Council candidate seeks to serve with her husband

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor
Kat Stokes

Kat Stokes wants to join her husband Scot on the Laurel City Council to represent Ward 3, but not just because there is power in numbers. She doesn’t always agree with her spouse, so electing a second Stokes won’t guarantee two yes or two no votes on any given issue.
“I’m not afraid to voice an opinion different than my husband,” she said last week. “In fact, I’m very different from my husband.”
Stokes is also decidedly outspoken about her adopted home of Laurel. There are many aspects of living here she loves. Most of what she doesn’t care for she thinks can be fixed through the cooperation of like-minded citizens.
“Everyone here always says, ‘if you don’t like it, get involved,”’ Stokes said. “I’ve been pushed away in the past when I’ve tried to take on an issue, so I’m going to approach it from a different direction.”
The 45-year-old is used to challenges. She is the mother of four boys between the ages of 14 and 22. That alone could be difficult, as anyone with children is aware, but one of her sons was injured in a vehicle accident and although he lives on his own needs extra support.
Stokes grew up on a truck farm in Glasgow and moved to Billings in 1985. She made the move to Laurel in 1998, and married Scot in 2010. It was truly a memorable wedding.
“We got married in the back yard five minutes after midnight,” she said. “Jean Kerr performed the ceremony.” The bride wore a scarlet red dress and the groom was decked out in his family tartan. “It was fun and beautiful,” she said.
Stokes recently started a new online business, Pearls With 2 Girls. She sells oysters guaranteed to have a pearl in them during shows she broadcasts from home. Her husband helps out with the shucking.
“It’s kind of gross,” she said in response to a question about whether the oysters are edible. They are not.
Stokes is seeking the open Ward 3 seat on the city council because of a number of specific issues. She has tried working with the city in the past and found the experiences unproductive and frustrating.
“Laurel is a family and they need to start sticking up for each other,” she said. “I don’t think one single person is the answer but if we get together we can find solutions.” There is a lack of clear communication to the councilors and the information is filtered and untimely, she said. Stokes is concerned that the best interests of the city are not being protected while the needs of some taxpayers are ignored.
Because Scot’s mother recently died from the effects of chemotherapy, the couple was gone during the council’s vote on a variance to allow a medical marijuana dispensary. Stokes called to get information about it and was shocked by how rudely she was spoken to by a city representative.
“I’m not angry about the actual issue, but about the way I was treated,” she said. “People aren’t paying attention to the needs of taxpayers.”
Many of the city’s issues are obvious, Stokes said. Folks just needs to look around.
“There are so many in poverty here and there are people working for the city who have obscene salaries,” she said, adding that it is difficult to understand the challenges residents face without living in Laurel.
Stokes hopes that whoever is elected will work on infrastructure issues and take care with city finances. “Just because you can buy something doesn’t mean you should.” She believes street maintenance, building healthy finances and having pride in the history of the community while looking towards the future is vital. “Nothing is impossible,” she said. “After all, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.”

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