Three Lewis and Clark County officials and a local district judge filed for re-election Thursday, the first day to register as a candidate in this year's elections.
Sheriff Leo Dutton is running as a Democrat for re-election as sheriff/coroner, which is a new position. The county commission voted in December to consolidate the two elected positions, which has been done in dozens of other Montana counties. In addition to overseeing the county's law enforcement, the sheriff/coroner will handle cause-of-death investigations and provide death certificates.
Leo Gallagher is running as a Democrat for re-election as county attorney/public administrator. The county attorney is the state's prosecutor, the county's legal adviser, and the public administrator for estates of those who have died without anyone to administer their property. The person in this position also represents the state in child neglect cases and professionals seeking to commit mentally-ill persons to facilities, and assists survivors of domestic violence or sexual crimes. The county attorney does not prosecute misdemeanors or provide legal help to private citizens.
Michael Swingley is running for re-election as justice of the peace, which is a nonpartisan position. The justice of the peace is in charge of the Lewis and Clark County Justice Court. It is the judicial branch of county government responsible for all misdemeanor offenses including traffic, criminal and animal control violations, and where all felony cases are initially filed. It is also the small claims court for Lewis and Clark County.
The District 1 county commissioner, county treasurer/clerk and recorder, and county superintendent of schools positions are also up for election this year.
County commissioners make decisions on county funding, legislative action, land-use and other choices that impact the county as a whole. Andy Hunthausen is the commissioner currently elected to this position in District 1.
The treasurer/clerk and recorder oversees accounting, clerking and recording information for the county, elections, property taxes and motor vehicle taxes and county financial books. Paulette DeHart is the current treasurer/clerk and recorder.
The county superintendent of schools is in charge of financial, administrative, legal, record keeping and transportation-supervisory services for all the schools in the county. The superintendent also makes sure all laws applicable to education are followed and acts as a liaison between state and government agencies. Katrina Chaney is the current superintendent of Lewis and Clark County schools.
The First Judicial District Court Judge positions currently held by Mike Menahan in Department 1 and Michael McMahon in Department 2 are also up for election this year. McMahon, who was elected in 2016 to complete the term of a former judge who retired, filed for re-election Thursday. Both positions are nonpartisan.
Candidates have until March 12 to file. The primary is June 5 and the general election is Nov. 6.