News & Features

Crowded Flathead County Sheriff Race Emerges a Year Ahead of Election

Three candidates announce plans to run as incumbent remains undecided

Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry says he has not decided whether he will run for re-election in 2018, but regardless of what he does, the race for the county’s top lawman is shaping up to be a crowded one.

On Nov. 13, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Commander Brian Heino became the third person to announce his intention to run for sheriff next year. Heino, a Kalispell native, has been with the sheriff’s office for 15 years. He previously worked in law enforcement in Wyoming. In the Flathead, he has been involved with the SWAT team and the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force.

If elected, Heino says he would work to modernize the sheriff’s department to deal with online threats and crimes and increase its community outreach.

“I’m running because I want to give back to this department,” he said.

Two other men have also thrown their hat into the race in recent months: Calvin Beringer and Keith Stahlberg. Beringer has worked for the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington. He also spent time managing the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services under late Sheriff Jim Dupont. Beringer has said he wants to focus on the valley’s growing opioid and substance-abuse problems, support the construction of a larger jail and increase training throughout the department.

Stahlberg has worked for the Columbia Falls Police Department and the sheriff’s office, where is currently a sergeant. Stahlberg said he hopes to help the county increase its radio coverage, noting that at times officers’ radios don’t work, and supports the establishment of a drug court.

Curry says he will make a decision on running for re-election in the coming weeks or months. He has worked for the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office since 1980 and was undersheriff under Dupont for 15 years. Curry was first elected sheriff in 2010.

Candidates can officially file for the sheriff’s race in January. The election will be held in November 2018.