Montana’s filing period for the 2018 elections starts Thursday but it’s already clear that one familiar name in Butte-Silver Bow won’t be on the ballot this year.
District Court Judge Brad Newman has made it official and won’t be seeking another six-year term. He was first elected in 2006 and was retained with 87 percent of the vote in 2012.
“There have been some real joys in this job, but I’m getting older and it’s time to consider doing something different,” Newman said. “I’m looking forward to spending more time with my wife and granddaughter.”
Fellow District Judge Kurt Krueger, who has served on the bench in Butte since 2001, said he is seeking a fourth term this year, in part to continue work with the Family Drug Court he established in 2004 and to "keep providing access to the justice system." He was retained with 85 percent of the vote in 2012.
Longtime Butte attorney Brad Belke said Tuesday he would seek Newman's position, pledging to run "an efficient courtroom that treats every person with fairness and respect" if elected.
Seven of the 12 seats on Butte-Silver Bow’s Council of Commissioners are up and at least three incumbents — Cindi Shaw, Cindy Perdue-Dolan and Bill Andersen — will run for re-election. At least two, Sheryl Ralph in District 2 and Dan Foley in District 9, are not running again.
Ralph, who is serving in her second four-year term, said she plans to move to Arizona in the near future to be closer to her parents.
Foley said he has served District 9 for three terms, "and I simply believe it's time for someone with new ideas and energy to represent the district and community.''
Shaw has represented District 11 since first being elected in 2006 and is now seeking her fourth term. The initial filing period runs through March 12 but Shaw planned to file first thing in the morning Thursday.
“I want my constituents to know I’m there for them on day one,” she said. “My first responsibility is to my constituents. I get up every morning looking forward to helping people."
Other council seats up are District 7 currently represented by Bud Walker and District 5 held by Dan Olsen. Phone messages were left on their voice-mails seeking comment.
The council appointed Olsen as a commissioner to replace Dennis Henderson, who died last February just a few months after winning re-election in District 5. Because Olsen was appointed, he must win re-election this year to retain the seat and then run again in 2020 if he wants a full four-year term.
All 100 Montana House seats are on the ballot, as are 25 of the 50 state Senate seats. The two state senators from Butte — Democrats Jon Sesso and Edie McClafferty — won their current four-year terms in 2016 so they don’t have to run again this year.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, is seeking another six-year term this year. Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, now held by Republican Greg Gianforte, is also on the ballot.
Butte-Silver Bow’s biggest election years are held in presidential years, with the next one coming in 2020. That’s when numerous local offices will be on the ballot again, including those for chief executive, sheriff and county attorney.
The only local, county-wide office up is for a Justice of the Peace position now held by Debra Williams.
Newman will remain on the bench through the end of his term in December but is looking forward to “doing something a little different” after that.
Newman and his wife, Darla, moved to Butte by choice years ago to raise a family. Before becoming a judge, he was Butte-Silver Bow’s chief prosecutor for 18 years and was a state representative from 2001 to 2004.
“I have had a good run here and I’m convinced that judges are appointed by the electorate,” he said. “We are not anointed. There are a lot of capable attorneys out there who will make a fine judge. I will leave the office in good hands.”
Perdue-Dolan defeated incumbent Mark Moodry in District 1 to win election to the council in 2014. She “absolutely loves” serving, she said, but had to “stop and start” a lot because in the past few years she lost her mother, father and a brother.
Still, she said, “I just enjoy it and I learn something new every week. I enjoy talking with folks even when they don’t agree with me. I love when people are engaged.”
Andersen was first elected to the District 10 council seat in 2010 and won a second term unopposed in the general election in 2014.