Montana County Commississioner Conviced of Sexual Assault With a Minor, Political Shakeup Puts Local Government in Jeopordy
Last week, 52 year old Robert Pierce was found guilty of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault after a girl told her mother she was assaulted by Pierce when she was between the ages of nine and eleven.
The sexual assault is horrible enough, but Pierce also happens to be a county commissioner for Anaconda-Deerlodge. Now that Pierce has been convicted of a felony and subsequently removed from his commissionership, the county government has been thrown into turmoil.
"We have to have four commissioners for a quorum," explained Anaconda-Deerlodge CEO Connie Ternes-Daniels. It's not a simple majority; we have to have four, and that's all we have. So right now, in the event that something were to happen to one of our other commissioners, in effect, the government would be shut down. That is a problem. So its very important that that position is filled and filled quickly."
Even though the law stipulates that, in the case of a commissioner being removed, that the seat should be filled by whoever was runner up in the most recent election, Pierce ran unopposed. Now, the remaining county commissioners must select a new interim commissioner after looking through submissions from the public. But they can't even do that until they ask for submissions via a public meeting.
The public meeting and subsequent notices should be sent out to the public notifying them of the search for an interim commissioner this week.
Pierce's term is scheduled to end in 2014, so whomever wins the interim position will be required to run again in a general election in 2014 to maintain the office.