Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy has been the county’s top law enforcement officer for the last 28 years.
He’s ready for a change, but needs a judge’s help for a shot at the new job he has in mind.
In court documents filed Nov. 7 in district court, Brophy announced he intends to retire from law enforcement when his current term expires in 2018 and run for county commissioner in District 3 in the 2018 June primary election.
That district is currently represented by Commissioner Maureen Davey, who this week announced she will not be seeking re-election to the position.
The glitch is that Brophy, who recently moved to Park City, will not have lived in District 3 for the two years immediately preceding the general election, as is required by state law.
So Brophy is asking a judge to declare the 2-year district residential requirement for county commission candidates unconstitutional and to issue an injunction to allow him to seek election, according to the suit filed Tuesday in the 22nd Judicial District Court by Red Lodge attorney Ray Kuntz.
In a nutshell, Kuntz points to the “much less restrictive durational residency requirements for state legislators,” which is one year, and just six months prior to the general election if the county contains two or more districts, according to the suit.
City council candidates are subject to a 60-day duration residential requirement, according to the suit.
“The two year durational residency requirement for county commissioner is disproportionate from the six month requirement for state legislators and the 60 day requirement for city council members. It treats candidates for county commissioner so differently from other legislative candidates that it is unconstitutional on its face,” Kuntz wrote in the suit.
Kuntz also noted in the suit that Brophy has worked for the sheriff’s office for a total of 37 years, having been elected sheriff seven times, making him the longest serving Stillwater County employee.
Kuntz also notes Brophy’s history of public service is evidence that he “is seriously committed to the community. He is not an outsider, interested only in his own selfish ends,” according to the suit.
Named as respondents in the suit, under their official capacities, are Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and Stillwater County Clerk & Recorder Heidi Stadel.