By Joseph T. O’Connor Explorebigsky.com Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Three of five seats are up for election on Big Sky’s Resort Tax Board this November. Running for two of these seats are Ginna Hermann, Heather Budd, Robert “Bob” Shanks and Hans Williamson. Dr. Jeff Strickler is running for the final seat unopposed.
Current RTB member Les Loble is stepping down, and Hermann’s and Dr. Strickler’s seats are also up for election. Board members Jamey Kabisch and Mike Scholz will remain on the board until their terms are up in 2015.
Ginna Hermann has served on the RTB for a full term (four years) and is running for a second term, while Dr. Strickler is running for the remainder of his own unexpired term. Strickler tied with Loren Bough in the 2011 RTB elections, and won the seat in a coin toss, which is essentially an appointment, he said, not an election win. Aside from write-in votes, Strickler is the only candidate running for his seat.
Candidates Budd, Shanks and Williamson are each running for the first time.
Ballots will be sent out Oct. 11, and elections are Nov. 5. For more information, visit the Gallatin County Election Office at gallatin.mt.gov, or call (406) 582-3060.
Name: Jeffrey Strickler, M.D.
From: Minneapolis, Minn.
Resident: Big Sky, since 2005
Occupation: Pediatrician; practiced in Helena for 30 years
What I’ll bring to the table: I’d like to continue what we started in my first two years, [including] encouraging the community and supporting emergency services. The most important things we’ve supported are no-brainers: the sheriff’s deputies, the fire department; we finished the sewer bond. Business has been good in Big Sky, so we can support [things like] culture and the arts. We’re looking for game-changing ideas for Big Sky.
Name: Virginia Hermann
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Resident: Big Sky, since 2000
Occupation: Fundraiser, specializing in grant writing
What I’ll bring to the table: I’m an active volunteer in the community and have experience seeing the community change and evolve. As the former president of the Arts Council in Big Sky, I have great experience in creating and preparing proposals – my professional background works well with the resort tax board. We’ve taken a more active role now than in the past few years. Organizations [requesting RTB funds] must provide three- and five-year plans, and if we fund a project, they provide a twice-a-year update on that project.
Name: Heather Budd
From: Toms River, N.J.
Resident: Big Sky, since 1997
Occupation: CPA; Accountant for Highline Partners
What I’ll bring to the table: Being in the Big Sky community for so long, I’m looking to be involved and make a difference. I have a master’s degree in accounting from Montana State University, and the resort tax board is a good fit for me with my financial background. [In Big Sky], we’re just growing and changing so much, it would be really great to be a part of that [growth].
Name: Robert Shanks
From: St. Louis, Mo.
Resident: Big Sky, since January 2013
Occupation: Retired. Was 35-year operating executive for Arch Coal, Inc., a coal company based in St. Louis.
What I’ll bring to the table: With my business background, I have experience operating capital budgets, tracking expenditures to make sure we got what we were after. There are a number of significant issues in Big Sky – [the] need for more affordable housing; [the] consolidation of the ownership of the resorts and how that affects the community; [and a] recent resurgence in construction and development. My wife and I have been coming to Big Sky for three years. We retired and moved here in January, and we’re thrilled we ended up here.
Name: Hans Williamson
From: Avon, Ill.
Resident: Big Sky, since 2010; southwest Montana since 2007
Occupation: Vice-president and General Manager at Yellowstone Club
What I’ll bring to the table: I think it’s important to give back to the community. I’m very passionate about Big Sky and can bring this passion and business acumen [to the resort tax board]. I also really believe it’s important to have collaboration and continuous improvement. Get all the opinions on the table and have public discussions to develop a consensus – this allows a community to grow and improve.