The three candidates running for Missoula County Sheriff agree on at least one thing -- that they want an end to conflicts within the department.
“People don't always agree. But we can treat each other professionally, work in a professional way and keep in mind that public service and taking care of citizens of Missoula County is our primary function,” said Josh Clark.
“They want to feel like their voices are going to be heard. They want to feel like they have an equal opportunity for hiring for training for promotions and professional development opportunities. And as sheriff I want to ensure that fair play will exist,” said T.J. McDermott.
“There's totally a split. And who's going to bring them back together? It has to be unified, and I think I'm the unifying factor. I have no dog in either fight. I don't take sides, I've never taken sides. I don't care who's right or wrong. It just can't happen again,” said Bob Parcell.
They’re all running as Democrats, but each one of them presents a different set of qualities and experience.
Current Undersheriff Clark says he's worked in every division of the sheriff's office including the jail, and has managed the department's $16 million budget.
“Both as a deputy and as a city officer I've worn many hats. Because we're relatively small agencies and to get the job done, all of the jobs that we have to do, deputies and officers take on a lot of extra roles, specialties, extra duty assignments, and I’ve done those extra duty assignments.”
Detective Sergeant McDermott believes his 18 years of experience as well as his various roles at the sheriff's office set him apart.
“Along the way I've received a lot of training and I've had a lot of experience. In the course of the last 18 years I've helped a variety of people with a variety of problems. It's these interactions, these experiences, along with my training that are going to help make me be a very good sheriff for Missoula County.”
Parcell, who currently serves as the resident deputy in the Seeley-Swan area, says he's "seen it all" in his 30 years of service, and he thinks that will help him lead the sheriff's department.
“I've dealt with every type of crime there is. So I'm basically cognizant of and very well trained in and experienced in everything there is, in law enforcement, in Missoula County.”
Montana is one of 13 states with an open primary where registered voters can vote for one party or the other. In order to weigh in on the Missoula County Sheriff's and Missoula County Attorney's races voters have to pick the Democrat ballot. That means giving up voting for Republicans in the primary for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate races.