Sanders County Ledger - Your Best Source For Sanders County News

ELECTION 2018: Sanders County Commissioner


Carol Brooker

NAME: Carol A. Brooker

EDUCATION: Went to the historic Cold Springs Grade School and Graduated from Sentinel High School in Missoula Montana. Attended University of Montana

FAMILY: Married to my husband Tim for 43 years. One son Anders and his wife Meg, business owners in Missoula Montana.

OCCUPATION: Sanders County Commissioner

EXPERIENCE: Sanders County Commissioner for the last 23 years. Deputy Clerk of Court in Beaverhead County. Owned and operated businesses in Sanders County. Plains School board trustee for 7 years. Elected by my peers, president of MACO for two terms, representing all the county elected officials in Montana. Serving on many county and state-wide boards.

WHY ARE YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION? My 30 years of experience in public service makes me the best candidate for this position. I'm very proud of my positive relationship with the USFS over the years and other local and state-wide agencies. I have always been accessible to the community and been community involved.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE MOST IMPORANT ISSUES FOR SANDERS COUNTY RESIDENTS? Residents want their government to be responsive to their needs. I receive the most calls and visits from the residents about roads. I'm very proud of all the road crews and the work they are able to do with the road budget we have. Economic development has always been important. I believe in the future of our timber and mining resources, as well as supporting agriculture, small business and recreational opportunities.

WHAT NEEDS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE OR CAPITAL PROJECTS DO YOU SEE IN SANDERS COUNTY? We are currently working on relocating the solid waste transfer station and installing a new waste water system in Paradise. Future priorities will be expanding the county jail, continue paving and chip sealing county roads and replacing the deck on the Plains bridge.

DO YOU SUPPORT THE RECENT CONSOLIDATION OF COUNTY OFFICES SUCH AS TREASURER/CLERK & RECORDER AND SHERIFF/CORONER? WHY OR WHY NOT? Yes, I support the consolidation of Treasurer/Clerk and Recorder and Sheriff/Coroner. The county has hired a part time CFO to do the bookkeeping, school levies and the county budgets. The newly elected Treasurer/Clerk and Recorder will be responsible for all other duties. I don't think the public will notice any difference when they come to courthouse for services. The elected Sheriff/Coroner will now have trained coroners he can dispatch when needed. These changes will also save the tax payers money in salaries and benefits.

WHAT AREA OF COUNTY SERVICES DO YOU FEEL MOST NEEDS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES? Roads always need more resources, the price of doing business is going up, the revenue is not going up at the same pace. The Sheriff's Office always has needs greater than their budget will allow. Right now, we have eight officers, more than we have ever had. The cost of those officers keeps going up; cars, fuel, uniforms and salaries to name a few. The county is looking for additional resources all the time.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU'D LIKE VOTERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? Like most people, I have always had to work hard to live in Sanders County. I do so because I love Sanders County.

NAME: Paul C. Fielder

EDUCATION: Associate in Applied Science in Agriculture

Bachelor of Science in Fishery Biology

Master of Science in Wildlife Biology

FAMILY: My wife is Senator Jennifer Fielder. My son served in the U.S. Marines on the Presidential Guard Unit and my daughter is a teacher. Both kids are happily married and have given us five beautiful grandkids. I am the oldest of five children in my family and mom and dad are still doing well at 88 and 89 years young.

OCCUPATION: Retired Wildlife Biologist

EXPERIENCE: Most of my 31-year career was spent working in the outdoors as a Wildlife Biologist for a large hydroelectric utility company. The last two years I was as an administrator with oversight of staff and programs, planning, budgeting, scheduling, purchasing, training and quality control.

Throughout my life I have served in a number of sportsmen, professional, and civic organizations. I've assisted a number of state legislators and county commissioners with wildlife management issues and public policy to increase access to public lands, and bring back logging, grazing, and mining while ensuring clean air and water. I have drafted key components of legislation, testified in numerous legislative hearings, and chaired the statewide committee that wrote the Voter Guide position statement to protect our hunting and trapping heritage.

When I was a member of the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Citizens Advisory Council I provided the scientific justification that gave us a longer spring bear season. I also provided strong leadership to curtail FWP from killing off walleye in the Clark Fork River.

WHY ARE YOU THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR THIS POSITION? People keep telling me that my opponent has been in there too long. Most people agree that elected officials shouldn't stay in the same office for 30 years. It is time for a new person with new ideas and energy to improve conditions in Sanders County. I'll give people that choice.

Sanders County is rich - in natural resources. I will use my background to find every way possible to increase use of and access to our timber and mineral resources, while protecting our environment. An increase in timber and mining jobs will have a ripple effect in creating other jobs, such as home building, places to eat, stores, medical services, teachers for increased school enrollment. With all of the natural resources in our county, there is no good reason that Sanders County has the 2nd highest unemployment rate out of the 56 Montana counties.

Regarding the county budget, I pay attention to details, especially financial details. I'll make sure that county funds are spent on what is most necessary and what provides the best long-term benefits for the people. It is not the county's money – it is the people's money and the people deserve the best bang for their buck.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR SANDERS COUNTY RESIDENTS? It is important to provide good public service, better roads, fair and honest elections, no tax increases, safe schools, upholding our 2nd Amendment rights, more services at the east and west ends of the county, healthy air that is not filled with carcinogenic wildfire smoke pollution, environmentally responsible mining and timber jobs, good emergency and first responder services, protection of property rights and water rights, privacy, control of wildlife damage, good hunting and fishing opportunities, less gates on public lands, more access to public lands for firewood cutting and recreational activities, efficiencies in the county fair operations, less wildfires, and more jobs. A strong Commissioner can influence all of these things.

WHAT NEEDS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE OR CAPITAL PROJECTS DO YOU SEE IN SANDERS COUNTY? First, roads need to be fixed right so we don't keep "patching the patches" every year. Our road crews need the resources to do the job right. They also need the schedule flexibility and equipment to keep our roads safe during winter driving conditions.

Second, improved internet and cell-phone coverage throughout the county would be helpful to residents and business. It would also aid emergency services and allow peace officers to do remote reporting from the outlying reaches of the county. This would increase the deputies' availability in our communities and reduce their time behind a desk or driving to a desk.

Third, the county may need to move the Thompson Falls dump (solid waste transfer facility) to another location to provide long-term financial benefits for the county. It will require a well coordinated plan to make that happen.

And finally, existing buildings must be properly maintained in order to prevent costly repairs in the future. We need to prioritize projects so that roads and building can be taken care of before it becomes too late and too expensive to catch up on the deterioration.

DO YOU SUPPORT THE RECENT CONSOLIDATION OF COUNTY OFFICES SUCH AS TREASURER/CLERK & RECORDER AND SHERIFF/CORONER? WHY OR WHY NOT? I support the consolidations. A public meeting on this subject was held December 7th, and it was attended by 12 members of the public plus many county officials. Most of the concerns voiced at that meeting seemed to have been fairly well addressed. The bottom line is, County Commissioners are responsible for the county budget, funds are extremely limited, and combining positions saves money.

Forty Montana counties have gone to a combined Sheriff/Coroner position to help keep costs down. Combining the Treasurer/Clerk & Recorder position will also save money. The new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will assume all financial aspects of both the Treasurer's office and Clerk & Recorders office to efficiently cover the administrative workload of these two offices. The CFO would be under the Commissioners' supervision. The staff within all of the offices that have been combined will still be there doing their jobs, there will just be fewer administrators.

Safeguards are in place to provide checks and balances and transparency within each of the combined positions. Finally, if the consolidation of these offices does not work, the county can always return to the way it was prior to one or both of these consolidations.

Paul Fielder

WHAT AREA OF COUNTY SERVICES DO YOU FEEL MOST NEEDS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES? ROADS. Everybody uses them. Lots of people talk to me about the need for improving our roads. The County Commissioners can directly affect road maintenance and improvements by budgeting enough money for road crew personnel, training, and equipment so that they can do their jobs well. A sound long term Capital Improvement Plan should prioritize, year by year, where work needs to be done, what work needs to be done, who is going to do it, what resources (including money) is needed to do it, where those resources will come from, what will it take to get those resources, and who will take the action to get it done. Ultimately, the final responsibility to make sure all that gets done rests with YOUR County Commissioners.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU'D LIKE VOTERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? I jokingly tell people that my middle initial, "C", stands for "CHEAP." The reason for that is I am really careful with finances. As a Commissioner, I will go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb, find ways to stretch money where we can, and if I wouldn't spend my own money on it I sure won't rubber stamp spending the County (public) money on it. Just like every household in Sanders County, the government has to live within its means. I will look for ways to improve our county budget so that we can fund essential services without increasing taxes.


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