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Commissioner Kanenwisher to resign at end of June

By Michael Howell

Matt Kanenwisher, Chairman of the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners, announced at a Republican Party Central Committee meeting last week his intention to submit his resignation around the end of June. He told the Bitterroot Star that it was primarily to pursue his career as an emergency cardiac nurse.

Kanenwisher said that when he ran for office he thought he would be able to work on weekends to keep his medical skills up to date and his license current.

“But I simply haven’t been able to do that,” he said. “You make the best plans you can, but things don’t always work out the way you thought.”

In a prepared statement Kanenwisher makes it clear that he is not submitting his resignation yet, but is announcing his intention to submit his resignation near the end of June. He said that he is announcing it early due to considerations such as party nominations and processes for seating a replacement.

“This job of being a county commissioner is largely what you make of it and I felt that it required all of my energy and time,” writes Kanenwisher. “Unfortunately this has placed me in a difficult financial and career position. I am sure that many families in the Bitterroot share and fully understand the challenges we face.”

“I am appreciative of the opportunity to serve the people of Ravalli County. I do not now have, nor have I ever had any political ambition. I saw a very specific need and opportunity to make a difference in a positive way. While I may not have achieved all of my objectives, I have done my best,” he wrote.

He goes on to say that the county’s “most pressing needs” are “administrative and management skill and integrity.”

“I can’t emphasize enough the critical condition of county finances,” he states. He blames it on the unbridled spending of previous administrations. He states that integrity “means more than simply not lying. It means doing your job even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular. Ignoring the truth is just as harmful as denying it.”

County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg said “assuming he did turn in a resignation in June” it would be too late for placing anything on the primary ballot. She said the process would be that any political party could nominate a candidate for the November ballot so long as they submit it 75 days prior to the date of the election. She said any independent candidate could submit a petition with the required number of signatures and also be placed on the ballot. This petition would also have to be presented to her office at least 75 days prior to the election.

Plettenberg said that as far as what takes place in the meantime, if and how a temporary appointment is made is being researched by the county attorney’s office.

Terry Nelson, Chairman of the Republican Central Committee, said that his understanding of the process was that the Republican Party would submit the names of three candidates to the Commissioners for appointment as a replacement until the November election. If the commissioners are not satisfied with any of the nominations another three names would be submitted and the commissioners would appoint a replacement from all six candidates.

County Attorney Bill Fulbright said on Friday that he was aware of the Republican Central Committee’s interpretation of how the process would work but his office was researching the issue.

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