The future in the making
A third candidate has filed to run for the Stillwater County Commission District 3 seat being vacated at the end of the year.
Ervin Hossfeld, a 51-year-old rancher in the Rapelje area, officially filed to run on Jan. 23. Current District 3 Commissioner Maureen Davey is not seeking re-election.
A FOURTH-GENERATION RAPELJE RANCHER/FARMER/FIRE CHIEF
Hossfeld is a fourth-generation rancher/farmer who has lived in Rapelje for his entire life, with the exception of the time spent at Northern Montana College pursuing a degree in Agriculture Mechanics.
He is also the current Rapelje Volunteer Fire Department chief and president and serves as a county committee person for the Farm Service Agency. Hossfeld has previously served on the Rapelje School Board.
For Hossfeld, running for office comes from his desire to help what he calls a diversified county keep growing.
“I hope to be able to help find solutions to some of the long term issues that we face now that can be both rewarding for the county with enough balance to still make it a desired place to live,” said Hossfeld. “I feel that growing up in a rural community, as well as operating a farm/ ranch for many years, has given me the ability to set a budget within my means as well as expanding when the time seemed appropriate.”
He also touched on the issue of the importance of public officials listen to the people they represent.
“I believe when you’re in a public position that you must listening to the people you serve. If you walk in already knowing the answer before the question is asked, you’re not doing your job properly,” said Hossfeld.
Hossfeld is running as a Republican, as are his opponents, Al Nordahl and Tyrel Hamilton.
Sheriff Cliff Brophy is seeking a court injunction that will allow him to file to run for the position as well. Brophy has not lived in District 3 for the required 2-year time period, and is attempting to challenge that law.
OTHER ELECTED OFFICES
Other current elected office holders who have filed for re-election include Justice of the Peace Lee Cornell, Treasurer Jerry Friend, County Attorney Nancy Rohde and Clerk & Recorder Heidi Stadel.
In the sheriff’s race, Undersheriff Chip Kem is the lone candidate to file so far.
RED LODGE ATTORNEY FILES TO RUN FOR DISTRICT JUDGE OPENING
Red Lodge attorney Ray Kuntz has thrown his hat in the ring to replace retiring 22nd Judicial District Judge Blair Jones, who is retiring at the end of the year.
The 22nd Judicial District covers Stillwater, Carbon and Big Horn counties. The position was created in 2000 and requires the judge to travel to all three counties regularly to hear civil and criminal cases.
Kuntz, 54, has been in private practice in Red Lodge since 1997, and has both criminal and civil experience. His criminal work experience includes DUI to homicide cases and on the civil side, Kuntz says he has successfully represented businesses and families in all three counties, winning cases in both district and supreme courts.
Most recently, Kuntz successfully defended Carbon County Attorney Alex Nixon and former Sheriff Tom Rieger on civil rights charges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
He has been appointed by Montana Supreme Chief Justice McGrath to serve on the Montana Public Defender commission.
He also has some prosecutorial experience.
“I served as special deputy county attorney on a conflict case, and also served as Justice of the Peace Pro-Tem from 2003 to 2010,” said Kuntz.
Kuntz is currently representing Stillwater County Sheriff Cliff Brophy in an effort to have the residency requirement lifted from the office of county commissioner so Brophy can file to run in a district that he has not lived in for the legally required amount of time.
Kuntz graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1991. He practiced law in New York and New Mexico before settling in Montana to be near family and raise his children, according to a news release.
“The fundamental purpose of the law is to make things right. As judge, I will hold people accountable for their actions, defend the Constitution and follow Judge Jones’s example, resolving cases quickly and with common sense,” Kuntz wrote in an email to the News earlier this week.