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Stevensville mayoral candidates – in their own words

Mark Adams

 

My name is Mark Adams and I am running for Mayor of Stevensville. First, I would like to thank Michael and Victoria Howell for giving me this opportunity to express my views.

 

I was born in Missoula and spent the first 18 years of my life in Stevensville. After graduating from Stevensville High School I went to the Air Force Academy, The University of Montana, and I finally went to Oregon to be a restaurant manager. I spent to 20 years in Oregon driving truck, tapping furnaces in a smelter, working in technology(high tech), and running my own electronics design firm. I moved back to Stevensville in 1997 and started driving truck until my retirement earlier this year. I met my wife, Victoria, at church in 1999 and my 2 step daughters have given us 2 wonderful grandchildren so far.

 

Stevensville’s finances are a shambles. It could be said that since we’ve had at least 4 finance officers in the last year, that is to be expected. As I have stated in previous articles, I would take the human resources function away from the finance officer and give it to the mayor. Starting as soon as the financial situation is stable, a report in The Bitterroot Star, on the town’s website, and perhaps on social media would be published once a month. This report would show Stevensville’s financial status for the most recent month. I know the new finance officer is working diligently to resolve these issues, but the problems didn’t happen over night and if I am elected they will be resolved.

 

About 20% of of property taxes go to the Town of Stevensville. By this I mean if your property taxes are $1000 about $200 go to the town. Yes, there are other sources of revenue such as the gambling money and state revenues but these are not generally as reliable as property tax revenues because they fluctuate. Until the legislature comes up with an alternative plan, I believe the best way to fund the town and its infrastructure is to raise property taxes. But wait, we are already paying what I feel are exorbitant tax rates. So what is the answer? Economic development. I feel very strongly that we need to build on our strong foundation that already exists. By helping the businesses that are here, we can make more economic opportunities for our people, both young and old. Knowing that one plan doesn’t fit every business I would take the time to sit down with each individual business and see what the town can do to help them grow or even just to stay in business. The Town of Stevensville needs to do a much better job of growing the businesses and industries that are already here. That, I believe, is the best way to raise the town’s revenues.

 

There are three ways to save money, we can spend nothing and hope for the best, we can spend less and get the same level of service, or we can spend the same and get a higher level of service.  The last of these is what I would like to explore. I would like to consolidate the fire/ems functions and the law enforcement function. No, I don’t mean to put the two separate entities together, I mean consolidate the two fire departments we have in Stevensville and Consolidate the town police force with the county sheriff. I know these are both controversial subjects but the cost of goods and services is going up faster than the revenues coming into the town. Even with all the growth we’ve experienced, there are still too few people in too large an area for everybody to have their own little kingdom. To give an example: say the Town of Stevensville wants to buy a new fire engine. A brand new fire engine costs between $300,000 and $400,000. The town can’t afford that much so that puts us in the used fire engine market. A used engine that gives acceptable service would run about $100,000. As it stands now the town taxpayers would cover the entire cost. If the rural fire district was included, the cost for all would be more acceptable. Which is better, have 2 people split the cost, or 200 people split the cost?  I understand all the complexities involved and I know it would take time but it works in other places in Montana. Plentywood contracts with the county sheriff for law enforcement and Belgrade contracts with Central Valley Fire District for fire suppression.  Consolidation works right here in Stevensville at the school district. If you drive around the countryside and see all the old schools that were once  stand alone school districts you get a better picture of what I am talking about. Were those people who consolidated those schools with Stevensville any smarter than we are? I don’t think so. There just a few egos and attitudes that need to be changed. Sometimes egos and attitudes are the toughest things to change.

 

In closing I would ask for your vote because We, The People of Stevensville deserve a brighter more prosperous future. That means ALL of us. If you have any questions or ideas you can call me at 218-8132.

 

James V. (Jim) Crews

 

Hi, I am Jim Crews, current Mayor of Stevensville.

 

I grew up in northeastern and central Florida. As a boy, I started working after school to help my mom after my parents divorced. I worked weekends and over the summer months working any job that I could find. I did things such as working at a truck stop, refueling trucks, cleaning windshields, changing tires. My father, who had an air conditioning and refrigeration business, taught me a good deal about his business and his trade. I also worked for an electrician learning how to wire homes and businesses. I also had an opportunity to work in the commercial shrimp business after school one winter. Back in those days, a boy who was willing to work and learn was not bound by the restrictions we have today.

 

In the summer of 1970 we moved to central Florida. I worked various jobs after school and over the summer, including lawn mowing, working at the local grocery store and convenience store chain where I learned inventory control, delivered ice and worked to install ice machines and air-conditioning systems.

 

While in high school I enrolled at the local junior college into the Central Adult High School program in order to graduate high school early. I had made an adult decision, which was to enlist in the US Navy.

 

I left for boot camp the first week of January 1974. I was to be a Navy Nuclear Machinist Mate. A decision I have never regretted and would be more than happy to take the plunge again. My duty stations looked like this:
• Boot camp, Orlando Recruit Training Center
• Machinist Mate A School, Great Lakes Naval Training Center
• Temporary duty aboard the USS Tattnall DDG19 in Mayport, Florida
• Navy Nuclear Power School, Bainbridge, Maryland
• Nuclear Propulsion Training Unit, S1C Prototype, Windsor, Connecticut
• Assigned submarine duty aboard the USS Nathan Hale, SSBN623(Blue Crew) This was sea duty and I served aboard the Nathan Hale for 6 patrols.
• Assigned as a Sea Returnee Prototype Instructor at the Nuclear Propulsion Training Unit, S1C Prototype, Windsor, Connecticut
• Final duty was temporary duty aboard the USS Glenard P. Lipscomb SSN685.

 

In January of 1982, I left the Navy to pursue a career in the commercial nuclear industry with the Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS) Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station just west of Phoenix. Each of these positions I held required comprehensive knowledge of all plant systems and operations, as well as being a versatile technical writer.

 

Positions held were as follows:
• Plant Mechanic
• Maintenance Planner
• Maintenance Systems Engineer III
• Operations System Engineer III
• Mechanical Maintenance Engineer
• Senior Maintenance Planner
• Senior Outage Planner
• Senior Maintenance Standards Advisor.

 

While employed in the nuclear industry I started training for a new career and when the opportunity presented itself, I retired from the nuclear industry in order to pursue my career as a firearms instructor. I worked full time privately from 1994 to 2004.

 

In 1999, I moved to Stevensville. This is where I learned that running a traveling training program and living in Montana simply does not work. At the end of 2004, I shut my full-time training operation down. As a side note, between 1997 and 2004 I wrote several firearms training manuals.

 

In 2005, I re-entered the commercial work force drawing upon some of the electronics and electrical training garnered in my nuclear training to enter the communications industry. I left that industry due to an injury in 2014.

 

In 2014, I was sworn in on the Town Council for the Town of Stevensville and in May of 2016 after two previous mayors resigned, I was sworn in as the Mayor for the Town of Stevensville.

 

What are my greatest concerns/issues regarding Stevensville Town Government?

 

For many years the town of Stevensville has had a town government in flux. It is time that we stabilize the offices of the town, reestablish a good working relationship with the town’s citizens. 50% of the council could be replaced in January as well as the Mayor.

 

What that means is six months to a year of intense work by the council and mayor to establish a good working relationship in order to build trust and confidence between the executive and commission.

 

A few things need to be looked at:

 

The Town’s Policies and ordinances need to be reviewed and be modified so that they work more effectively.

 

The town’s internal organization needs to be restructured to work more effectively so that we have backup personnel available and to allow for continuity of operations.

 

In order to stabilize and maintain the town’s finances we have to reduce the turnover rate in the Finance Officer’s position and train a deputy Finance Officer to take over should the need arise.

 

What are some of our major town accomplishments in the last year?

 

We as Town rebuilt the airport and signed a Land Use Agreement with the USDA-USFS that will help pay for a large portion of the Town’s FAA Grant Match for the airport rebuild.

 

We as a Town installed a Temporary Fishing Access site that has apparently become the hit of the fishing community. Thank all of you for your support in this endeavor.

 

That about sums it up. Feel free to call me at town hall if you have any questions. I am more than happy to share what I can. I appreciate you allowing me to serve the time I have been here. Thank you.

 

Brandon E. Dewey

 

I began working for the Town of Stevensville in 2012. My job at that time was to develop and establish a position that would serve all the administrative needs of the Town’s Fire Department. The Fire Department had never hired such a position before, and we had to build it from the ground up. Today, the Fire Department has a powerful records management system, updated equipment and administrative procedures to support the operations of the Fire Department.

 

Because of my ability to organize the Fire Department and establish procedures and efficiency in my administrative position, I was tasked by the Town’s administration to develop the first ever website for the Town of Stevensville government. This was an exciting venture that led to further transparency in the Town’s Government and more interaction with the public. This job function was later adapted to serve all the community relations needs for the Town. Here, I established valuable connections with citizens and the general public, and built relationships with the Town’s partners. This experience led me to gain an in-depth understanding of the Town’s operations, from administration to public works, planning and zoning, and public safety.

 

During this time, I served as the Town of Stevensville’s Interim Finance Officer. I stepped in and kept the wheels of the Town’s financial operations running. I gained a sound knowledge of our budget, cash situation, and financial procedures and policies.

 

Prior to my service with the Town of Stevensville, I worked for the University of Montana Admissions Office, Ravalli County Drug Free Communities Program, and the Stevensville Rural Fire District.

 

Stevensville faces many issues ranging from the development of our parks to making sure we have adequate public safety resources. We need to be addressing growth trends and implementing ways that help our business community thrive, enhancing our tax base. When our local economy does better our Town government can do more to provide the services that we need, and in turn the residents in our community have a better quality of life. While we’ve made substantial infrastructure improvements over the past decade, there is still much more to be done relating to our water and sewer systems, streets, and sidewalks that make our active community more walkable.

 

To be a sustainable community our leadership needs to be innovative and engaged. The Town must connect with residents and business owners to ensure that the way we do business at Town Hall is effective and meets the needs of our community. I continue to work every day to make our community a better place to live, work and play.

 

Why run for Mayor? I want to help. I have been inspired to step up and do my best to make a difference. My background, knowledge, and energy make me your candidate for Mayor of Stevensville. I want us, as a community, to work together to address and overcome the issues and challenges we face as a small rural American town.

One Response to Stevensville mayoral candidates – in their own words
  1. Shirley Rasmussen
    November 2, 2017 | 6:44 am

    I just have one question for Jim Crews, pertaining to his comment about the airport: “We as Town rebuilt the airport and signed a Land Use Agreement with the USDA-USFS that will help pay for a large portion of the Town’s FAA Grant Match for the airport rebuild.” I just wonder how you plan to “rebuild” that airport if you keep putting the income it generates into the general fund for the town? Sure would like to hear a discussion of that question.

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