Eidem campaigns against self as candidate for Hardin mayor, will vote for Winburn
Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:51am admin
By Andrew Turck / Big Horn County News
Three people have entered the race for Hardin mayor this year, which is set to be decided Nov. 7 by mail-in ballot. Two candidates, Dallas Eidem and Debbie Winburn, made the July 14 filing and will appear on the ballot. A third candidate, Joe Purcell, will run as a write-in.
According to Hardin’s city code, the duties of a mayor are to preside at city council meetings and vote when the council is divided, appoint all city officers, recommend measures that would be beneficial to the city, examine complaints against the city, and ensure officers deliver “all assets” to their successor upon the expiration of their duties.
Finally, the code states, a mayor is to “Perform all other duties required and necessary for the efficient operation of the business of the city.”
To that end, Dallas Eidem's bio is as follows:
A Hardin Apartments maintenance man is set to appear on the ballot during the election for Hardin mayor, but he does not want residents to vote for him. Rather, candidate Dallas Eidem encourages local residents to vote for fellow candidate and former City Judge Debbie Winburn.
“I’m going to vote for her myself,” he said, “[along with] my wife.”
The purpose of dissuading voters from choosing him, Eidem said, is to avoid splitting the vote and giving the election to Joe Purcell, who he believes has been influenced by Hardin’s City Hall.
At present, Eidem continued, he has not looked into removing his own name from the ballot.
“It’s a bit odd, isn’t it?” he said, laughing. “Hardin does need change, but the Hardin leadership is trying to get Joe Purcell elected. That’s not change. The citizens aren’t really happy with the city, haven’t been for a while.”
Eidem and Winburn have had their own run-ins with city government, both of which required them to seek employment elsewhere.
Eidem was fired from his position as city building inspector in 2014 following an altercation. Winburn was dismissed from her position as city judge in 2015 because Mayor Jack Lane said he found a better replacement. Both actions by the city drew significant criticism from residents.
“I shouldn’t endorse her, because I’m running, but I think she’s the best candidate,” Eidem said. “She can devote the most time to it and she’s the best one to be the mayor of us three.
“He’s too busy to be mayor with a full-time job,” Eidem said of Purcell, who serves as director of nursing for long-term care at Heritage Acres Nursing Home. Winburn, meanwhile, works as a semi-retired paralegal in Billings. “Deb’s got the most time to be mayor of all of us, and she can bring the change the city actually needs.”
Though Eidem doesn’t want to encourage the possibility, if “a miracle” were to happen and he were elected, he would “gladly get in there and stir the pot” to place community residents in charge of the city’s direction. After all, he added, “they pay the bills.”
“I want the city to be frugal in their spending and have a watchful eye because there has been some wasteful spending going on…$20,000 here, $30,000 there,” he said. “If they’re going to ask for more money so that everyone in the city is spending more tax money – water, sewer, property taxes, everything – that’s money [the public] could have spent on leisure.
“Maybe the city needs to tighten their belt, too.”
With extra money, Eidem said, more funding would be available to organize community projects – for example, a roller park. It’s been done recently, he continued, such as when Lewistown, Mont. community organizations banded together to create the Big Skate Park, which opened this August.
“People are coming from all around, coming to restaurants and motels; it’s become a real stimulus there,” he said. “The people got involved; it was the whole town: contractors volunteered and people volunteered…the city and the town, it became a project together. “We could do that, but everybody hates the city. Everybody grumbles at the leadership of the city.”
Even the employees are disgruntled, he added, noting that – as of July 2015 – they joined the Teamsters Union.
Operating as a candidate has been a “spontaneous” experience, according to Eidem. Until recently, he considered attempting to defeat both Purcell and Winburn. After talking with his wife, however, Eidem decided to campaign for Winburn.
“The city’s pretty nervous about one of us getting in there,” he said. “The change would come if Debbie or I won.
“I think Joe’s probably a great guy, but that’s who they want… those knuckleheads in there, they need somebody there to keep an eye on them.”