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Candidates will be asked several questions between now and the Primary Election. They will all be asked the same questions and printed exactly as they are submitted, unedited. 

Question #1:  Why are you running for this office?

Kevin J Braun

Residence: I was born at Fallon Medical Complex (wasn’t quite that technical back than) and raised five miles east of Baker along with four sisters and 1 brother. Currently I reside on the family farm, homesteaded by my Grandfather in 1908, purchased from him by my Father, and purchased by me from my brother and sisters. Vested one hundred percent in Fallon County. I plan on being here until I die whether it is tomorrow or thirty years from now. 

Education: Graduated 8th grade from Fertile Prairie Country School (Thanks Nikki Verke you’re my Fav), 4 years Baker High School, one year college, 20 years oilfield construction, 55 years Farming and Ranching. 

Family: Son: Austin Braun

Current job or position: Successful farmer and rancher and successful construction company.

Related experience: In 20 years of oilfield construction I became familiar with and operated all types of construction equipment. Fallon County Road Dept uses these same pieces of equipment to maintain roads, plow snow, fix culverts, haul gravel, and mow roads. The understanding of costs, maintenance, rents, and how are all part of my back ground. I started as a grunt, working my way up to running crews. Seeing just about everything under the sun when it comes to worker issues.

Along that line I was elected for 20 years on the board of a multi hundred-million-dollar asset company and served as president for three years. During my tenure, the Company went from 90 employees to 170. Doesn’t seem like much but the understanding of Human Resources is a must. Unbelievable what can and actually happens. Being educated by the company’s HR’s on proper handling of personnel was required by our Board. Great experience. I like to think most of us know the right answer with out training but still a good practice to follow. Budget, Budget, and Budget. Handling millions of dollars each year. Our Boards main responsibility was where the money was needed the most. Positions to add or delete. Money for Emergencies. Construction. Pensions. Vehicles. Raises. Health insurance. etc. etc. etc. We dedicated several months every year to budgeting. I feel it is a MUST to completely understand budgeting inside and out to be an effective Fallon County Commissioner. Anyone want to talk Farming and Ranching?

Why are you running for this office? Everyone seems to have their own goals or agendas. There is a lot of money at stake and everyone has or wants a hand in the coffer. There needs to be a Commissioner who’s only goal is to work hard for the voters of Fallon County and do what is right for the County as a whole.

Sandra N. Kinsey

Residence: Baker, MT

Education: Graduated from Columbus School of Nursing and College of Great Falls – currently – University of Providence receiving a Nursing Degree.

Family: Husband, Jack D. Kinsey; four children, Marshall Kimo Kinsey; Christobel (Chris) Steinbeisser (husband Larry); J.K. Kinsey; Kelly Kinsey (wife Stacy); five grandchildren Britney Kinsey Olson, Myka and Will Steinbeisser, Sloan and Briggs Kinsey: two great grandchildren Maddie and Ryder Olson

Current job or position: Retired

Related experience:

1. Past member of the Governor’s Task Force on health issues for the State of Montana.

2. Elected member of the Fallon County Study Commission mandated by the Legislature in 2016.

3. Re-established Public Health Department in 1975. Provided Service and Health needs for all Fallon County residents. Fallon County did not have any Public Health services for at least 15 years previous to my action.

4. Established School Health Program for all schools in Fallon County.

5. Member of the Mental Health board for Eastern Montana for three years.

6. Member of the Fallon County Health Board

7. Member of the Fallon Medical Complex Hospital Board

Why are you running for this office? I feel there is a place for me on the Board of County Commissioners because I will bring professional leadership skills in epidemic and pandemic situations like we are currently experiencing. I support a stronger Mental Health Care program in Fallon County and affordable and available healthcare. I support fiscal responsibility including decreased spending to lower taxes for Fallon County residents. I feel we are in need of better communication between the many boards within Fallon County, County Employees and most of all better communication between the Board of Commissioners and the people of Fallon County and would like to help lead the way in accomplishing these and many other tasks.

Justin Klauzer

Residence: 510 Wyoming Avenue, Baker

Education: 2000 graduate of Baker High School

Family: Wife Danica, two daughters (Lilly Jean 11 years old, Kollie Mae 8 months)

Current job: Crawford’s Construction

Related experience: In politics zero, but through growing up with sports and in the oilfield I have a lifetime of experience in teamwork. 

Why are you running for this office? Fallon County is a place I hold dearly. From growing up here, sledding down tank hill, swimming at the lake, dragging main with friends, to being a Spartan; competing for state titles in wrestling, being a part of the ‘99 State title football team. I’ve always had an immense amount of pride about where I come from. I don’t think Fallon County needs a lot of growth or improvement but some. When you see the old concrete truck driving down the road and his mixer tank is rolling the concrete, it will stay fresh as long as you keep it rotating forward, but once it stops moving forward, it gets hard and it becomes stuck to the tank. We have to stay sharp and continue moving forward with all of our ideas as one.

Brian O’Connor

Residence: P.O. Box 361, Baker, MT

Education: High School Graduate

Family: son, Chad Nielsen; son, Bryant O’Connor; and daughter, Brittney O’Connor.

Current Job: Manager of B&B Septic Service and I own and operate my farm/ranch.

Related Experience: I have 30+ years working in the oilfield, managing a business and my own farm and ranch. I feel this is great experience to be a County Commissioner working with and for the people of Fallon County.

Why are you running for this office? I am running for County Commissioner because it has always been a dream of mine, I deal with a wide variety of people on a day to day basis in my current job, while making business decisions there and for my farm and ranch operation. This would give me the chance to meet new people, gain more experience and take on a wide range of new challenges. 

JoDee Pratt 

Residence: Baker, MT 

Education: Graduated from Baker High School in 1971. I then went to college in Rapid City. SD at the National College of Business. 

Family: After I went to college, I met and married Jerry Pratt in 1974. We made our home in Baker where we raised our two daughters, Jennefer (Greg) Wheeler and Johnna (Darin) Koenig. Jerry worked in many aspects of the oilfield from drilling all the way to surface work. He worked for Griffith Excavating for approximately 29 years, until his death in 2012. I worked many different jobs, from waitressing at the local cafes, owning a house cleaning business and working as a crossing guard at Washington Elementary School. This allowed me to volunteer and be active in my daughters young lives. In 1991, I started at Quality Transportation as a dispatcher. I worked there until my retirement in the fall of 2012. Both, Jerry and I, lead by example and instilled in our daughters the pride we have in Our hometown. We know that success comes from involvement and hardwork. Our family has always been active in many aspects of our great commiinity. We currently are involved in Baker’s city government, in the local oilfields and agriculture, the recreation department, the hospital and the schools. 

Current job or position: I am currently the Mayor for the City of Baker. I was appointed to this position in 2016 and have continued to hold this position. I am an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, am currently serving on the County Health Task Force, along with numerous other boards. 

Related experience: Prior to accepting the mayor appointment, I served on the city council, as a council alderman for 20+ years. During this time, I was nominated to serve as council chair for the majority of my tenure. I have also been an active part and have volunteered for multiple organizations throughout the community over the last 50 years. 

Why are you running for this office? I am passionate about our county and city and am proud to be a part of this unique community. My experience with our city government has kept me involved with county business over the last 25 years. With this experience, brings a touch of history that will help when decisions need to be made for the growth and longevity of Fallon County. 

Melissa “Missy” Thielen

Residence: 211 Burnt Station Rd., Plevna, MT

Education: Associate in Science – Drafting Degree

Family: Husband, Bobby; children, Whitney, Wyatt and Wiley. 

Current job or position:  Rancher, wife, mother and Design Drafter.

Related experience: My related experience includes positions as Plevna Rural Fire Board Member, Plevna Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief and Chief. Through these positions I gained knowledge in the structure and operations of Boards.

Why are you running for this office? I am running for Fallon County Commissioner because I feel our county needs an individual who listens to both sides of a situation before a decision is made.  I also feel our county needs someone to hold county employees, attorneys, boards, individuals hired by the county, etc. accountable for their positions and actions.

Bill Wyrick

Residence: 4050 Highway 7, Baker

Education: High School, with two years college.

Family: Married to Debbie, grown children Kalli & Duncan.

Current job or position: Retired from oilfield, 37 years, own a cow-calf operation. Own/operate a commercial spraying and mowing business.

Related experience: Controlled million dollar budgets and supervised employees and contractors in the Cabin Creek Oilfield as a Production Foreman for 12 years. Owner of a small business which I have operated for 27 years. I have been on several boards over the years which include Fallon County Federal Credit Union, Little Beaver Conservation District and Fallon County Weed Board

Why are you running for this office? Fallon County and City of Baker have major decisions to make in the next couple of years and I feel I would be an asset in assisting in those decisions.

Steven P. Zachmann

Residence: 602 Wyoming Ave., Baker, MT

Education: Graduate Baker High School, two years of Business Management at National College of Business and Dickinson State College, attained Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow, & Fraternal Insurance Counselor Fellow designations, 

Family: Wife, Karol and three children, Desiree Bondley, Maranda Hastig and Travis Zachmann, seven grandchildren

Current job or position: Carpenter/contractor, City Council Alderman, Eastern Montana Economic Development Authority (EMEDA) Commissioner 

Related experience:  

CITY COUNCIL ALDERMAN. I serve as Baker City Council Alderman working with limited budgets, planning and working on water, sewer and street infrastructure issues. The latter involves combining numerous points of view, input from the community and options to work through to reach a needed solution that is financially palatable to the community.  

LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS. I attended a Legislative Taxation Committee Hearing in Helena before which the oil and gas producing counties and cities (incl. Fallon Co. & Baker) appeared to address the negative impacts of recent administrative and tax distribution decisions. I also testified at a Legislative Committee hearing on the benefits and drawbacks of Tax Increment Financing in small communities.  Previously, I worked through the MT Assoc. of Life Underwriters (MTALU) with the Insurance Commissioner’s Office on Consumer Protection issues.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR OVER 20 YEARS. I served on two economic development boards, SMART and EMEDA, as we purchased and upgraded a building into business spaces, developed an apartment complex business, from startup into a private enterprise and currently work on child care solutions, now in the pre architectural review stage

PLANNING AND LIBRARY BOARDS. I served on the Planning Board twice and on the Library Board, which required both study of regulations and listening to the public.

CONTRACTING: I’ve worked as a carpenter and contractor most of my life, working with people throughout the county on homes and buildings, following what my father, Paul, modeled: To listen first, talk last and strive to deliver quality.

PROJECT SUPERINTENDENT. I worked with the Fallon County Commission as Project Superintendent for High Tech Construction and Dick Anderson Construction on the FC Dispatch and FC Sheriff’s Office addition and remodel projects. I coordinated material supply and subcontractors, providing a link between the Commissioners, architects and contractor and working through the various stages of construction. This required adhering to plans & specifications while working out changes and additions to the scope of work, pulling all parties together to work out solutions.

DESIGN/SELECTION COMMITTEES. I served on Baker High School’s Longfellow School Gym addition and Schillinger Stadium design committee, listening to the school administration, teachers, school board and public’s ideas and wants, giving input into design. This included selecting one among multiple contractors for the most qualified firm to hire for the projects. 

VOLUNTEER LEADERSHIP. I served the offices in the Knights of Columbus from the local level through the State Treasurer, State Secretary and State Deputy positions, each for two years, collaborating on charitable works with volunteers throughout a wide range of needs and interests throughout the state. In that capacity, I met with Legislators in Helena on charitable, religious freedom and life affirming issues.

INSURANCE KNOWLEDGE. I worked 6 1/2 years in the life and health insurance business as a Field Agent for the Knights of Columbus in Eastern Montana.  Within that time, I served as President of the Eastern Montana Association of Life Underwriters, instituting a continuing education program as a member benefit so that agents could get required CE credits locally and taught multiple insurance classes. I also served as a representative to the Mt ALU, meeting with legislators in Helena to work on updating insurance consumer protection regulations.

PRIVATE/ PUBLIC COLABORATION. I have worked as a volunteer to organize, manage and build, with a good number of people, some nice Fallon County amenities to benefit the area:  The Millennium Project Sidewalk (3/4ths of which was a volunteer project) around the lake, the Roger Schmidt Amphitheater and the original clubhouse for the Fallon County Shooting Range which was moved from the old site to the new one west of Baker. Collaboration between private, charitable and governmental groups can succeed in providing desired recreational facilities at reasonable cost through generous donations of time, talent and goods by businesses and individuals committed to a vision.

Why are you running for this office? TO ADDRESS PENDING IMPACTS AND LONG RANGE PLANNING. I will be a faithful representative of the people of Fallon County, bringing my method of reviewing issues from all points of view and the effects while balancing that with the research and study of pertinent regulations and history to deliver the best decisions for the county. I think my calm, deliberative demeanor and my ability to stay focused on the overall good will serve our county well as we move into these coming years of pipeline construction, outside influence and pandemic recovery in the short term. My desire to take the long view in planning toward the future will help me to serve the people of Fallon County well.