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Ravalli County Commissioners Vote Unanimously Not to Reappoint Chairperson after “Drunken Indians” Comment

ravalli county commissioners
Photo courtesy of NBC Montana footage of hearing

Ravalli County Planning Board Chairman Jan Wisniewski will not be reappointed to his position after a unanimous vote on Thursday, January 2 by county commissioners.

“We have an opening in the Darby School district area that was up for appointment,” said Ravalli County Commissioner Chairman Greg Chilcott. “A motion was made by a member of the commission to reopen that vacancy and take applications for another thirty days and see what we get in the end.”

Commissioner Ron Stolz made the motion to reopen the vacancy, but the news has been a long time coming. Back in November, the commissioners drafted a formal apology to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CKST) for “public statements” that may have “caused offense.”

The statements alluded to in the letter were by Wisniewski and alluded to possible problems in local jails because of “drunken Indians.” The statements were made during a meeting between the commissioners and the members of the CKST tribes.

“This was just beyond what is acceptable,” said County Commissioner Suzy Foss at the time. “My heart was breaking. I was fighting tears, I was very upset and angry.”

Chilcott said that Wisniewski has not yet made a public statement or apology about the issue.

“I think there are some unanswered questions,” Chilcott said when asked why he voted to reopen the vacancy. “We have not heard a response from Jan Wisniewski as to his living by statements that were made. We just wanted to give him a chance to respond on the record as to what his intent was.”

Chilcott also made clear that he thought that Wisniewski had done a good job in running the planning board.

“[He ran] good meetings, efficient meetings and very fair meetings,” Chilcott said. “I think It’s fair to say the board was more than satisfied with his performance as a planning board member.”

Individuals interested in the Darby planning board opening can find more information on the Ravalli County Commissioners website.


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