A 31-year-old real estate agent was appointed to the Libby City Council on Jan. 28 to replace Robin Benson, who was elected as Lincoln County clerk and recorder last year.
Dejon Raines, a 2001 Libby High School graduate, is considerably younger than the rest of the seven-person council and she said she hopes to bring fresh ideas to city government. She was one of four people who applied to replace Benson when she stepped down from the council earlier this year.
“I think I have a young and fresh perspective and I want to bring new ideas to the city council,” she said. “This town has so much potential that hasn’t even been realized yet.”
Raines attended Montana Tech in Butte and graduated with a degree in general science and minors in mathematics and biology. Although she considered attending graduate school, she wanted to come home to Lincoln County and moved back to Libby in 2005. She began working for her dad, who is also a real estate agent, and eventually became a broker.
In 2011, Raines ran unsuccessfully for the Libby City Council, but the defeat did not deter her from public service and she has been involved with various volunteer projects in the community.
When Benson stepped down from her city council seat, Raines and three others sought the council’s appointment. On Jan. 28, the council interviewed the four candidates and after they selected Raines in a 3-to-1 vote; Allen Olsen voted against Raines and Brent Teske was absent.
Mayor Doug Roll did not get to vote for the appointment but said he was excited to have Raines on board.
“We’re all getting up there in age, myself included, and so it’s good to have a young person involved,” Roll said.
Raines will hold the seat until November when she will have to run for reelection. Until then, Raines wants to do what she can to promote Libby and said that good things are happening there. Most notably, she said the news from the Environmental Protection Agency that the asbestos cleanup is working shows that “the end is in sight” for that infamous chapter in the town’s history. Raines was in high school when news of the asbestos contamination first broke.
Libby’s newest city councilor also hopes to attract smaller businesses to Lincoln County and create a more durable and diverse economy. She said that while mining and timber projects would help the local economy, the city couldn’t rely on those industries alone.
“I believe those are a part of the solution, but I don’t think we should put all of our eggs into one basket,” she said.