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At least four people are seeking to replace Brad Newman as a district court judge in Butte, and four incumbent lawmakers from southwest Montana have filed for re-election to the state House.

Butte attorneys Brad Belke, Tim Dick, Wayne Harper, and Robert J. Whalen all filed Thursday for the bench seat Newman is leaving at the end of this year after two six-year terms.

Also Thursday, the first day to file for the 2018 elections in Montana, Democratic state Reps. Ryan Lynch and Jim Keane of Butte made re-election bids official, as did Republican Reps. Ray Shaw of Sheridan in House District 71 and Tom Welch of Dillon in District 72.

None of those lawmakers face immediate challengers, but candidates have until March 12 to file.

Newman is not seeking a third term as district judge in Butte, but fellow Judge Kurt Krueger said this week he will seek a fourth term. He has served on the bench in Butte since 2001.

Dick has been in private practice for 19 years in civil litigation and criminal law, and through the Family Drug Court, he has worked in matters involving children needing care.

“Cases where we’re helping kids who are victims of abuse or neglect because of drugs is the fastest growing area of concern for the District Court,” Dick said in a news release.

Belke announced his bid earlier this week, promising to run “an efficient courtroom that treats every person with fairness and respect.”

In Butte-Silver Bow, County Coroner Lee LaBreche filed for the justice of the peace position held by Deb Williams. That is the only county-wide post on the ballot in Butte this year. The next elections for sheriff, chief executive, county attorney, and other posts are in 2020.

There are seven of 12 Butte-Silver Bow council seats on the ballot, and on Thursday, incumbent commissioners Cindi Shaw in District 11 and Dan Olsen in District 5 filed.

Josh O’Neill filed for the District 7 seat held by Bud Walker, while Michael “Rocko” Mulcahy, who has been a commissioner before, filed for District 2.

The incumbent in that district, Sheryl Ralph, is not running again.

In other area legislative districts, Democrat Derek Harvey of Butte is seeking the District 74 seat now held by Democrat Amanda Curtis of Butte. Republican Gregg Trude of Clancy is running in District 75 now represented by Republican Kirk Wagoner of Montana City.

Democrat Mark Sweeney of Philipsburg is seeking the District 77 seat held by Democrat Kathy Swanson of Anaconda. She was first elected in 2010 and cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Judge Luke Berger is running to retain his seat the Fifth Judicial District.

In January of 2017, Berger was appointed by the governor and confirmed unanimously by the Montana Senate to fill the remaining two years of Judge Loren Tucker’s term. He will stand for election on November 6, 2018.

“It has been an honor to work in Beaverhead, Jefferson, and Madison counties this past year, the dedication of the staff, jurors, and attorneys is inspiring" Berger said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to working with all involved in the court system to continue to provide access to justice and be part of an efficient court system in our communities.”

Berger, a Dillon native, is a graduate of Beaverhead County High School, Carroll College, and the University of Montana School of Law. He and his wife Alexis Sandru, a Twin Bridges native, live in the heart of the district near Silver Star with their three young children.


Government and politics reporter

Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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