Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey says the recall he survived this week "sheds light on what has become a dark political climate" in the Bitterroot town.
But he's eager to move on and start the healing. Dewey survived the recall with 52% support, the first mayor to do so in the town's long history.
”Only two mayors out of 34 have faced recall in this community," Dewey said. "One resigned before it even hit the ballot and then mine. And I didn't resign, was successful in not being recalled. I think that's an important piece of what Stevensville has been through in terms of its, you know, political turmoil over the last several decades.”
But even for Stevensville, this has been a rough year. Dewey has called the situation one of "noise, mess and doubt," characterizing his opponents today as "a posse of detractors."
But Dewey says he doesn't see his victory as a reboot but instead a chance to learn from mistakes.
“I'm not interested in doing a clean slate over and over and over again," Dewey said. "I think that we really need to take these experiences and learn from them and make that part of our history and maybe as we move forward, let's not let history repeat itself.”
When asked what he hopes happens as a result of dealing with this particular contingent going forward, Dewey said, “You know, I don't have a definitive answer to that, because to a degree those folks have been slightly unpredictable through this whole experience in terms of what lengths they'll go to to see me removed from office. I guess I hope that everyone just takes a step back, including those people and says, you know, why would the failure of the mayor's office be good for our community.”
Dewey also added, “I don't expect them to like me overnight or to even agree with me on many things. But if we could harness that energy and put it into something positive for our neighbors and the people we have to live with after elections I think we'd be in a lot better position.”
And Dewey is pledging to move Stevensville forward on projects that have been on hold because of the recall, and the pandemic.
“We're really hoping over the next year that we can accelerate a few initiatives and some really good work that to a degree I put on the back-burner or got kind of, you know, pushed back because of the recall and coronavirus contributed to that as well," he said.
Dewey will be up for re-election next year and says he hasn't decided whether to seek another term.