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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Supreme Court Candidates To Face Off At Seeley Lake Forum

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News, Politics
Candidates for Montana’s contested Supreme Court seat, and for Secretary of State will face off at a public forum Monday in Seeley Lake.";

Candidates for Montana’s contested Supreme Court seat and for Secretary of State will face off at a public forum Monday in Seeley Lake.

The Seeley Lake Community Council says they invited "all Democrat, Libertarian and Republican candidates," but that so far, only opposing candidates in the Supreme Court and secretary of state races have confirmed for Monday evening’s event.

That means it will be the first time Democrat Monica Lindeen and Republican Corey Stapleton face questions at the same event in the secretary of state race. It will also feature Supreme Court candidates Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur.

Forum organizer Klaus von Stutterheim say the event is “not a debate.” He will moderate, and will call on members of the audience for questions.

Other candidates who’ve said they’ll be at the Seeley Lake event Monday night are Libertarian Mike Fellows, who’s running for Congress, and Democrats Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney and Larry Jent, who’s running for attorney general

Von Stutterheim said trying to assemble all of the candidates in one place at one time was more difficult than herding cats. He says some candidates "are still unsure whether they will attend."

The council is holding a second candidates' forum on September 29 as well. That event is the first scheduled joint appearance for candidates in the state auditor’s race, which pits Democrat Jesse Laslovich against Republican Matt Rosendale.

The Seeley Lake Community Council released the following press release about their candidate forum:

Candidates for the November election will present themselves at two Candidates Forums, hosted by the Seeley Lake Community Council. The first one will be held next Monday, September 19, at 5:30 at the Community Hall.

Invitations have gone out to all Democrat, Libertarian and Republican candidates. Most have responded positively, some are still unsure whether they will attend, and a few have said that they cannot make it.

So far the following candidates have announced that they will appear: Mike Fellows (US Congress, L), Mike Cooney (Lt. Governor, D), Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur (both MT Supreme Court, NP), Monica Lindeen (Sec'y of State, D), Corey Stapleton (Sec'y of State, R), and Larry Jent (State Atty General, D).

Preceding the forum Lee Boman will briefly speak about the Forest Plan for the Flathead National Forest. That plan will determine how public lands across the Flathead National Forest will be managed for at least the next 20 years. The Forest Service is accepting public comments until October 3.

The second Candidates Forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 5:30 also at the Community Hall. It will include the following offices: State Auditor, Superintendent of Public Education, Public Service Commissioner, Missoula County Commissioner, MT Senate SD 46 and MT House HD 92. All candidates have accepted the invitation, except Melissa Romano (Supt. of Public Ed., D).

Klaus von Stutterheim, Council Chair, commented that “herding cats is nothing compared to trying to assemble all these candidates in one place at one time, especially for the top of the ticket. We are happy that most have chosen to come and continue to actively work on the stragglers.”

In other Community Council news: on Thursday, September 22, a delegation from the Council will travel to Helena to testify before the MT Transportation Commission for lower speed limits in Seeley Lake, in what will likely be the final chapter in an effort that has spanned over two years. Joining representatives from the Council will be County Commissioner Stacy Rye, State Senator Sue Malek, Sheriff Deputy Robert Parcell, and a number of community members. Anyone interested to also testify should contact Duane “Cecil” Schlabach, Chair of the Council’s Traffic Project at (406) 210-2990, or Klaus von Stutterheim at 406-210-8576,

Following the Candidates Forum on September 19 the Council will hold its regular monthly meeting, which will include an opportunity for public comments on non-agenda items.

For further information please contact Klaus von Stutterheim, Chair, at 406?210-8576 or

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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