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Ravalli County prepares for fewer commissioners - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Ravalli County prepares for fewer commissioners

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HAMILTON -  Ravalli County’s experiment with a five-member Board of County Commissioners is coming to an end.

Although much of that decade-plus time was filled with acrimony, the phase is ending on a harmonious note as two of the three current commissioners have opted to step aside.

With all the county incumbents filing for re-election last week, the big question was how the current five commissioners would approach the upcoming voter-mandated change to drop to county commissioners next year.

Ever since that change was approved in 2016, the anticipation was that Doug Schallenberger and Ray Hawk would call it after one, four-year term, leaving Jeff Burrows, Greg Chilcott and newcomer -- and former Sheriff Chris Hoffman -- to serve the three new districts and fend off any challengers.

Schallenberger says for him, it was “an age thing, " Jeff does a good job and he’s young. We’re going to be switching to three and for me, it’s just a good time to retire and move on.”

“You know, I ran mostly to unseat the guy that was in there. I accomplished that. Had they gone on with five commissioners of course, I would have run again. Not a problem," Commissioner Ray Hawk told MTN News. "But I didn’t feel comfortable running against Greg. He’s a good friend of mine and does a good job. He’s top of the line as far as I’m concerned.'

That mutual respect is a 180-degree turn from where the Board was four years ago. Following a final blow up over the appointment and dismissal of Treasurer Valerie Stamey, voters were ready for a change -- and by and large, that happened.

“I feel good about that. The three years I’ve been here it’s been very cordial, very good. We’ve got along, everything was good. We got a lot done," Hawk said.

“I feel good about being here the four years. It’s been good for me. I think I did what I hoped to do. For me, it was more of a common sense, more of a stabilization," Schallenberger said. "It wasn’t like I brought a ton of knowledge or something new. I didn’t have an agenda that I had to get done. It was just trying to make good decisions and vote in that direction.”

Among the other incumbents filing this week were Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton, and the man who used to hold that job, Perry Johnson -- who filed to run for Justice of the Peace in Ravalli County.

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