Wendt nabs sheriff seat, local levies pass

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
At the polls

The Lutheran Church welcomed election workers and voters last Tuesday. J.P. Plutt photo

Beaverhead County voters elected Undersheriff David Wendt to become the next sheriff on Nov. 8, passed the Dillon Public Library tax levy and approved a 3% sales tax on marijuana sales, according to unofficial vote totals.

Wendt, a Republican, received 3,675 votes (85%). Independent Chris Brozell received 450 votes (10%), and Libertarian Jack T. Nicholas received 168 votes (4%). Turnout was 63.04%, according to state election data.

Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley, Clerk and Recorder Stacey Reynolds, County Attorney Jed C. Fitch, Justice of the Peace Randi Braddock, Superintendent of Schools Mike Miller, Public Administrator Paul Pilgrim and Treasurer Cathy Hucke were re-elected and unopposed. Charles Coble was elected to coroner, the sole candidate for that seat.

Dillon Public Library’s two-mill levy passed 2,763-1,591, or 63% in favor of the levy. The 3% marijuana sales tax in the county passed 3,295 votes to 1,070 against, or 75% to 25%.

House State Representative District 72 incumbent Republican Tom Welch was overwhelmingly re-elected, receiving 81% of the vote to Democratic challenger Holt Gibson’s 18%.

The new U.S. House Representative seat (1st District) went to Republican Ryan Zinke, who took 50% of the vote to Democrat Monica Tranel’s 46% and Libertarian John Lamb’s 4%.

U.S. Rep. 2nd District incumbent Republican Matt Rosendale was reelected with 57% of the vote. Independent Gary Buchanan took 22%, Democrat Penny Ronning received 20% and Libertarian Sam Rankin received 1%.

Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice received 77% of the vote compared to challenger Bill D’Alton’s 22%, and Justice Ingrid Gustafson was re-elected with 54% of the vote over challenger James Brown’s 46%. Brown is from Dillon and maintains a law office in town.

Constitutional Amendment 48 passed easily with 82% of votes in favor. The amendment would explicitly include electronic data and communications in search and seizure protections.

Legislative Referendum 131 failed, with 53% of voters against the measure. LR 131, dubbed the “Born-alive Infant Protection Act,” would consider all born-alive infants (including those after an abortion) as legal people requiring medical personnel to preserve their lives with all medically-appropriate and reasonable actions. It also creates a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine for health care providers found guilty of failing to take those actions.

Voter turnout in the county was 63.04% according to state data. Statewide turnout was 60.32%.

Editor’s Note: An older version of this story first appeared on the Dillon Tribune website, www.dillontribune. com.