The 2016 Montana primary election is peaking and all campaigns are or should be in full swing. The absentee ballots in Yellowstone County will be going out in the mail on Friday May 13th. Bret Rutherford, Yellowstone County Election Administrator, stated on Tuesday that they receive back about 1/3 of the absentee ballots within 7-10 days. Rutherford also stated that about 80%-90% of ballots cast will be absentee in Yellowstone County.
As Yellowstone County residents usually have a pretty high turnout for presidential election years, this year will mark yet another reason to fill out the ballots as the primary election will basically decide some races as there is no general election opponent. Montana is looking to be an important primary election this year as the republican presidential election on June 7 could decide the GOP nominee in favor of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is currently at 991 delegates and needs to reach 1,237 in order to clinch the Republican nomination. In June’s primary, Montana has 27 delegates to offer in favor of or against Donal Trump in his quest to clinch the Republican nomination before the convention in July.
Locally, there are primary races that will decide the winner. For example, incumbent Jim Reno and Denis Pitman are vying for the Yellowstone County Commissioner’s seat. In the Clerk of District Court position, there are three running for that seat; incumbent Kristie Lee Boelter, Terry Halpin and Richard William Nixon. As for District 2 of the Public Service Commission, Incumbent Kirk Bushman is running against Tony O’Donnell. All three races will decide the winner as there is no general election Democrat opponent.
With that being said, the Yellowstone County News’s special edition of the local races and candidate responses were released today and will be in the subscriber’s mailboxes on Friday. There are 61 locations in Yellowstone County that readers can pick up the local weekly paper with the candidate’s responses to YCN’s questions.
All ballots are due in the Yellowstone County Elections Department on or by Election Day which is Tuesday June 7th. We asked the candidates to answer the following questionnaire regarding local hot topic issues and help us, the readers, decide in voting. You can read their responses in the special issue on news stands starting Thursday April 28. Some candidates decided to be short and others decided to add detail. We hope the special edition gives some insight into the candidates.
Here are the questions posed to the candidates.
#1. Please introduce yourself to our readers and why you have chosen to run for office. Please include anything that you have accomplished in the past to help the readers see what you can do for the taxpayers in the future.
#2 The Billings Bypass Interchange, which will connect the Billings Heights to Lockwood from Mary’s Street to Coulson Road at Johnson Lane, has been talked about for many years. The final EIS (Environmental Impact Study) has been approved by the Federal Government but complete funding has not yet been secured. Stephen Streeter, District Administrator of the MDOT in Billings, has said in the past that this project could be completed as early as 2020. Even though this is a federal project going through the MDOT, will you support this project to its completion as an elected official, and if so, how?
#3 With the overcrowding of students at the 3 Billings’ High Schools and Lockwood students now having to go to Skyview instead of Senior and West after many years (due to the recent redistricting process of Billings School District 2); do you believe Lockwood students and residents should expand their K-8 school district into a K-12 or encourage Billings School District 2 to build a new high school in Lockwood?
#4. What are you passionate about and what motivates you as an individual?
#5. How are you different from your opponent or opponents in this primary election?
You can read all the candidate responses, including State Senate and House District races, in the print edition of Yellowstone County News today, your Weekly News with Local Views source.