Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Kate Radford
Contributing Writer 

Rolfe sworn in; brings private sector experience to County Commission

 

January 7, 2021

Courtesy Tom Rolfe

Tom Rolfe

Lewis and Clark County Com-missioner Tom Rolfe was sworn in Dec. 29, 2020 for his first term.

Rolfe, who was elected to the position Susan Good Geise vacated, said he started attending meetings almost two years ago, working to decide if running for County Com-missioner would be a good fit.

"I've been interested in public policy all my life," said Rolfe, who was elected to the Montana Legislature as the Bozeman and Livingston area representative for the 1973-74 term.

"I spent a long time working in the private sector. I come from a family working in small business, the small ranching sector. My private sector experience would be a positive influence in the Commission," said Rolfe.

Rolfe has already begun work preparing for his new position.

"I'm anxious to learn as much as possible. I've been meeting with the staff, trying to understand their role, and trying to get a grasp on what goals there are out there. I've already attended a day long session put on by the Montana Association of Counties to help newly elected officials understand what they can and can't do," he said.

In addition, Rolfe took three days in both 2019 and 2020 to sit through budget meetings.

"That experience helps me to under-stand what we're spending our money on and who the important players are in the issues. I was the only non-county (staff) person to even attend the budget meetings. It really surprised me that there weren't folks from the public that weren't interested enough to come and learn how their county is spending close to $100 million per year," Rolfe said

Rolfe has several key issues he wants to focus on as he moves into the County Commissioner position.

"Mental health awareness is really important to me, suicide prevention, that whole group of issues," said Rolfe. "I'm interested to help the county be efficient, do the job that needs to be done yet keep our taxes down, to be financially responsible. I'm interested in working on all the zoning issues."

When Rolfe was running for office, he attended Government Days in Lincoln and Augusta, and he said he's looking for-ward to that in the future.

The county also has a number of committees that the Commissioners serve on. The committees focus on topics from health is-sues to bridges and roads to emergency preparedness.

"We just went through a process of kinda dividing those areas up, so one of us is responsible for each of those public committees. I specifically asked to have a focus on business relations and mental health issues," said Rolfe.

Rolfe said he hopes to work with the County Pub-lic Works Department to visit all the roads in Lew-

is and Clark County.

"I'd like to have the goal of being on every mile of the roads the county main-tains within the first year so I have a feel for those things. I think there's right around 550 miles of roads the county maintains. If people have thoughts or ideas, concerns about particular areas, I would welcome them to get ahold of me," said Rolfe.

Since his election in November, Rolfe said he's put plans in place to retire from the automobile business to transition into full-time work as a Commissioner.

Rolfe said he was born into the automobile industry.

"My folks had a small auto business in Bozeman plus

a small Hereford ranch. I started out being a janitor in my dad's business, then got into washing cars," said Rolfe.

By college, he worked sell-ing cars for his dad's business. In 1989, he moved to Lewis and Clark County, and began working with Grimes Motors the next year, which eventually became the Helena Auto Center, and then Helena Motors.

"I've always considered myself a problem solver in the past," said Rolfe. "I think my private sector experience has kind of led me to be

a results-oriented person, and so I want to work with the great staff that we have in the county to find good solutions to the problems. I really appreciate the people of Lewis and Clark County giving me this opportunity to help them solve problems."

 

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