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Candidates answer question two weeks before ballot count begins

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With Election Day less than two weeks away, the Valley Journal wraps up its coverage with brief profiles of three uncontested local races: District Judge James Manley, who is running unopposed for another six-year term; Republican Greg Hertz, who is running unopposed for Senate District 6, the seat currently held by Sen. Al Olszewski; and Marvin Weatherwax Jr., an incumbent Democrat running unopposed for House District 15. 

20th Judicial District

James A. Manley, a self-described “country lawyer,” is the lone candidate for another six-year term with the 20th Judicial District Court, which oversees Lake and Sanders County. Manley was first appointed to the post in 2013 by Gov. Steve Bullock to replace retiring Judge C.B. McNeil. He was elected by voters in 2014 for a six-year term that expires Dec. 31. 

The Vietnam War veteran earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Montana in 1973 and his law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., in 1978.

He began his career as a deputy county attorney for Lake County, a post he held for a year before entering private practice. He also served as city attorney for the communities of St. Ignatius and Hot Springs. 

Manley, named Montana’s Trial Attorney of the Year in 2009, was nearing retirement when first appointed to the bench seven years ago. In his 2013 application to Montana’s Judicial Nomination Commission, he wrote, “If the commission and governor believe I am the best-qualified applicant, I should practice what I have preached, and it is time for me to give back to the community and the profession that have been good to me and my family.”

Manley helped create one of Montana’s first adult drug courts in 2017. The innovative alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders takes a team approach to helping people with addiction issues to rebuild their lives. 

Senate District 6 

Speaker of the House of Representatives Greg Hertz faces no opponents in his quest to fill the seat currently held by Sen. Al Olszewski. Term limits will force an end to his six-year tenure in the House of Representatives (from 2013-’19). The influential Republican was elected Speaker of the House in 2019 and holds that post until his current term expires Jan. 3, 2021. 

The fifth generation Montanan is a lifelong resident of the state, having attended schools in Polson and graduated from Ronan High School in 1976. He earned a degree in business administration from the University of Montana and, after passing the Certified Public Accounting exam, worked for accounting firms in Kalispell and Billings.

Hertz returned to Polson in 1983 and started his own accounting practice. He was hired as controller of Moody’s Market Inc. in Polson, eventually becoming its majority owner and president/CEO. Moody’s Market currently operates grocery stores in Polson, Ronan, Lolo, Thompson Falls, Lakeside and St. Maries, ID.

“As a business owner who employs nearly 225 hard-working people, I know what it takes to create jobs,” Hertz writes on his website. He also emphasizes his opposition to tax increases, the need to balance a clean environment with responsible natural resource development and his support for a well-funded public education system with ample local control. 

The candidate and his wife, Kate, have three grown children and four grandchildren. Learn more at gregoryhertz.com.

House District 15

Democrat Marvin Weatherwax Jr., a member of the Montana House of Representatives since 2019, is running unopposed for a second term. He represents a sprawling district that encompasses the Blackfeet Reservation, including Browning and Heart Butte, and portions of the Flathead Reservation, including Pablo, Ronan and Arlee.  

During his first term, he served on the following House committees: Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Natural Resources and State Administration.

Weatherwax, who lives in Browning, earned an associate’s degree in computer science from Blackfeet Community College and served as procurement director for the Blackfeet Tribe before becoming program coordinator for the Blackfeet Veteran’s Alliance in 2005. 

When he ran for office in 2018, he told the Independent Record that a lack of access to basic services in remote areas, including internet and cell-phone coverage, was a key concern affecting Native and non-Natives alike.

“In our area, we’re kind of stuck in a corner. We have the Canadian border at our north, and we have the mountains to our west and it means we don’t get the services like everyone else does,” Weatherwax told the IR. “Let’s try to change that. I just want to do my best and try to help my community.”

 

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