During candidate forums in Ronan and Polson earlier this month, six candidates from races within Lake County shared their views with more than 100 people.
Attending the Ronan were: Caroline McDonald and incumbent Gale Decker, seeking the Lake County Commissioner position; Eldena Bear Don’t Walk and Joe Read for State Representative of District 93; Susan Evans for State Representative of District 12; and Ashley Morigeau and incumbent Deborah “Kim” Christopher for the Judicial 20th District Judge.
The same group, as well as District 12 incumbent Greg Hertz, spoke at the Polson forum.
Caroline McDonald, of Polson, is vying for the Lake County Commissioner position as a Democrat.
She attended U.C. Berkeley, where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts of Philosophy, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
Her platform includes building successful partnerships, in an effort to work with various backgrounds and political beliefs. If elected, some of McDonald’s goals include working to restore the Lake County density map from advisory to regulatory and creating a collaborative environment.
Over the last 16 years, McDonald has worked as a community and economic development consultant. She has assisted nonprofits and local governments design, plan and find creative funding solutions for complex community projects.
She’s also worked for a nonprofit housing developer and civil engineer preparing grant proposals, administration and strategic planning for various community development projects. Since 2013, McDonald has been a Polson School Board trustee, with three years as board chair.
In her spare time, McDonald enjoys reading mysteries and science fiction novels, as well as volunteer in the community. She has been married to her husband, Rob, for 18 years. Together they have two sons; Joe and Kai, and furbaby Winston, a beagle.
Lake County Commissioner incumbent Gale Decker, a Republican, is seeking reelection.
Decker, of Ronan, earned his Bachelor’s of Arts and Master’s of Arts in education from the University of Montana.
His platform includes a long-term solution to the loss of property tax due to properties in Lake County being exempted, working on the costs of Public Law 280 to be shared with the Federal and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes governments or working to have Lake County obtain the ability to withdraw from the agreement, and a plan to keep Flathead Lake and all waters in Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation free of invasive mussels.
Serving as a commissioner full time, Decker previously served as Lake County Superintendent of Schools for six years prior to 2011. In his career, he taught middle school math in the Ronan Public Schools for 33 years. Decker also coached girls’ and boys’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, and boys’ and girls’ track. He currently volunteers with the Ronan Cross Country, basketball and track programs.
When he’s not in the office or volunteering, Decker enjoys reading his favorite subject: Montana History. He is also a recreational runner/jogger.
In his free time, Decker keeps busy with his wife, Susie, and his five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Ashley Morigeau, of Polson, is running for 20th Judicial District Court Judge, which covers both Lake and Sanders Counties.
She obtained her undergraduate degrees at West Virginia University, along with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience. Morigeau graduated cum laude as a University Honors Scholar.
Morigeau attended The Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana for her Juris Doctorate, along with an added certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law.
Her platform consists of expanding local use of treatment courts. “Treatment courts hold people accountable for their actions while creating solutions that work,” Morigeau stated, noting that engaging those people that are in the criminal justice system with chemical dependency and mental health services, “repeat offenders are reduced,” reducing costs for taxpayers.
Currently, Morigeau is a public defender in the Polson office of the State Public Defender, where she interned during the summers of 2008 and 2009. She’s practiced there since passing the bar exam in 2010.
Morigeau lives in Polson with husband Josh Morigeau with their two cats, Goblin and Bailey.
Her hobbies include running, gardening, and Yoga, as well as cheering on the West Virginia Moutaineers and Montana Grizzlies in football and basketball. Morigeau also holds a concealed weapons permit and tries to get to target practice when she can.
Incumbent Deborah “Kim” Christopher, of Polson has been the 20th Judicial District Judge since 2000.
She attended the University of Montana where she obtained a Bachelor’s of Art in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on diplomacy, history and philosophy, graduating with honors. Christopher then attended the University of Montana School of Law for her Juris Doctorate, as well as the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia, both in 1988.
Christopher’s platform includes utilizing her experience to create bridges between different agencies, peoples and legal structures.
While on the bench, Christopher has served as President of the Montana Judges’ Association. Prior to being a judge, she was a private attorney and appointed defense council. Christopher also served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and as a Captain. She also received her wings at U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Christopher’s hobbies include baking and eating chocolate chip cookie dough, but also baking cinnamon and caramel rolls, reading, sewing and attending Yoga classes with friends.
Her family includes sons Remington and Isaac, as well as “son” Nick, daughter-in-law Lisa and their four kids; and father Dick Christopher. Christopher’s mother, Keenie, passed away in 2008.
More candidate information will be in the Nov. 1 issue of The Leader. Any candidates in a contested race that wishes to submit their bio can do so by Friday, Oct. 26.