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County Attorney’s Out-Of-County Residence In Question In Election

Roosevelt County resident and Northern Plains Independent publisher Darla Downs has filed an affidavit of individual challenging an elector with the Roosevelt County clerk and recorder that claims Roosevelt County Attorney Frank Piocos falsely filed as an elector for the 2022 election.

Downs claims that Piocos, who ran unopposed in the Nov. 8 election, falsely claimed 202 Broadway Ave. Apartment 300 in Culbertson as his residence.

Montana statue states that a person is not eligible for a county office who at the time of election is not an elector of the county in which the duties of the office are to be exercised.

“There are good reasons why the State of Montana requires a county official to be a county elector or resident. You should live in the district or the county that you represent. That’s not an extreme requirement,” Downs said. “We have waited and waited for Mr. Piocos to make the simple move to Roosevelt County prior to the election, and he simply has refused to comply with Montana statue. When he still hadn’t moved to our county on Election Day, it was important to bring this issue to light. I feel his actions were misleading to the voters of Roosevelt County. The position of county attorney plays a vital role in our county, and that individual should follow Montana statue beyond any question. Roosevelt County deserves that respect.”

MCA 1-1-215 contains the rules for determining residence. “Every person has, in law, a residence. In determining the place of residence, the following rules are to be observed: (1) It is the place where a person remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose and to which the person returns in seasons of repose.”

Piocos, who has served as the county attorney since being appointed in February of 2021, wrote in his response to the complaint that he has attempted to get pre-approved for a mortgage with the intent to buy a place in Roosevelt County. He has held a commercial lease, but not a residential lease, at the location in Culbertson.

Piocos writes that residency is not where you sleep, but rather about intent.

“During all relevant times, it was and is my intent to call Roosevelt County my residence,” Piocos wrote.

Downs stated, “The law is clear. Residence is where a person ‘returns in seasons of repose.’ Sleep is the very definition of repose.”

The county attorney’s salary in Roosevelt County is $115,300.88.

Piocos also wrote that if a case about his election is heard in district court, and if the court makes the ruling to have a special election, he would run for the office again. “If I did win the special election, I would remain as Roosevelt County attorney. If a challenger did run and win, I would go on a long vacation, preferably somewhere warm.”

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