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Nine candidates seek open city council seat

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | September 21, 2022 6:00 AM

Nine people have thrown their proverbial hats into the ring for an open Columbia Falls City Council seat.

The council seat came open when longtime councilor Doug Karper announced his resignation earlier this month, as he’s moving out of state.

The council Monday night decided to give each candidate a questionnaire that will be due by Friday. The council will then hold a workshop next Monday, Sept. 26, at 6:30 p.m. to go over the applicants.

It will then make a final decision at its first meeting in October. Karper’s term runs through Dec. 2023, so the person who is appointed would face an election next fall.

Council has 30 days from Karper’s resignation to make a decision.

Council had initial concerns that candidates wouldn’t come forward.

That wasn’t the case.

The candidates are:

• Alice Biel, a writer for the National Park Service for 22 years, Biel said she was impressed

on how well the city is run and was a supporter of the resort tax and she said she supports practical solutions that will benefit the community and “keep the town moving forward.”

• Clay Lundgren. Lundgren has previously run for city council and is a member of the city planning board. “We must listen, learn and accept the voice of our community,” he noted in his letter of interest.

• Kelly Hamilton, a Columbia Falls native who has successfully run large nonprofit campaigns in the past, including the Toys for Tots program. “I have a passion for this community that I have grown up in and know that I can benefit the public and council.”

• Kathryn Price, a lifelong resident and businessowner in Columbia Falls, she said she would be “happy to serve her community.”

• James Osborne, whose family has been in Northwest Montana since the 1900s and in Columbia Falls since the 1950s. Osborne had to leave the area when the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. plant shut down in 2010. He worked in oil fields across the country and even in Saudi Arabia. He has since returned.

“I feel I can bring some fresh insight to the council on the potential effects of council decisions on our friends and neighbors.”

• Mark Johnson, a longtime resident and former manager at Glacier Bank in Columbia Falls. He also served for years on the Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce board.

• Todd L. Schleusner, a chiropractor in Columbia Falls, he also serves on the Flathead K9 Foundation and the North Valley Search and Rescue Foundation. He is a volunteer K9 handler.

• Heather Peacock, a longtime resident and pharmacist, she and her husband Jim raised their two children here. Jim Peacock is a teacher at the Columbia Falls High School and the cross country team head coach and an assistant track coach.

• R.N. Hedgecock is a longtime resident of over 30 years.

Some candidates wrote more than others in their application letters. Council noted that a few only wrote a sentence or two.

The workshop is open to the public as is the council meeting Oct. 3 when they will make a final decision.

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