There’s a new sheriff in town.
Brian Heino will become the next Flathead County Sheriff after a decisive win in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Heino bested three other candidates and secured 48 percent of the vote.
The morning after the election, Heino said he was touched by the support he received from the community. Heino’s three Republican opponents all received less than 20 percent of the vote; Calvin Beringer took 16 percent of the vote, Keith Stahlberg won 17 percent and Jordan White took home 18 percent.
Because there is no Democratic opponent in November, Heino will be sworn in as sheriff in January, replacing long-time lawman Chuck Curry, who decided not to seek another term.
“I’m truly humbled,” Heino said. “We had four really good candidates for sheriff in this race.”
Heino is a Flathead native and has a degree in criminal justice. He spent three years as a police officer in Wyoming before returning to the Flathead Valley to work at the sheriff’s office for the last 15 years. Heino is currently a patrol commander, but in the past he has served as SWAT Team leader, Search and Rescue coordinator, a member of the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force, and a tactical flight officer with Two Bear Air.
Heino said he plans on spending quality time with his family over the next few weeks after a long and busy campaign. However, he is already looking at how he will form his administration and said key positions, including undersheriff and command positions, will be decided in the coming months.
Although his race is over, Heino said he will continue to learn about the issues that are important to local residents. He added that he already has a list of things he would like to address when he takes office, including improving the sheriff’s office public outreach. Heino said he would also like to take steps toward expanding the number of deputies in the department.
“As the county continues to grow, we’re going to need more people to maintain the high level of service the community expects from us,” Heino said.
Elsewhere in Northwest Montana, incumbent Lake County Sheriff Don Bell fended off a challenge by a former California law enforcement officer, David Coffman. In Lincoln County, incumbent Sheriff Roby Bowe lost to Libby police officer Darren Short, who took a staggering 78 percent of the vote.