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County commission, justice of the peace races highlight 2020 Lewis & Clark elections

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 21:05:31-05

HELENA — 2020 will be a busy political year across Montana – including in local races around the state. In Lewis and Clark, three county offices will appear on voters’ ballots.

Candidates can begin filing to run in the 2020 elections on Jan. 9.

Perhaps the most prominent race in Lewis and Clark County this year will be for a seat on the Lewis and Clark County Commission. Incumbent Commissioner Susan Good Geise has said she will not run for another six-year term. The position is open to residents of the county’s District 2, which includes much of central and eastern Helena, parts of the Helena Valley and the Augusta area.

Tyrel Suzor-Hoy, a 2018 candidate for the Montana Public Service Commission, filed paperwork with the state Commissioner of Political Practices last month, indicating he intended to run for the commission seat. MTN has also learned of at least one other candidate already considering getting into the race.

This will be the first time an election for Lewis and Clark County Commission will be run without party labels, after county voters approved a switch to nonpartisan elections last year.

Voters will also select Lewis and Clark County’s second justice of the peace this year. In 2018, the county commission decided to add a second justice court position, to address a rising caseload for Justice of the Peace Mike Swingley.

Two candidates have already filed campaign finance paperwork for the new position: Mark Piskolich, a former probation officer from Helena and Shawn White Wolf, an East Helena resident who formerly worked with the Montana United Indian Association.

If enough candidates file for any nonpartisan county position, there will be a primary election in June, and the top two candidates will make the general election ballot. If there are fewer candidates, all of them will appear on the ballot in November.

While district court clerk is a county office, elections for district court judges are handled by the state. That means candidates will have to file with the Montana Secretary of State’s office, instead of with the Lewis and Clark County Elections Office.

This year, the 1st District Court position held by Judge Kathy Seeley will be up for election. The 1st District includes Lewis and Clark and Broadwater Counties.

There will be two months for anyone interested in these races to put their names forward. Candidate filing will close on Mar. 9.

You can find more information about candidate qualifications and filing procedures at the Secretary of State’s website or the Lewis and Clark County Elections website.