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Mail-in ballot election ends Tuesday

by Western News
| October 29, 2009 12:00 AM

Municipal elections in Libby and Troy will wrap up this coming Tuesday when mail-in ballots are due to the Election Department at the Lincoln County Courthouse.

Ballots were mailed out to registered voters earlier this month and can either be returned by mail or dropped off at the courthouse. All ballots are due by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Doug Roll and Peggy Williams are competing for the Libby mayor position. Roll has been serving as the appointed mayor since late last year when Tony Berget transitioned into his elected position as a Lincoln County commissioner. Roll had served on the council for five years prior to the appointment. Williams has served on the council since 2007 and is attempting to become the city’s first-ever female mayor.

Six candidates are vying for three vacant full-term seats on the Libby City Council – Robin Benson, Lee Bothman, Ron Carter, Barbara Desch, Vicky Lawrence and Walter McElmurry. Bothman and McElmurry are incumbents trying to keep their seats. McElmurry has served on the council since 2003, Bothman since 2004. Carter was appointed to the council on March 26 to finish out the term of the resigned Charlene Leckrone.

Benson is a county employee who has a background in grant writing. Desch owns a bookkeeping business and has served on two city boards. Lawrence is involved with the Libby Tree Board and several other organizations.

Three more candidates are competing to fill the seat of Leckrone’s unexpired term – Charles Berget, D.C. Orr and write-in candidate Michael Shock. Orr was appointed to the council in December 2008 to take the place of Roll, who had been appointed mayor. Berget, son of former mayor and county commissioner Tony Berget, has the distinction of being the youngest candidate at age 18. Shock, a local general contractor, is not on the ballot but registered as a write-in candidate.

In Troy, Don Banning and Edward Hanson are hoping to win the title of mayor. Current mayor James Hammons chose to not seek re-election. Banning ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005, served on the council from 2000-06, and was elected again in 2007. Hanson is a former Troy School Board member and is on the city’s police commission.

Two positions are up for election on the Troy City Council and two candidates are on the ballot – Phillip Fisher and Frances McCully. Current council members Laura Schrader and Larry Baker are not seeking re-election.

All Lincoln County voters will weigh in on the issue of whether or not to allow non-partisan ballots. At stake is the practice of identifying candidates with their political party. On the special election ballot, voting “for adoption” is in favor of non-partisan ballots while voting “for retaining” is in favor of identifying political parties on ballot.

The ballot issue surfaced last year when all six commissioner candidates running in a county’s primary election were Republican. As a result, voters registered as Democrat could not vote for commissioners and had no say in the decision.

Critics of non-partisan ballots believe that identifying political parties is an important guideline for voters – especially when it involves candidates that may be an unknown.