Stevi leaders to solider on after resignations, will appoint new council members

Posted at 8:28 AM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 10:42:10-04

STEVENSVILLE – It may be the loneliest council meeting in the recent history of Montana.

But when Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey and the last remaining member of the Town Council meet Thursday evening, their goal will be to conduct regular business and then start filling vacancies.

The unusual Town Council meeting comes after Stacie Barker’s sudden resignation Tuesday, just days after Jim Crews and Bob Michalson pulled out, all accusing Dewey of procedures which “aren’t legal”.

Mayor Dewey spent Wednesday ironing out what comes next.

“The city attorney has worked with Local Government Center over in Bozeman and kind of created this legal background as to how we’re best going to move forward in replacing these vacancies,” he explained.

Stevensville Town Hall
The Stevensville Town Hall (MTN News photo)

“It’s certainly, for the most part, an unprecedented event — certainly in our community and probably among others as well. And our whole goal here is to get as much public input and involvement as we can and continue the business of the town,” Mayor Dewey said.

“The council is set up for four right now. We have one, so we’re going to be relying on the one council member to conduct town business,” Stevensville City Attorney Scott Owen said.

Barker’s departure is just the latest punch in a political fight that’s been going on for years but has taken a particularly divisive turn since Dewey has been in the mayor’s chair.

It started with objections of his role as mayor and volunteer firefighter, continuing through a series of disagreements.

But matters reached a point of no return when the council moved to appoint former Mayor Jim Crews over Dewey’s procedural objections, and then the mayor’s move to appoint Owen as the new attorney.

Brandon Dewey
Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey (MTN News photo)

Dewey and Councilwoman Robin Holcomb will meet on Thursday, conducting basic business on the definition that Montana law allows that as long as there is a “member” of the council. Then next week, a special meeting dealing with the vacancies.

“You know, the city attorney and I and the staff here are committed to making sure that there’s some continuity and that the bills are paid, services are still offered and that there’s no interruptions to those types of things,” Mayor Dewey said.

“Certainly in regards to public safety, there’s no risk whatsoever that those things are going to cease. But the water will continue to run and the lights will stay on,” he added.

Mayor Dewey says there’s an urgency to fill the appointments for the council’s operations because all three vacant seats are up for re-election in November.