Feb 5, 2014 2:27 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Candidates entering Ravalli County races

HAMILTON - It's shaping up to a "barn burner" of a year in Ravalli County politics, with all of the incumbents already filing for re-election, and a number of challengers already throwing their hats in the ring.

With a host of issues from Legacy Ranch, to the Family Planning Clinic closure driving interest, it hasn't taken long for races to already develop for the three county commissioner seats on the ballot this year.

Ron Stoltz and Suzy Foss, elected during the GOP landslide of 2010 will face their first test at the polls, along with Jeff Burrows - who was appointed partway through Matt Kanenwisher's term.

As of Tuesday, Stoltz is unopposed in his bid to retain the District 1 seat. However, both Burrows and Foss are already facing opponents. Foss has drawn a Republican challenger in Darby native Doug Schallenberger, a well-known rancher. That creates a Republican runoff in the June Primary.

Burrows will face a Democratic challenger. Clint Burson of Hamilton, a copyeditor and page designer at the Ravalli Republic, is running for the District 4 seat. A political newcomer, Burson moved to the Bitterroot from Colorado seven years ago.

The other contest that may even overwhelm the commissioners' races for public interest is the showdown for Ravalli County Treasurer. Incumbent Valerie Stamey had already filed for election to the post she was appointed to last fall before the showdown over the county's financial crisis began, leading to her being placed on administrative leave.

Long-time former Treasurer and Democrat Mary Kay Browning and Justice Court Administrator Jennifer Ray, a Republican, have also filed for the seat.

Meanwhile, two other incumbents are already moving to get voter's approval for a new term. County Attorney Bill Fulbright - first elected to the Attorney-Auditor' seat as a Republican - has already filed. And veteran Sheriff Chris Hoffman is also seeking another term as the Bitterroot's "top cop".

The filing period runs until March 10.

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