Voters put Laurel city employee in top job

Outlook managing editor

Dave Waggoner


Now that the dust has settled, there are a few ruffled feathers and undoubtedly some frustration over the outcome of Tuesday’s election by several candidates who were disappointed with the results.



Dave Waggoner was elected mayor over Tom Nelson by a six-point margin. Waggoner garnered 845 votes while Nelson got 725. Waggoner is replacing Mark Mace who was elected in 2013 and decided against running for reelection. 

“The next mayor needs to step up and be on top of city business,” Waggoner said during an October interview.

Waggoner has been a water treatment plant operator in Laurel for 10 years. Because of his employment with the city, he said he had “an insight on how the city’s being run and I don’t agree with it.”

For starters, the new mayor would like to institute a street program, replacing a minimum number of streets yearly, “curb-to-curb,” taking care of the water and sewer lines beneath them at the same time. He also plans to hold staff accountable, revitalize Riverside Park and generate funds through city services. Waggoner would also like to see more money for maintenance and people in top city jobs be required to live in Laurel.

Ward 1

Newcomer Heidi Sparks beat out incumbent Doug Poehls and first-time candidate Evan Bruce to win the Ward 1 seat on the city council. Sparks has lived in Laurel for 10 years.

“I think change is good,” Sparks said in July. “Laurel is a great community but there is opportunity for improvement.” She questioned whether the city makes the best use of taxpayer money, citing basic infrastructure, road conditions and the water intake.

Sparks received 101 votes to Poelhs’ 90 and Bruce’s 85.


Ward II

In Ward II, Bruce McGee will retain his seat. He had no opposition and received 313 votes.


Ward III

Irv Wilke defeated Kat Stokes in a close race. Wilke received 287 votes to Stokes’ 271. He has lived in Laurel for 26 years and has deep roots as a sportsman in Montana, taking hunters education in 1958.

“It was the second year it was mandatory in Montana, so I guess that dates me,” Wilke said in an August interview. He has now been teaching hunters education and bow hunters education to Laurel kids for the past 18 years.


Ward IV

Leaving their council seats are Nelson, who failed in his bid to get the mayoral gavel; Chuck Dickerson, who elected not to run again after a long tenure representing Ward III; and Poehls who was defeated in Ward I. 

According to Laurel’s city code, the council must fill the Ward IV seat being vacated by Nelson within 30 days of the vacancy. No one filed as a candidate for the seat so the position is subject to nomination and election by the council. The electee will retain the seat for the remainder of the term. All those elected Tuesday have a four-year commitment to the city. There are eight council seats with half decided every two years. The council seats held by Emily Eaton, Richard Herr, Scot Stokes and Bill Mountsier will be determined by the 2019 municipal election.

The newly elected councilors will take their oath of office on January 2, before Judge Jean Kerr, who reran for her position as city judge unopposed. 


Upcoming Events

  • Sunday, November 19, 2017 - 10:00am
    Sundays, 10 a.m. (closed), 8 p.m. (open), 201 1/2 E. Main St., nonsmoking
  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 10:00am
    Mondays, 10 a.m., Thursdays, 1 p.m., Laurel Senior Center, 720 S. 4th St.
  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 10:00am
    Third Monday, 10 am., LDS Church
  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 11:00am
    First & third Mondays, 11 a.m., Laurel Public Library
  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1:00pm
    Mondays & Fridays, 1 p.m., Laurel Senior Center, 720 S. 4th St.
  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 1:30pm
    Al-Anon, Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St.


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