News & Features

Three Candidates Seek Troy Mayor Position

Four Libby residents running for city council positions

Election Day is Nov. 7, and the cities of Troy, Eureka and Rexford are holding mail-ballot elections. Libby will hold a poll election.

The Beacon is publishing its last series of questionnaires with candidates for municipal elections across Northwest Montana this fall. Last week the Beacon featured the Columbia Falls council and mayor candidates and the previous week showcased Kalispell’s council candidates.

Several races are uncontested in Lincoln County this fall. In Eureka, incumbent mayor LeeAnnSchermerhorn ran unopposed for another four-year term. One person ran for an open seat on Eureka’s four-member council, Breean C. Reyes. In Rexford, no one ran for the mayor position, and the council will have to appoint a person to the role. In Troy, one person, Shawna Kelsey, filed for one of the two city council positions that are open. The council will have to appoint a person to the other seat.

In Libby, incumbent mayor Brent Teske is running unopposed for another four-year term.

There are only two contested races in Lincoln County. Four people are running for three open seats on the Libby City Council: Gary Armstrong, Gary Beach, Arlen Magill and Kristin Smith. The top three vote getters will be elected.

In Troy, three people are running for the Troy mayor position: Dallas Carr, Charles Ekstedt and Chris Penner. The incumbent mayor, Darren Coldwell, is not running for re-election.

Penner and Beach did not return their questionnaires.

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Candidate Questions 

1. Why are you running and what makes you a strong candidate?

2. Do you support the proposed Rock Creek and Montanore mine projects? If not, why? If so, why? And are you concerned about negative impacts to the environmental from the potential developments?

3. What are the most pressing issues in your opinion that are facing the city and how would you address them?

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Troy mayor candidates Dallas Carr, left, and Charles Ekstedt. Courtesy Photos

Troy Mayor Election

NAME: Dallas Carr

OCCUPATION: Retired

YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: Lifelong native

1. I’m running for mayor to keep going on the progress we on the council and the mayor have experienced the last four years. I want the town to keep improving and making it a place we can all be proud of.

I’m fourth generation here in Troy, and my dad would say when asked how long have you lived in Troy, his response always was, “When they first started digging the Kootenai.” I’ve seen my town and area experience good times and some bad. I want to see Troy prosper and yet keep that small-town atmosphere we all enjoy and long for.

2. Yes I do support the Rock Creek and Montanore Mine proposals. I worked as an underground shift foreman for many years at the Asarco Mine when it was in operation. I, being raised in the Troy area all my life and working at Asarco, would not want to see environmental damage to our area. And that being said, have never seen or experienced anything but constant concern for our area by Asarco. It provided many, many jobs for our community. It gave us a strong tax base we could always count on also. It also kept our youth at home by supplying jobs if they chose to have one and I got to enjoy my granddaughters.

3. Money is tight and if you listened above, you would have seen why industry, tourism, or what ever we can bring in, in the way of jobs, would be such a strong positive for our town. I also would like to keep going on our beautification progress of the town. If we want to grow, not by just jobs or opportunities, we also as citizens need to take seriously our own responsibility’s and do our part to help reach this goal. It takes all of us plain and simple. Logging and mining at this point are still an ongoing struggle to bring back. We have to think out of the box and do what we can to keep our little town something we can maintain and be proud of.

NAME: Charles (Chuck) Ekstedt Jr.

OCCUPATION: I work as a timber faller and a hazard tree specialist

YEARS LIVING IN TROY: I have lived in Lincoln County for 38 years and in the Troy city limits for about 20 years

1. When the position came available, I had some members of the community mention to me that they thought I would be a good candidate. I thought, well I love this town and I have an interest in seeing it grow and expand to its fullest potential so I thought, why not run.

I would like to see everyone work together to make Troy a more beautiful, safe, and productive place to live and work. I believe I am fair-minded, honest, and able to get along with others enough to bring everyone together in order to achieve common goals for Troy.

2. I fully support both projects. I believe the projects will bring much needed employment to the local communities. The increase of employment will bring more money into the community, which in turn will make the businesses more productive. The mine will help not only those employed but also those who own businesses in the local communities.

3. Thanks to Darren Caldwell, the city is currently running smooth. I don’t believe there is one single important issue needing addressed, but rather a series of smaller issues. Once in office, I plan on talking with the council and the community to see what they think needs addressed and address those issues according to priority. I would like to continue with the agenda Darren has put in place.

From left” Libby city council candidates Gary Armstrong, Kristin Smith and Arlen Magill. Courtesy Photo

Libby City Council Election

Candidate Questions

1. Why are you running and what makes you a strong candidate?

2. Following the environmental cleanup in Libby, what steps should the city take to try and help spur economic vibrancy?

3. What are the most pressing issues in your opinion that are facing the city and how would you address them?

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NAME: Gary Armstrong

OCCUPATION: Retired

YEARS LIVING IN YOUR CITY: One, although my wife is a returning Libby native

1. I am running to keep the city council seat I was appointed to last April because I am thrilled to be able to do actual good for my fellow citizens and neighbors. Before this point in my life, I was sequestered in a shop, day after day, with little human contact. I lived and worked exclusively with the many tools of my various trades. I feel that my blue-collar background is well suited to the Libby community, and the fact I have a paralegal degree and experience in a Washington State Superior Court Clerk’s office gives me a leg up in understanding and becoming familiar with the rules and regulations the council deals with daily, and the other sometimes obscure legal issues that inevitably show up. I also feel I’m a strong candidate because I am retired, and I’m also one of those people that doesn’t take kindly to inactivity. I also know that I have proven to the rest of the councilors and administration my total commitment to this position, and I know their desire that I am elected.

2. Libby has been taking steps to spur economic recovery for a number of years already, now known as The Special Events town. In the last year Libby hosted Scenic Tour Of Kootenai River (STOKR) 3-day bicycle tour, two-day Riverfront Blues Festival, 2-day Professional Rodeo, Ignite The Nights 3-day car show, cruise and burnout contest, 3-day Professional Chainsaw Carving Competition. Libby is a vibrant, friendly active town that has had to learn to fend for itself, through the boom and bust of gold, silver, lumber, the criminal W.R. Grace Co., the construction of Libby Dam, and finally the transfer of the Stimson Lumber property to the County and the creation of the Economic Development Council. There has also been a recently completed $2 million rebuilt spur off the BNSF tracks into the old mill site property, and one industrial resident is already using the spur to ship out product. This old mill site consists of 400 acres, about the same footprint as the city itself.

3. The most pressing issues facing Libby today have to do with aging and poorly built infrastructure, especially water/sewer and streets. I believe we can address these issues successfully by way of the additive talents of the six city councilors, administration and maintenance crew, and some forbearance on the part of the residents. Our city council and administration is heavy with engineering talent, and we are finding many areas where we can utilize new construction technologies capable of saving real money, while at the same time being able to map-out the existing challenged sewer system. The city has not expanded and grown in a very orderly manner, and the current government is constantly making repairs that are the result of bad decisions and poor workmanship from decades past. Beyond that, our next-most pressing issues revolve around economic development and business development.

NAME: Kristin Smith

OCCUPATION: Co-Owner, Cabinet Mountain Brewing Co.

YEARS LIVING IN LIBBY: 8.5 years

1. Appointed in September 2016, I am running for the opportunity to continue to work with the current council to work collaboratively to meet the citizens’ needs. Together, we represent different aspects of our community and yet, have restored civility and credibility to the body after several years of turmoil. The current council is engaged and respectful and deliberates thoughtfully in a transparent manner.  None of us are interested in tearing anybody down or creating controversy where none exists. As a downtown business owner I have heavily invested in the future of Libby, because I believe it will be prosperous; and more and more people and businesses believe that too. In the last year, the city has issued nearly 54 new business licenses — an indication of renewed optimism. I am a strong candidate because I have both public and private sector experience giving me a holistic approach to problem-solving. In addition, I have worked hard to understand and incorporate different perspectives into policy proposals.

2. The city began anticipating EPA’s departure several years ago and has already taken several steps to position our community in such a way to spur new economic activity and cultivate a renewed sense of pride and optimism. The community has worked to create a new brand and the reinvigorated Chamber of Commerce has launched a new website touting the area’s assets. The city is a critical partner in achieving our shared goals.

Earlier this year, the city created guidelines to help improve its decision-making about spending funds earmarked for community development. As a result, the city has committed to partnering with other entities on projects like wayfinding signs, trail development and infrastructure improvement. As a community we have to put our best self out front for the world to see. There is a great deal of competition in the economic development arena, and in order for us to be visible among the crowd we have to be true to ourselves. Investing in community by enhancing our streetscapes downtown, and enforcing quality of life ordinances like junk vehicles is for the people that already call Libby home. The more we can do to improve our image for each other the more attractive we are to potential visitors and entrepreneurs.

3. The issues facing Libby are not dissimilar to issues facing other small communities in the west. Working to find our place in a shifting economy and promote our own unique and special qualities. The city would be well-served by electing the current council members to continue to restore credibility to the body. In addition, we must continue fostering positive, productive relationships with the business community, including Chamber of Commerce, and economic development agencies. The city, like many governments with limited resource, cannot be the sole financier of initiatives, but it can work closely, as it has, with other agencies laying the groundwork to help improve the lives of its citizens.

NAME: Arlen Magill

OCCUPATION: I work for The Libby Senior Center

YEARS LIVING IN LIBBY: Over 10 years

1. I wish to serve the city I love, the city I met my wife in, the city both our two children were born. I have attended more city council meeting than all my fellow candidates have combined.

2. To work with our Port Authority to attract new businesses. To work with our chamber of commerce to help our existing local businesses, including lobbying in support of natural resource projects that include mining and sustainable logging of our national forests.

3. Embracing change and adjusting to a different or lower tax base. Libby unfortunately doesn’t have the funding to complete all the projects that the city needs to complete. I feel very strongly that residents working with a transparent council is a great start in solving these issues. We all are in this for the long haul and simply raising taxes isn’t the solution. We have to do better with the revenue we already have before we blindly demand more.