While many races were nip-and-tuck throughout the night, one that wasn’t was that of Lewis and Clark County Sheriff/Coroner – which was led start to finish by incumbent Leo Dutton.
The Sheriff will start his new combined duties in January, and does so after having pulled in, to this point, 68 percent of the vote with roughly 70 percent of Lewis and Clark County counted. Challenger Jay Nelson finished with 32 percent.
The Sheriff ran his campaign on the successes and relationships that have been made in the community over his decade in office – the highlight of which has been the passage of both a bond and a levy to renovate the Law Enforcement Center. This will bring the outdated jail up to code and increase capacity, and also is allowing the Helena Police Department and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department to relocate to a new office building downtown.
He appreciated Nelson running, but the race got a bit more personal and a bit more nasty than Dutton would have liked.
For his part, Nelson said he learned a lot through the process and was proud of his campaign.
The son of longtime county coroner Mickey Nelson, Nelson has said that the problem of drugs in our community is something that hasn’t been dealt with effectively enough, and that crime is skyrocketing as a result. He’s also criticized the amount of time it’s taken to make the changes and moves as they relate to the Law Enforcement Center.