Kelly Harris is a popular guy around East Helena.
So popular, in fact, that voters apparently tried to elect him to both city commission seats up for election Tuesday, according to preliminary results.
Harris filed as a candidate for the Ward 2 seat currently held by Mike Misowic. With less than 100 provisional ballots yet to be counted, Harris had received 210 votes (70.23%) and his only challenger Liza Zeigler had received 87 votes (29.10%) in that election as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Because nobody registered to run for the Ward 1 seat that was also up for election, voters had the rare opportunity to cast their ballots for anyone who met the minimum qualifications. To be eligible to hold the position in Ward 1, which is south of Riggs Street, a person must be a resident of the ward for at least 60 days preceding the election, a U.S. citizen, registered to vote, and at least 18 years old.
With a total of five votes, Kelly Harris received more write-in votes than any other candidate in the Ward 1 election as of 9:30 p.m. Friday evening. However, Lewis and Clark County Elections Supervisor Audrey McCue said only three people named Kelly Harris are registered to vote in the county, and none of them live in Ward 1.
Current Ward 1 Commissioner Kit Johnson, who is one of two people who received three write-in votes, said he would not accept the position even if he wins the election again.
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Election officials have until the election results are canvassed on Nov. 18 to determine which write-in votes are valid. If the winner of the Ward 1 seat wants the job, he or she will have until Nov. 28 to formally accept the position and pay the filing fee of $40.80.
Harris is a licensed permit technician for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. His priorities include encouraging business growth, addressing aging infrastructure and decreasing turnover among city staff.
"I'm just excited to get to work for the city of East Helena," he said Tuesday night.
Here is the full list of write-in votes cast for the Ward 1 seat, including any invalid votes:
- Kelly Harris: 5
- Kevin Hand: 3
- Kit Johnson: 3
- Charlie P Hull Jr: 2
- Delane Erickson: 2
- Terri Casey: 2
- Liza Zeigler: 2
- Jim Meier: 2
- Jonathan Heslep: 2
- Judy Leland: 2
- Velma Dinley: 1
- Phillip Williams: 1
- Liza Ziegler: 1
- Republican: 1
- John G. Mullen: 1
- Brenda Brewer: 1
- Ken Soderberg: 1
- David Sperzum: 1
- Landon Jemsley: 1
- Ron Flieshner: 1