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Lewis and Clark County voters

Lewis and Clark County voters take to the polls Tuesday at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

Longtime legislator Mary Caferro won Helena’s hotly contested House District 81 Democratic primary by a little more than 100 votes over Helena City Commissioner Rob Farris-Olsen.

Caferro received 1,015 votes to Farris-Olsen’s 904 – a 53 percent to 47 percent advantage.

“I feel very grateful and I’m honored to continue to serve,” she said Wednesday.

Caferro said she was grateful to her campaign team, volunteers, family and the voters of her district.

A community organizer and advocate for those with disabilities with The Arc Montana, Caferro was first elected as a state representative in 2004 and most recently served two terms in the Senate. The bodies have different paces and strengths, she said.

“To be affective and get work done in either chamber is based on your commitment to the people you represent and your relationship with your colleagues,” she said.

When Caferro first served in the House, the body had an even or near even split between Democrats and Republicans, compared to today when Republicans have held majorities.

During the primary, she touted her experience as a lawmaker and work to pass legislation over multiple sessions. Caferro’s top priorities are reauthorizing Medicaid expansion that provides 90,000 Montanans health insurance and restoring cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services. To those ends she is interested in serving on budget and DPHHS budget subcommittees, but is unsure of her assignments as a freshman representative.

After a tight race that drew significant public interest, Caferro felt it was important to move forward in a unified manner.

Farris-Olsen said Tuesday that he is interested in working together as a city commissioner.

“We can work together to move Helena and Montana forward … as a lot of our needs can be helped from the state,” he said. “While I didn’t win, we have a lot of things we can work together on.”

Caferro will not face a Republican challenger in this fall’s general election. She plans to revisit some of the ideas for legislation she heard while talking to area residents during the campaign.

“My best ideas are not my own, they come from the people on the ground,” she said. “This campaign was another awesome experience connecting with people in Helena.”

Here are the results from other Helena-area primary elections, with all ballots except provisional ballots counted. 

Helena fire levy

  • For the levy: 5,971 (69 percent) *WINNER
  • Against the levy: 2,658 (31 percent)

Senate District 41 

  • Janet Ellis, Democrat: 2,880 (82 percent) *WINNER
  • Michael Uda, Democrat: 623 (18 percent)

House District 17

  • Ross H. Fitzgerald, Republican: 1,618 (76 percent) *WINNER
  • Andrew S. Watson, Republican: 516 (24 percent)

House District 70 

  • Julie Dooling, Republican: 832 (36 percent) *WINNER
  • Jon Jackson, Republican: 486 (21 percent)
  • Jim S. Manion, Republican: 520 (23 percent)
  • Tim Ravndal, Republican: 456 (20 percent)

House District 75

  • Joseph J. Calnan, Democrat: 483 (38 percent)
  • J. Bryher Herak, Democrat: 804 (62 percent) *WINNER
  • Greg DeVries, Republican: 902 (55 percent) *WINNER
  • Gregg Trude, Republican: 726 (45 percent)

Public Service Commissioner District 5

  • Andy Shirtliff, Democrat: 16,284 (70 percent) *WINNER
  • Henry Clay Speich, Democrat: 2,698 (12 percent)
  • Tyrel Suzor-Hoy, Democrat: 4,335 (19 percent)

Jefferson County Search and Rescue levy

  • For the levy: 2,413 (70 percent) *WINNER
  • Against the levy: 1,020 (30 percent)
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