Kissack’s Commission Seat Remains Vacant
Troy McKeown (left) speaks with County Commission Administrative Director Robert Palmer (right)
The decision regarding who will replace Clark Kissack on the County Board of Commissioners will go before a district judge.
During their regular meeting yesterday, the commissioners chose not to appoint t Elgin Faber, Troy McKeown, or Jeff Raney — the three candidates vetted by the local GOP — to the Board of Commissioners, following a series of interviews that lasted over 3 hours.
The decision must be made within 20 days from the date the petition is filed and will be randomly assigned to District Court Judges John Perry, Michael “Nick” Deegan, or Thomas Rumpke.
State statutes mandate that any registered member of the local Republican Party can be chosen, which means the decision could very well come from the original 19 commission applicants or the final three candidates who were interviewed Tuesday, Dec. 4.
During the interviewing process, Faber demonstrated that, while he may not have all of the answers to or understand all of the issues surrounding Campbell County at present, he would be willing to learn everything he could about them if he’d been appointed.
In response to a commission question about his experience in tackling energy industry concerns, Faber used his own experience operating his own oil production company, Faber Productions, and those gained from a lifetime of cattle ranching.
Over the course of his career, Faber explained, he has seen swings in the oil market, which once soared from extremes of $100 per barrel down to around $20 per barrel within the course of a year.
His companies and professional pursuits have endured, he added, regardless of a market riddled with ups and downs.
“I’m not afraid of struggle,” Faber said. “ It grows you up,”
Faber firmly believes in saving money when times are good to help the county through times that are bad.
In response to another question, posed by Commissioner Matt Avery, about why he didn’t run for office this past election, Faber said that he, as a resident of Rozet, was already represented well by Avery and didn’t want to compete with him.
“Commissioner, I supported you,” Faber stated, drawing slight chuckles from the audience and the other members of the board.
“[There’s] nothing quite like having a question thrown back in your lap,” Avery responded with a smile.
Troy McKeown’s interview showcased a 27-year career in the U.S. Army, from which he retired as a Lt. Colonel.
While McKeown stated that he supports Gillette College, he demonstrated through his statement that he values trade schools and believes students need to be seeking an education that will allow them to find a job and go to work.
“I just don’t see the value in a liberal arts degree,” McKeown explained.
McKeown stands as a staunch supporter of the Optional One-Percent sales tax. He stated that Wright’s estimated 2,000 residents depend heavily on the tax for maintaining critical infrastructure.
“We have to have it,” McKeown said. “Without it, we will put the Town of Wright in a bad spot.”
Jeff Raney’s interview focused mainly on how he could to avoid overtaxing the residents of Campbell County, explaining that if the county has a surplus that it can move into savings, then it could afford to reduce the taxes levied on the people and local business.
“Taxation is theft,” he stated matter-of-factly. “You’re literally sticking a gun to their heads and telling them to pay it.”
When it comes to Gillette College, Raney firmly believes that tax payers should not be funding its operations, though he did admit that taxes should pay for education, but just K-12.
“Tax payers shouldn’t be on the hook for somebody else’s education,” he said.
Raney, however, had also said that he attended college while he was enlisted in the Army and used tax payer dollars to pay for it, a fact that didn’t escape Avery.
“We’re still back to the tax payer,” Avery said.
“We’re always going to be back to the tax payer,” Raney responded. “I’m always going to be trying to protect them, and you’re always going to be trying to justify taking [their] money and spending it.”
Of the final three candidates, only Elgin Faber was able to sustain a motion to appoint him to the commission, but it ultimately failed in a split decision.
Commissioners Mickey Shober and Matt Avery voted against Faber’s appointment while Commission Chairman Mark Christensen and Commissioner Rusty Bell voted in favor of it.
No motion was made for Raney or for McKeown, and Shober made a motion to have the county attorney’s office file a petition to bring the matter before a district judge. The motion was unanimously approved.
Deputy County Attorney Carol Seeger announced this afternoon that the petition to fill a vacancy has been filed on behalf of the county commissioners.
Christensen in an interview following the decision noted that the discussion was good, with good interviews and that the board had the most confidence in Faber.
“I feel that we have a responsibility, though, to advance it from this point,” Christensen added. “Instead of waiting for a member of the public to file a petition for the next step in the process, I think it is in the board’s best interest to file the petition as the Board of Commissioners represented by the four citizens who sit on it.”