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Libby City Council swears in new member

by Canda Harbaugh & Western News
| March 31, 2009 12:00 AM

Libby City Council voted and swore in its newest councilmember, Ron Carter, during a brief special meeting Thursday evening.

An independent construction contractor, Carter has an interest in what he views as one of the city’s bigger challenges – its aged water and sewer system.

“I want to learn as much as I can about the city infrastructure and what we need to address here in the future because I’m a contractor and that’s up my alley,” Carter said during an interview. “Apparently, we’ve got some major issues coming up to meet us so I want to be involved in that part of it.”

Though Carter is a native, he spent some time away before returning to Libby nine years ago.

“I was gone for a long time,” Carter said, “living and working in different parts of the country, which is good because that gives you a perspective.”

Carter earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and served two years on a city council in Ward, Colo., a town of a couple hundred people outside Boulder. Though the council governed a much smaller population than Libby and an equally smaller budget, Carter points out that it dealt with the same obstacles as any town.

“You’d be surprised at how closely small towns and medium-sized towns and big towns all have the same issues,” Carter said. “It’s all water, sewer, dogs – you know, unhappy neighbors.”

Carter applied to fill a council vacancy a few years ago and again last December when former councilmember Doug Roll became mayor. Carter’s interest in the position grew through his interest in biomass energy and in the Libby Lofts project, which is transforming the old high school into business offices and condos.  

“Through those two things I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in the community because I had to,” Carter said. “I had to present myself and pitch these two.”

Carter, who is a Heritage Museum volunteer, is a strong advocate for volunteer organizations and believes that they are what make towns like Libby unique and enjoyable.

“It’s volunteerism that makes everything work,” Carter said. “All these church groups and organizations – the Heritage Museum, (Kootenai) Pets for Life – all these local outfits is what makes small towns really worth it.”

William Cunnane, Rob Dufficy and Scott Evey also competed to fill the vacancy, which was created when councilmember Charlene Leckrone retired.

Councilmember Bill Bischoff made a motion Thursday to appoint Cunnane to the post but it wasn’t seconded. Councilmember Lee Bothman then made a motion for Carter, councilmember D.C. Orr seconded it and the council voted Carter in unanimously.

Carter was not immediately assigned to any committees, but will most likely take over some of Leckrone’s duties, Roll said.

After the vote Dufficy volunteered to be on the police committee along with Cunnane, who had already put in an application for the position. The committee is being revived after being dormant for a few years, Roll said.