Sheriff Candidates Face off at Community Forum

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon also featured county commission, justice of the peace candidates

By Justin Franz
Jordan White, Keith Stahlberg, Brian Heino and Calvin Berigner appear at a candidate forum in Kalispell. Candidates for sheriff, justice of the peace and county commission all spoke during a Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon on April 17, 2017. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

At an April 17 candidate forum and luncheon hosted by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, the four men hoping to be Flathead County’s next top lawman stated their case to replace outgoing Sheriff Chuck Curry.

All four candidates — Calvin Beringer, Brian Heino, Keith Stahlberg and Jordan White — are Republicans, meaning the sheriff’s race will be decided during the June 5 primary. The forum also featured the five candidates running for county commission and the two running for justice of the peace.

Beringer has worked for both the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and King County Sheriff’s Office in Seattle. Heino is currently a patrol commander for the sheriff’s office and search and rescue team coordinator. Stahlberg is currently a sergeant with the sheriff’s office and previously worked with the Columbia Falls Police Department. White was previously Flathead County undersheriff and co-founded Two Bear Air.

During the forum, the candidates took a few minutes to make their pitch to the room of luncheon attendees. They gave a quick rundown of their credentials before discussing what they would do if elected to replace Curry, who announced earlier this year he was not going to seek another term.

Each candidate talked about the importance of working with the community, especially schools. Beringer proposed creating a citizens advisory board to give the community a voice in how the valley is policed. Henio and Stahlberg both said they would try to get more police officers into the local school systems.

All four candidates also discussed the impacts of drug use on the valley in recent years and said they were open to any option, including the establishment of a drug court, to help battle an issue that led to an increase in property crime and addiction. Stahlberg said he would open the local jail to recovered drug addicts so they could share their stories and experiences with inmates in hopes of helping those struggling with addiction.

“We need to do anything we think might help,” Stahlberg said.

White said the valley’s drug problem can’t be solved by law enforcement alone and that it will take the entire community.

“We can do amazing things when we harness the compassion of this community,” he said.