Powell County Commissioner – Republican Primary
Local Election Guide
June 2, 2022
Voter Information: Incumbent Ralph E. Mannix Jr. and Justin Williams are the two Republican candidates in the Primary Election for Powell County Commissioner District #2. Candidates were allowed 700 words to respond to questions (bold) submitted by Northern Powell County residents. Absentee ballots have been mailed to all registered voters. Voting will occur in-person June 7. Visit My Voter Page to find a polling place closest to you (https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/). For more information contact Powell County Elections Office (https://www.powellcountymt.gov/county-departments/clerk-and-recorder/elections/) or call 406-846-9786.
Ralph E. Mannix Jr. - Incumbent
Biography: I am a fourth generation Mannix in this county and raised my three children here. My great grandfather was the first county commissioner appointed for the north end when Powell County was established in 1900.
I received a Bachelors degree at MSU, taught at Powell County High School for 11 years and was a business owner in Deer Lodge. I have run the home ranch in the Nevada Creek Valley for 40 years, 23 of those years with my wife Diane.
Why do you want to be a Powell County Commissioner? There are projects in the county that I would like very much to see finished. I love this county, this way of life, and the people of this county.
What are your qualifying experience or skills/strengths? Eighteen years as a Powell County Commissioner has given me the institutional knowledge of actions taken in the past by the commission and whether they are still the best alternatives.
How do you feel about North Powell County zoning laws and development? Personally, I feel it should be a property owner's decision what he does with his property.
As a Commissioner, my personal opinion does not take precedence over the wishes of my constituents. Zoning was voted on in 2004 and a survey conducted in the last year reaffirmed the north end's satisfaction with the zoning laws. As long as it's the majority's will, I will support it from my office.
How can residents best have road maintenance concerns addressed? Minor issues can usually be handled by the road crew employees. If an issue can't be resolved, then I can be called.
What are your ideas to help secure the Ovando and Helmville dumps from out of county use and to have enhanced security with bears? The Powell County Rural Disposal District (PRDD) is a fee district that has a board of directors that sets its rates and manages the disposal sites and the actions of the board. There is one Commissioner assigned to support the PRDD board and answer questions and make sure any actions of the board are legal. However, the Commissioner does not have a voting right on the board. I have not served with that board for many years and am not part of all things about the dumpsites. I know that fencing has proven valuable to control bear vandalism. Securing the sites from out-of-county use is a question of raising fees to pay someone to monitor the sites or install electronic locks with a code or card that each resident would need.
There is an idea that homeowners who live in Powell County less than six months of the year could have a higher property tax to offset the influence of tax breaks for those that hold conservation easements. Is this something you would support? Why or why not? The county has NO CONTROL over property tax assessments. Such an action would require a statewide initiative. My opinion wouldn't matter because it's not in our jurisdiction. I do know that many in the north end that fall in that category are very generous on the local level which is a blessing to the north end citizens.
How do you feel about North County residents (Ovando, Helmville) footing the bill for services in Deer Lodge, such as the ambulance levy? The Powell County Ambulance Service for years was a volunteer organization and was of Great Service to our county. It got to the point there were not enough volunteers or revenue for manning the ambulance or employing nurses or paramedics to do the job and they informed us that they had to increase their revenue or disband. The Commission does NOT have any authority in writing a levy request. An organization decides the amount of money they want to request and whether it be based on a set cash amount or # of mills each year and decide whether it will be a special district or countywide. They chose to run the levy request countywide. It was also suggested if it was run countywide, they should explain to the residents of Helmville-Ovando what services to expect should the residents support the levy. I took it upon myself to bring Dr. Reese, who was the chairman of the ambulance board at the time, to have an open meeting with North end residents, which he did. The notice for the meeting was made public (not many showed up) and Dr. Reese did explain the levy: If it failed, there would be no ambulance services throughout Powell County; if the levy passed, there would be limited services to the North End, including training, and supplies to Quick Response Units. The majority of residents voted to keep the much-needed ambulance service in the county, just as residents pay taxes for schools but who have no children attending them.
What other issues would you like to address if elected and how would you address them? With major changes taking place in the economy, budgeting will be of prime importance. I encourage you to call me with questions and concerns: 406-846-9721 the first, third and last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the month or call me at home in the evenings 406-492-6710.
Biography: My parents Price and Laura Williams purchased a ranch in Ovando in the early 1980s. I have spent a great deal of time here since then and I enjoy the Blackfoot valley, especially the people. We want to preserve the Montana tradition. It's the cowboy way!!
Why do you want to be a Powell County Commissioner? I am running for commissioner to provide another voice for the residents in Powell County. I believe we need a change and now is the time.
What are your qualifying experience or skills/strengths? As far as my experience I have been involved in the county for the last seven years with the Powell County Rural Disposal District board (dump board) as well as the Planning Board of Powell County. This has given me hands-on training for the activities and needs that are in Powell County. As a contractor for many years in Bozeman, I learned there are many challenges and experiences that qualify me to confidently carry out the job of the county commissioner. Listening to the people is a priority in making good decisions and solving problems.
How do you feel about North Powell County Zoning laws and development? The people of Northern Powell County have voiced their opinion and I am fine with their decision of keeping the 160-acre zoning the way it is.
How can residents best have road maintenance concerns addressed? We need to figure out a way to pay our county employees on the road crew a living wage which would cover their basic expenses of gas, food, rent and the current inflation rate. Currently we have one person on the road crew that covers 300 some miles for road maintenance. We need a minimum of two people for this area to cover the basic needs of Northern Powell County's roads.
What are your ideas to help secure the Ovando and Helmville dumps from out-of-county use and to have enhanced security with bears? Try to be nice if you see someone at the dump. Ask questions if you feel you should to find out where they are coming from and let them know that this is for Powell County residents only. Most people are generally nice and will cooperate with the rules.
There is an idea that homeowners who live in Powell County less than six months of the year could have a higher property tax to offset the influence of tax breaks for those that hold conservation easements. Is this something you would support? Why or why not? I'm not sure how this idea would be implemented but I would ask questions, listen and find a solution.
How do you feel about North County residents (Ovando, Helmville) footing the bill for services in Deer Lodge, such as the ambulance levy? I feel like the ambulance levy was not transparent when it was put on the ballot and we need to make sure in the future that the people know what they are voting for. Northern Powell County was not represented well on this measure.
What other issues would you like to address if elected and how would you address them? Some people around the valley would like more affordable housing in the towns in Northern Powell. It would be nice to see if there were ways to develop some smaller lots in town that families could afford. After all we need our next generation to carry on the legacy