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Two newcomers vying for Yellowstone County commission seat

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Posted at 4:28 PM, Jun 03, 2024

BILLINGS - Two Billings Republicans are running for the Yellowstone County commissioner seat currently held by Don Jones.

John Staley and Mike Waters are looking to replace Jones, who is not seeking re-election. The winner will serve a six-year term.

Staley, a longtime fire chief, said he decided to run in an effort to increase public safety and communication. He said he hopes to gather public input when making decisions, even stating that he would like to change the time these meetings are held. Currently, they are at 9:30 a.m.

Staley

Staley added that he would like to see the number of county commissioners increased to better represent the growing population in the city of Billings.

"The fire chief is probably one of the least political positions you could have," Staley said. "I have to listen to everybody regardless of your politics, regardless of your beliefs or your morals. I have to make the best decision for the people of my community and I've been doing that for my whole career. This is just going to be an extension of that."

Mike Waters

Waters, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, said he was also running with public safety in mind, but said he'd support keeping the board of commissioners at three members. He added that he would be reluctant to support any tax increase, while trying to consider the families and seniors living in his community on his mind.

"I'm the solid conservative Republican here. I don't want to grow your government. I want to be the right commissioner. I don't want to add more commissioners. I want to focus our budget on paying guards at the jail, putting gas in patrol cars and reducing crime to make sure that we're moving forward effectively," Waters said.

No Democrats are running for the seat, so the winner of the primary will likely be the next commissioner.

Voting opens on Tuesday and can be done at local polling places in Yellowstone County. Mail-in ballots must be returned to the courthouse to be counted in time.