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Mark Wicks, Inverness Rancher, Seeks GOP Nod For Hill Commissioner

Inverness rancher Mark Wicks is running for a seat on the Hill County Commission.

Wicks is the only Republican so far to declare that he is seeking the position. Incumbent Democrat Mike Wendland of Rudyard said he hasn’t made up his mind about seeking another six-year term.

Wicks said he believes it’s time for new ideas on the commission. The county should begin to build up its infrastructure. High on his list: addressing the poor condition of county roads.

Wicks, a Unites State Postal Service contractor, works a mail route. But when it rains, he said, the roads are impassable and he cannot deliver mail. He wants to study the privatization of some county services to cut costs.

He is running to represent District 1, the western part of Hill County. While the commissioner must reside in District 1, voters throughout the county cast ballots in the race. Wicks said his ranch is just about as far northwest as you can get and still be in Hill County.

If Wicks wins, it will mark the first time in memory that Republicans have taken control of the three-member commission. It would largely be a symbolic victory for the GOP since commission votes rarely follow party lines.

Democrat Mark Peterson and Republican Diane McLean are holdover members of the commission.

Wicks has been active politically for some time. In 2017, he ran as the Libertarian candidate for Congress in a special election. He finished third behind the winner, Greg Gianforte, and Democrat Rob Quist. Wicks garnered 5.7 percent of the vote, the highest percentage any Montana Libertarian has ever received in a statewide race.

He ran for the Montana Public Service Commission in 2018 in the sprawling Great Falls-to-Plentywood district. He finished third in the Republican primary behind former state Rep. Randy Pinocci of Great Falls and State Rep. Rob Cook of Shelby.

Democrats, on the other hand, have been quiet about their plans.

Hill County Democratic Chair Jacob Bachmeier said, “I don’t have any updates to share at this time.”

Candidates have until March 9 to file with the Hill County Clerk and Recorder. The primary is June 2, and the general election is Nov. 3.

Write to John Kelleher at [email protected]

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