Sheriff's candidates field questions at press panel


MISSOULA, Mont. - All three Democrats in the race for Missoula County Sheriff say the hotly-contested race that's seen accusations of discrimination and divisions in the department will not affect their ability to lead after voting day.

Candidates T.J. McDermott, Josh Clark, and Bob Parcell made the comments Thursday afternoon in response to a question at a candidates forum organized by the Missoula Press Club.

The candidates fielded questions from a panel of reporters from NBC Montana, ABC-Fox, KPAX, and the Missoulian.

Several questions were related to an ongoing investigation into the Missoula County Sheriff's Office by the Human Rights Bureau, after several complaints were filed by McDermott alleging discrimination at the department.

Clark, currently Missoula County undersheriff, defended the department, saying with a staff of more than 200 people, complaints are inevitable.

Parcell used the question the distance himself from McDermott and Clark, saying he was the only candidate not involved in the infighting.

The primary election will be held June 3.

The Missoula Press Club is hosting a similar forum on Thursday, May 15, featuring both candidates vying to replace Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg.

The forum will be held at 12 p.m. at the Missoula Public Library, and is open to the public.