Updated: Sept. 8, 11:45 a.m.
Opponents of longtime Libby Mayor Doug Roll are celebrating the news this week that the community’s highest-ranking elected official abruptly resigned after years of infighting on the city council.
One of Roll’s most vocal opponents, city councilor Allen Olsen, said the resignation on Wednesday offered the community a chance to move forward.
“This is the best thing that’s happened to Libby in 20 years,” Olsen said on Thursday.
Just 24 hours earlier, Roll surprised the council and residents when he announced he was resigning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 7 after eight years as mayor. The resignation came just days after a Lincoln County District Court judge dismissed a recall effort against Roll. In an interview with the Beacon shortly after his announcement, Roll said he didn’t see a way for him to work with the current council.
“These people don’t have a clue of how government works,” Roll told the Beacon. “This was a hard decision for me to make because I don’t like to quit things, but I just don’t see any hope for this council.”
Libby City Councilor Barb Desch also announced her resignation, citing a desire to travel more now that she is retired.
Tammy Brown, one of the organizers of this year’s recall effort, thanked Roll for stepping down and urged local residents to step up and take control of city government.
“I want to thank Mayor Roll for taking this course. He opened the door for the people of this city to make real and lasting change, now it’s up to us to do it,” she wrote. “As a community, we need to come together and work to make this city a place we can all be proud of.”
With Roll’s resignation, council president Brent Teske becomes acting mayor. Teske said the council is now accepting applications for mayor and anyone who wants to be considered should bring a letter of interest to Libby City Hall before Sept. 23. Soon after, the city council will hold a special meeting to select a new leader.
Teske told the Beacon on Thursday that he plans on submitting his name for consideration.
Roll’s resignation follows years of conflict on the Libby City Council, mostly between the mayor and Olsen. In 2013, Olsen ran against Roll for the city’s top spot but lost by 13 votes. A year later, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices alleged that Roll, former City Attorney James Reintsma and the Libby City Council possibly influenced the 2013 mayoral election when the city filed a lawsuit against Olsen alleging he was not a resident and thus could not run for mayor.
In 2015, Roll announced that he was running for city council as a “spoiler” in an effort to unseat Olsen and ensure that DC Orr and Arlen Magill, longtime critics of the mayor, would not gain a seat on the council.
The saga came to a head earlier this year when local resident Tammy Brown began collecting signatures to force a recall election against Roll. Brown and others alleged that Roll violated the Constitution and his oath of office when he unilaterally appointed a temporary city attorney earlier this year and refused to put an item on the meeting agenda. Roll challenged the recall in court and a Lincoln County District Court judge agreed last week that there was no reason for a recall.
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