23 years and has maintained an active role in Kalispell business and community promotion. He currently serves on the Urban Renewal Agency and “numerous leadership roles in various local organizations make me uniquely qualified to serve on City Council.”

Jonathan Smith has lived in Ward 3 for over 20 years. He worked with several government boards during his service with the county attorney’s office and also served on private boards over the years.

“Now that I am retired from full-time employment, I feel I have the time and expertise to serve ably on the City Council,” he wrote.

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