East Helena City Councilman Kit Johnson has been reelected to his current position in Ward 1. The only problem is, he doesn’t want the job.
After nine years on the city council, Johnson said it’s time to step down. And that’s exactly why he declined to run for reelection this year.
Because nobody registered to run for the Ward 1 seat, voters had the rare opportunity to write in the name of anyone who meets 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.
Kelly Harris received the most write-in votes with a total of five. But Harris also happens to be the winner of the election for the Ward 2 seat on the city council where he lives, so he is ineligible to hold office in Ward 1.
Next up were Kevin Hand and Johnson with three votes each. The votes for Hand were also found to be invalid, making Johnson the winner.
The results will become official when they are canvassed on Nov. 8 by the Lewis and Clark County Commission, Elections Supervisor Audrey McCue said. After the canvass, Johnson will have 10 days to formally accept the position and pay the filing fee of $40.80.
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Johnson reiterated Tuesday that he will not accept the position, creating uncertainty about how the job will be filled.
“We have submitted questions for legal review to determine what would happen in the event that Mr. Johnson does not file a declaration of acceptance and pay the filing fee,” McCue said.
Eight people each received two write-in votes for the Ward 1 seat, but three of the names were invalid and two others are inconclusive.
Here is the full list of those who received two votes:
- Charlie P Hull Jr: valid
- Jonathan Heslep: valid
- Joy C Bowen: valid
- Jim Meier: inconclusive
- Judy Leland: inconclusive
- Delane Erickson: invalid
- Liza Zeigler: invalid
- Terri Casey: invalid