Two political newcomers will be joining the Miles City Council in January, as Kenneth Gardner won in Ward 1 and Sheena Martin won in Ward 2 in Tuesday’s city election.
They will replace incumbents Bill Melnik in Ward 1 and John Uden in Ward 2, both longtime councilmen.
City Judge Al Homme, Ward 3 Councilman John Hollowell and Ward 4 Councilman Dwayne Andrews ran unopposed.
Overall, 1073 voters (21.9 percent) turned out at the polls.
For Ward 1, turnout was 24.4 percent, Ward 2 was 27.8 percent, Ward 3 was 19.7 percent and Ward 4 was 14.5 percent.
Custer County Election Administrator Linda Corbett said the turnout was a little low but “not bad” for a city election.
Gardner came in with 95 votes, compared to Michelle Simpson with 79 and incumbent Bill Melnik with 31.
Wednesday morning Gardner said, “I’m thrilled, I’m honored and astonished” about winning.
Gardner is originally from Terry and had worked as a geologist and in quality control for a manufacturer. He worked as a counselor and social worker at Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility before retiring two years ago.
He is anxious to begin work on the dike because “the issue is so huge.”
“I think a new perspective on this and new ideas can move us forward,” he said.
He is “very grateful” to the voters of Ward 1. He said campaigning for the seat “was an eye-opening experience,” once he saw how “genuinely concerned” people are about the changes they want to see.
In Ward 2, Martin had 262 votes, compared to incumbent John Uden’s 141. Thirty-five people voted for Shirley Kapitzke, who had dropped out of the race but was still on the ballot.
Originally from Hawaii, Martin is a realtor and is in her third year as president of the Eastern Montana Board of Realtors. She also has experience in finance.
Wednesday morning she said she had received good feedback while running for the seat.
“I felt really good about it through the entire campaign,” she said.
“I’m really excited to move Miles City in a more positive direction. I’m hoping that my influence with my constituents will help move the city in that direction,” she said.
Corbett said the election process went smoothly.
While federal election results are tallied with the auto-mark machine, city elections are tallied by hand with the lower turnout and smaller cost.
This election, instead of waiting until the polls close to count ballots, the ballots were collected and counted in the afternoon as well as after the polls closed.
Corbett believes this sped up the process by an hour or two.
“It was a good team effort,” she said of the people working to make the election process go smoothly.