Gibson has been a public servant for over 40 years. He and his wife have been married for 47 years. He has two children and two grandchildren, all in Montana. He served in the Montana legislature for two terms and was chair of the subcommittee for corrections, judiciary, judicial public defender, and the Public Service Commission. He later served as vice chair of appropriations (the main budget committee).
Gibson worked as Administrator of Juvenile Corrections for the State of Montana, supervising more than 200 employees statewide with a budget of up to $20 million. He also worked as superintendent of Pine Hills, the male juvenile correctional facility in Miles
City. He’s been a correctional officer, a juvenile parole officer, a social worker, and a supervisor for juvenile parole for Child Protective Services.
Some of his professional credentials include:
• Executive Board Member, Juvenile Correctional Administrators of America
• Board of Governors, American Correctional Association
• Standards Commission, American Correctional Association
• Governors K-12 Education Renewal Commission
• Montana Mental Health Advisory Board
• State Special Education Advisory Committee
• Montana Youth Justice Council
• Montana Mental Health Planning Committee
• East Helena School Foundation
After retiring to Stevensville about four years ago, he was appointed to the Stevensville Town Council in August 2019 and served through December 2019 as Council President. He wasn’t able to run at that time because the filing period had already closed.
“Being an elected official before, I recognized that my employers are the citizens of Stevensville,” said Gibson. “Not just the special interest groups, but all the citizens. I see the role of mayor as to manage the budget that is approved by the council, that is fiscally responsible and does not spend more than the existing revenue and not rely on one-time money to fund things on a continuing basis. Basically, we just have to have a budget that’s balanced and does not spend more than we take in.
“As mayor, it would be my responsibility to manage the budget and supervise staff, but I would allow them to serve the residents of Stevensville. I see the role of the mayor as kind of like the executive branch and the council as the legislative branch. It’s the council’s role to approve any resolutions, major spending, staff hiring, it’s a combination. I really don’t see myself if I were in that position as being a tie-break vote unless it was an emergency. Again, I think that’s up to the council.
“I do have concerns about infrastructure, specifically. In the time I’ve been here, there’s been growth, and there will be more growth, hopefully responsible growth. I’m concerned about all the water issues, and I don’t want to see an increase in fees which in my opinion are taxes, and I don’t want to see the costs of that growth, including public safety, to be placed on the backs of current residents.”
When asked who would pay for improved infrastructure if not the taxpayers, Gibson said he didn’t think the town had applied for a Treasure State Endowment grant to fund infrastructure improvements and now they will have to wait another two years to apply. He said there will also be more money available through Covid relief funds.
He said the former public works director has stated that the town doesn’t have the water capacity for any more growth, with Twin Creeks, affordable housing, and more things in the works. He said that who pays for these improvements just hasn’t been addressed.
“As an elected official, you need to listen to people more. As a public official, I would encourage public participation rather than limit their ability to speak openly and honestly. It’s the mayor’s role to manage and make recommendations but it’s up to the council, after they hear the public input, to make those decisions. I’m not going to say the council’s bad, but sometimes the roles get reversed.”
Gibson said he was not involved in the most recent mayoral recall attempt. He said he hadn’t seen it. In fact, Gibson says he was not involved in the previous recall election either, except he did support it because of his concern as council president over the contract issue.
“The mayor makes the recommendation but the council makes the decision. Sometimes it appears it’s the opposite. The decision is made and then the council is asked to approve it. Which puts them in a bad position, too, in my opinion.”
Gibson says he hopes to run his campaign in a way that people can focus on the issues, “not the personalities. The two times I was elected to the legislature, I never even used my opponent’s name.”
He really wants to emphasize that, to him, the most important thing is the public participation. “You’re not always going to agree but you have to run the meetings in an orderly manner and focus on the topic. I think it’s up to the presiding officer, the mayor, to control that in the sense that if someone were to go on and on, you need to bring them back to task. But to arbitrarily limit people’s input, well, you work for the people, that is your employer, you represent your constituents. I think there needs to be more listening to concerns and ideas and less talk.”
Gibson has plans to start raising campaign funds. He says he will have signs and perhaps mailers. He plans to go to every voter’s door in town. He encourages people to call or email him with questions, ideas or concerns, “even if they want to yell at me.” He can be contacted at 406-439-2203; email@example.com.