Incumbents Re-Elected in Columbia Falls Council Election

Voter turnout one of the highest in recent years

By Dillon Tabish
Residents vote in Columbia Falls on Nov. 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Voters in Columbia Falls re-elected a pair of incumbent city councilors and also tabbed a newcomer.

Doug Karper and Darin Fisher both received nods for new four-year terms while John H. Piper was elected for the first time to the council.

Karper, a longtime councilor who first began serving in the early 1990s, received 334 votes on Nov. 3. Fisher was elected for a second term after receiving 330 votes. Piper received 304 votes.

Falling short in their election bids were Erick Robbins, who received 213 votes, Shawn Bates, who received 129 votes despite dropping out of the race, and Tyler Lee Furry, who received 98 votes.

Voter turnout was 20.82 percent, the highest in recent years.

“I think everyone who got elected will do a good job. The ones who didn’t get elected would have done a good job, too,” Karper said.

Karper said he hopes the election is a sign that the community is pleased with the current council.

This year’s election had a noticeable buzz among the candidates who praised the economic development that is gaining momentum in Columbia Falls.

Karper said the council should continue to help make the city a “business friendly” place where further development can flourish.

“As a council we need to do whatever we can within reason to help that continue going forward,” he said.

During the run-up to the election, Fisher a trails manager for the U.S. Forest Service and a budding business owner who is opening a new brewery on U.S. Highway 2 with his wife, Carla, said he hopes to help furnish Columbia Falls’ redevelopment efforts

Piper, a lifelong resident of Columbia Falls and supervisor at the Montana Veterans Home, will be formally sworn into the council in January, joining eight other members, including the mayor.

Leading up to the election, he said it is important to keep the city’s historic industries intact and to maintain affordable housing. Revitalizing downtown is also important, he said, along with cleaning up the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site.