Billings lawyer Bill Cole is now the third announced candidate hoping to replace Mayor Tom Hanel in the city election this fall.
He joins architect Randy Hafer and state legislator Jeff Essmann, both of whom announced their candidacies in the past couple of weeks. Hanel is nearing the end of his second term as mayor, and under the City Charter, the mayor and City Council members are limited to two consecutive terms.
All this interest comes before filing for local elections even begins. People can formally file for office with the Yellowstone County Elections Office starting Thursday. If a primary is needed, it will be Sept. 12, with the General Election on Nov. 7.
In the story we published about the city races on Monday, Cole said he was “leaning strongly” toward a run for mayor. Wednesday afternoon, he sent out an email saying he plans to formally announce his candidacy at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, in the parking lot immediately east of the airport roundabout.
“People I respect have been encouraging me to run for several months,” Cole said in the relwase. “Billings has never been in a better place, but good is not the same as great. We need to build a community that will attract and retain the young people who are our future. I don’t have all the answers, but I look forward to being part of the conversation.”
Cole is the current chairman of the Billings Chamber of Commerce board of directors and former president of the Yellowstone County Planning Board. He has also been spearheading efforts to develop the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site in Swords Rimrock Park on behalf of the chamber.
Cole previously served as president of the Alberta Bair Theater board of directors and president of the Yellowstone Area Bar Association. He serves on the board of directors of Faith Evangelical Church and is active in various other community organizations.
Cole graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia University Law School. He is married to Anne Cole, a professor of developmental education at Montana State University Billings. They have two daughters.
For more information, go to his Bill Cole for Mayor Facebook page.