Written by Devon Boen
Hoping to unseat incumbent Gary Macdonald for the Roosevelt County District 2 Commissioner seat in the Nov. 6 election are Denver Atkinson Sr. and Wade Creighton.
Denver Atkinson Sr. has lived in Poplar all his life and actively participates in the community he calls home.
The 59-year-old candidate for the district 2 seat of the Roosevelt County Commission previously worked for the Fort Peck Tribes as the director of the tribal employment rights office and is now involved in construction work for the Fort Peck Community College.
Atkinson said he raised five children and is also a founding father of the Fort Peck Community College.
In conjunction with his background, he is a major proponent of education and has been a member of the Poplar School board for nine years. If elected, he hopes to bring his community-oriented attitude to the county and implement improvements.
Atkinson said he would focus on reducing crime in the county, increasing economic development and creating programs to help with unemployment and alcohol and drug addiction. He also said he wanted to give the City of Poplar a voice since he believes it is currently underrepresented in the county.
When asked how he would accomplish these goals, he said he thought the decision-makers would have to ban together and get motivated to make changes, and he would do whatever necessary to make it a reality.
Atkinson said everybody would need to help everybody in order for positive change to occur.
When asked why he was a more qualified candidate than his opponents, he pointed to his experience with highway construction, housing construction, oil field issues and employment-related issues.
Atkinson believed his background has laid a good foundation to serve Roosevelt County and said those who know him acknowledge he is a fair and firm person.
This year, current presiding officer for the Roosevelt County Commission Gary Macdonald has two opponents vying for his district 2 seat, but he hopes his experience will speak for itself and allow him to hold the seat once more.
Macdonald was born and raised in Poplar and, outside of living in Billings for several years, has resided in Roosevelt County.
Career-wise, Macdonald is an accountant, but he has a long history of working in local government. He has sat on the commissioners’ board for 14 years and is proud of several accomplishments made during his time served.
Macdonald said he was the driving force behind building the senior center in Wolf Point and coordinated the complex effort needed to make the structure a reality. He said at the time the Fort Peck Community College was interested in the same land they planned to use for the senior center, so he persuaded the other commissioners to agree to have a different plot of land cleaned up and restored for the college’s needs.
He also said he was heavily involved in implementing cross-deputization in the county, and pushed to bring in the Basin Electric Plant along with fellow commissioner Jim Shanks.
Macdonald hopes to be re-elected in order to continue on his current projects and create new ones.
“I do have a goal, as everyone knows, of getting a senior center built in Poplar. I’m not going to let that one go,” Macdonald said. “And I want to benefit and help Roosevelt County in any way that my experience will allow me to do.”
Macdonald has also been involved in the community by assisting with youth sports, acting as a member of multiple state and local boards, including the Great Northern Development board, and is the president of the Montana Association of Reservation Counties. He also is an enrolled tribal member and takes pride in his work connecting the county and the Fort Peck Tribes.
Macdonald hopes his veteran status as a commissioner will help him secure the position again.
“I know the budget process and everything about the county and how the state operates,” Macdonald said. “I just love my job.”
Wade Creighton already holds a position of service for the community working as a sheriff’s deputy for Roosevelt County and he is now hoping to secure the district 2 seat on the county commission.
After graduating from Wolf Point High School in 1990 and attending Colorado Christian University, Creighton had multiple jobs in the realm of civil service including an 18-year stint in the military and working as a career counselor for the National Guard.
Besides his time in the military, Creighton said he lived the rest of his life in Roosevelt County and has been heavily involved in the community. He said he has assisted the Fort Peck Youth Sports Association, served on a parish council and the Wolf Point School board and coached youth sports teams.
He is also an enrolled tribal member and a husband of 20 years, with four children and one grandchild.
When asked what issues he would focus on if elected, Creighton said he wanted to address the crime rate in the area and ensure Roosevelt County Emergency Services were equipped to deal with the increasing criminal and gang activity.
Creighton also said he wanted to focus on all the implications of the oil boom and planned to take steps to prepare the county for any changes including an influx in the population.
In terms of growth and development, Creighton said he would work to create more senior housing in Roosevelt County and would like to have a new fire hall in Wolf Point and Poplar needs in general.
As a newcomer, Creighton acknowledged he would have to educate himself on county issues and learn from the other commissioners.
He said he planned to improve ties between county and tribal leaders and would make a presence at tribal executive board meetings in order to stay up-to-date on their issues and concerns.
When asked how his experience as a deputy would affect his work as a commissioner, Creighton said he believed it would be a huge advantage since he is directly involved with all aspects of the public.
“I get to see what’s going on firsthand,” Creighton said.