By Sarah Pridgeon
Three Republican candidates will run for the position of Crook County Commissioner at the upcoming primary election: Ted Davis of Sundance, Will West of Oshoto and incumbent Kelly Dennis.
Dennis is seeking re-election for a second term, and believes that financial issues will be among the most important faced by the county over the next few years, as funding is likely to get much tighter.
“Good management will be essential – maintaining the best infrastructure we can afford, to keep private business going, will be a challenge,” he says.
“I’ve always had an interest in government and politics,” he continues. “Higher levels of government don’t attract me at all, which is why I ran for local office. I still feel that I have plenty to contribute, if the voters want to keep me on.”
Dennis’s intentions, if elected for a second term, are to make “sound financial decisions, and well-informed moves as a third of the board.”
“I have the experience of my first term, plus various terms on other boards,” he says, explaining what he believes qualifies him to serve as commissioner for a second term. “I also have 40-plus years of business experience, to include agriculture, mechanical and energy industry.”
Dennis is a life-long resident of Crook County. “My grandchildren are the sixth generation of family in Crook County, spanning over 100 years. I’m also a landowner in the county.”
The first of two potential candidates running against Dennis, Ted Davis resides in Sundance, where he has lived for almost 40 years. Originally from North Wisconsin, he moved to the county in 1976 and graduated from the Sundance High School in 1981.
Since then, he has been involved in a number of community activities, including as a volunteer youth group leader and member of the City Council in 2006, until he moved outside of city limits. He has served as the Chairman of the county’s Republican Party for the last three years.
“I would like to see enough new economic development in the county to start better funding it and to encourage growth and better services,” he says, explaining his reasons for running. “I’d like to see a steady economic growth pattern that provides employment for future generations: if the economy stagnates, our children and grandchildren will have to move away to places where there is economic growth.”
Davis describes himself as good at working with people, not against them. “Voices in the conversation are vitally important to me – I want to hear people’s concerns, even if I eventually need to vote against them.”
Davis aims, if elected, to protect the economy as well as strengthen it in order to create balance, so that economic growth provides benefit for current residents as well as new. He intends to support current industries, such as agricultural and timber, as well as encourage new industries, such as mining and tourism, and provide small business opportunities that will be supported by a flourishing economy.
The third candidate seeking your vote is Will West of northern Oshoto. A married father of four, West resides on a third generation ranch and is also a small business owner.
“I’m running for commissioner because I feel the county needs a lot more advance planning,” he explains. “We’re on the verge of seeing an influx of people over the next couple of years. We need to start the ball rolling and get people talking.”
West intends to examine the county’s infrastructure, should he win the vote. He believes that the expected increase in population will place additional pressure on the school district, fire service, health care and road and bridge, the latter particularly in rural areas where high numbers of new residents would place huge demand on the road systems.
“How will we fund all this? Is our current taxation adequate?” he asks. “We need to understand how this will be done.”
West also intends to nudge the state to make the D road into a state highway for at least 20 miles to the north, believing that it would significantly help the budget of Road and Bridge for the road to be a state problem.
He would also like to address long-term planning to deal with the mineral mining expected to be coming to the county. “There’s no real plan in place, which means private landowners are on their own right now,” West explains. “I would like the commissioners to be able to use their leverage to protect citizens. Some of these things might be ideals that can’t be achieved right now, but it’s where we should be heading.”
The primary election will be held on August 21.