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Heinert tapped by GOP for House race

| August 11, 2004 12:00 AM

Ralph Heinert has been chosen by the local Republican Party central committee to replace Brent McCollum as the party¹s candidate for state House District 1 in the November election.

McCollum recently withdrew from the election after accepting a job in Oregon. Heinert will take McCollum¹s place on the ballot against incumbent Democrat Eileen Carney and Constitution Party candidate Russell Brown.

Heinert holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and came to Montana in 1968 to work for Anaconda Forest Products in Bonner. He started out as plant engineer with environmental responsibilities for the firm¹s Montana operations and later became central facilities manager.

Anaconda Forest Products was bought by Champion International, and Heinert was later promoted to environmental manager for Champion¹s western operations, working in Eugene, Ore. He transferred to Libby in 1986 after Champion bought St. Regis Paper Co.

When Champion sold its Libby mill to Stimson in 1993, Heinert transferred to Champion¹s corporate environmental division and remained in Libby with responsibilities for environmental cleanup operations for Libby and other sites around the country. He retired in 2000 when Champion sold to International Paper, rather than accept a transfer to Memphis, Tenn.

Heinert served on the school board in Bonner and is a past member of the Lions Club, the Elks Lodge and the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He helped organize the Libby Area Development Co. and served as the organization¹s first president.

Heinert and his wife, Rita, have three sons. Curt is manager of Montana Canvas in Belgrade, Shawn works for the Forest Service in Lincoln, and Trevor serves as an officer on a Navy submarine.

Heinert said his basic values are ³God, family and country, in that order.² He said he considers himself a conservative and has previously considered running for office.

³I do feel that it is not only a privilege but a responsibility similar to voting,² he said.

Heinert said he considers himself an environmentalist, although not in conventional sense of the term, and believes in protecting wildlife and water quality while utilizing natural resources.

³They are renewable resources, and they can be utilized if utilized and managed properly,² he said.

Heinert said he believes in a strong school system and thinks that changes need to be made in the way schools are financed in Montana. He said he works well in group settings.

³I do get impatient and opinionated and expressive, but I¹m willing to compromise to work toward a result,² he said.