The next general election is, thankfully, nearly two years away. But a Bitterroot Valley man with an impressive list of accomplishments and a wide range of interests has already put his name in the hat for Ravalli County commissioner.
Kevin Schreier, archaeologist, anthropologist, geologist, ex-logger, wild river advocate and former college professor, has announced his candidacy for the North Valley county commissioner seat held by Democrat Jack Atthowe.
Schreier, a Republican, is the only candidate to emerge at this early stage in the next election cycle.
Not even Atthowe, in his fifth year of his second term, has indicated whether he plans to run for re-election, though the chances that he will are remote. In the weeks leading up to the November 2000 election, and immediately following, Atthowe, who will be 77 next month, hinted strongly that he might resign for health reasons.
Though he has suffered a variety of ailments in the past few months, Atthowe also hoped that his resignation would lead to the appointment of another Democrat to fill out his unexpired term. That would give the Democratic appointee a running start in 2002—something any Democratic contender needs in the conservative Bitterroot Valley.
A similar type of political gamesmanship occurred several years ago in Ravalli County when a Republican legislator resigned the day after he was elected to the state Senate. The Republican Central Committee promptly replaced him with another Republican legislator who had been elected to the House in the same election. That left another Republican House seat to be filled by the Republican Central Committee.
Local Democrats were enraged at what they saw as a devious manipulation of the political process. Atthowe’s possible resignation would have evened the political score, but lately Atthowe has hinted he may serve out his term after all.
Schreier is Ravalli County’s grants administrator, fire finance officer (a job that came into being following last summer’s fires) and purchasing agent. He holds degrees in various sciences, and has worked for the Forest Service as an archeologist. He’s helped write numerous Forest Service environmental impact statements and analyses. He’s worked as a logger, and has been involved in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. Aside from his current employment, Schreier also works on several environmental projects on the Oregon coast.
If elected, Schreier says he’ll bring a reasoned, scientific mind to the job, and put an end to the popularity contest that the job of county commissioner has always been and continues to be.
“Primarily where I’m coming from,” he says, “is that decisions need to be based on scientific analysis and merit, not on whether someone likes someone.”