By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
If one is good, then four must be great. That’s the number of candidates that are vying for the county sheriff’s position.
The latest to join the race is 40-year-old Shannon Gabbard, who resides in Valier.
Although he was born in Michigan, Coldwater, Gabbard has spent most of his life in the Big Sky Country.
He has been a deputy with the PCSO for 12 years, and before that he worked at Crossroads Correctional Facility and was a hired hand with the Ninemile Ranger District. He is a high school graduate, and also a graduate of the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.
Gabbard was a volunteer fire fighter for the Frenchtown Rural Fire District for four years and the Valier Fire Department, also for four years. He spent four years with the Valier ambulance crew as well.
He helps coach Little League and referees for the AYSO soccer in Valier and is a member of the Valier soccer program.
He tells the I-O, “I love to hunt big game, any outdoor activity, and to spend quality time with my family.” He went on to say, “I follow my children in their sports activities, and a little know fact about me, is I like to cook.”
He is also a big fan of the Detroit Tigers and the Michigan Wolverines.
His favorite book is No Angel by Jay Dobyns. “It’s a biography about an undercover ATF agent that infiltrates the Hells Angels.” As far as TV goes, “I like to follow baseball and college basketball and Montana Grizzly football.”
This is not his first run at an elected position. He was first appointed as Alderman for Ward 2 in Valier, then ran unopposed during the following election and then ran again in 2013 for the same position and lost.
Gabbard decided to run for the Sheriff’s position because, “Pondera County of 2014 is not the same place that it was 20 years ago. The number of violent and drug-related crimes in our county is growing, and the time has come for a change to protect not only the communities of our county, but also our families and our future generations.”
The last 20 years of Gabbard’s life have been spent doing some sort of public service.
Asked about his qualifications that make him the best deputy for the job, they range from being a firefighter to deputy sheriff to alderman. “My experiences have taught me how to interact with the public and handle their concerns,” he says.
“I have been through K-9 handler training, which taught me to be more patient and disciplined,” he said. He went on to add, “I also teach DARE, which is very rewarding to me, I have learned how to work alongside parents but also with the younger generations in our communities.”
As for his strengths, Gabbard notes, “I can interact with the public and listen to their concerns, criticisms, and ideas. I am open to and welcome suggestions, and I enjoy working and interacting with the citizens of Pondera County. I welcome opportunities to further my training as a law enforcement officer.”
Looking at his weakness, the deputy says, “Although I welcome criticism, I sometimes have a hard time finding the positive aspect, but with my 12 years as a deputy, and the time spent as Alderman, I am learning that not all criticism is negative. Instead, it is an opportunity for personal growth.”
Looking at changes within the office, Gabbard says, “I would like to update our current departmental policies to keep up with the ever-changing challenges of today.”
He feels it is important that all members be offered every training opportunity available to encourage the development of a pro-active department for the citizens of Pondera County.
“By developing a working relationship with communities, schools, and law enforcement, I would like to take a more pro-active stand on the drug issue that our youth and communities face today, starting with education and progressing into enforcement.
I would like the PCSO to have a more positive role and be more active in our communities,” he said.
He and his wife Renee (Christiaens) Gabbard have three children: one daughter and two sons.