Dan Huls files for commission

Ravalli County Election Supervisor Sandy Tatsuhara helps county commission candidate, Dan Huls, finish up the paperwork needed to file for 2020 election just after 9 a.m. Thursday. Huls is seeking the position now held by Chris Hoffman. Hoffman announced Thursday that he will not seek another term.

A change is coming for the Ravalli County Commission.

Commissioner Chris Hoffman announced Thursday that he would not seek a third term.

Hoffman, the current commission chair, has one year left in his term. His seat is the only commission seat open for election this year.

Thursday was the first day that county and state candidates could file.

Fourth-generation Bitterroot native Dan Huls didn't waste any time. Shortly after 9 a.m., he officially became a candidate for the commission.

Huls and his family own and operate Huls Dairy, located northeast of Corvallis. Huls is a Corvallis High School graduate and studied agriculture at Northern Montana College before purchasing farmland to begin his agricultural career.

Huls currently serves on several boards, including the Teller Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, Mountain West Cooperative, the Corvallis Canal and Water Company and Humble Drain. He is a founding member of the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board, which, under his leadership, pushed for the passage of the $10 million Ravalli County Open Lands Bond.

He served on the Ravalli County Planning Board for a decade, including several stints as its president. Huls is currently an advisory committee member for the Western Montana Agricultural Research Center and has served on various statewide committees regarding agriculture.

Huls is also the past president and board member of the Montana State Motorcycle Racing Association.

Huls and his wife, Joan, have two sons and two grandchildren who live in Ravalli County.

“This is something that’s been on my list for quite some time,” Huls said. “When I found out that Chris wasn’t going to do that, it seemed like now is the time.”

Huls said his many experiences with county government, coupled with the fact that he’s a multigenerational native who has been involved with agriculture, help him understand the challenges residents face on a variety of county-wide issues.

“I think there are a lot of issues that I think that I can contribute to and make a difference,” Huls said.

Hoffman, who is also Bitterroot native, started his public safety career in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1984 before moving back home five years later to Corvallis, where he was hired by Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz. Hoffman also served with the Hamilton Police Department for 10 years before being elected sheriff in 2002.

After 14 years as sheriff, Hoffman ran for a seat on the county commission. At the end of his term, he will have served two two-year terms in that position.

Hoffman said the current board works together well.

“While we are a diverse group, we are united in our dedication to serve our community,” Hoffman said. “The board is very stable and is focused on issues that are important for the valley’s future.”

Hoffman said he feels blessed for the opportunity to serve the Bitterroot Valley for the past 30 years.

“It is very humbling to have had the support and trust of this community, particularly being allowed to serve both as sheriff and as a member of the board of county commissioners,” Hoffman said. “I will be forever grateful to my neighbors for the incredibly rewarding career that I’ve enjoyed here.”

Hoffman said he’s looking forward to exploring opportunities that the future might hold.

Huls was second in line at the Ravalli County elections office. Clerk of Court incumbent Paige Trautwein was first through the door shortly after 9 a.m.

The commission's District 2 seat and clerk of court are the only two Ravalli County positions that will be on the 2020 ballot.

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Several Ravalli County candidates filed Thursday for state legislative races, including some that opened after current legislators came up against term limits.

They include:

• Nancy Ballance, Theresa Manzella and Scott Roy McLean, all of Hamilton, filed for Senate District 44. The position is currently held by Sen. Fred Thomas.

• Hollis Poe filed for House District 85. The position is currently held by Manzella.

• Incumbent David Bedey filed for House District 86.

• Ron Marshall filed for House District 87. The position is currently held by Ballance.

• Incumbent Sharon Greef filed for House District 88.

All filed as Republicans.

The Ravalli County Election Office is recruiting electors to serve on the election judge teams at polling places for both the June 2 primary election and the Nov. 3 general election.

Election judges are responsible for greeting voters as they come into the polling place, directing them to the correct precinct and issuing ballots, along with many other activities happening at the polls on election day. Poll hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is a required two- to three-hour training that will be held the week of March 10.

Election judges must be registered to vote in Ravalli County. Judges will receive $9 per hour for their time. Anyone interested can call the county election office at 375-6550.