Ronneberg wins narrow sheriff race; Connolly and Tronrud on November ballot for Justice of the Peace 

Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor
Wednesday, June 6, 2018


By the narrowest of margins, Alan Ronneberg defeated Joe Hensely for the Sweet Grass County Sheriff position in the June 5 primary election.

Ronneberg garnered 677 votes to Hensely’s 667 late Tuesday night, as the 10-vote swing fell in the current-undersheriff’s favor. Ronneberg will be the only name on the November ticket, barring a write-in campaign between now and the fall general election. 

As far as a recount goes, Hensely is not eligible to declare a recount under Montana code 13-16-201. A candidate must have a margin of loss less than .5 percent to declare such, and Hensley margin as it currently sits is .74 percent. 

The county has 27 provisional ballots — those are voters who requested an absentee ballot, but then voted on Tuesday, had invalid ID at the polls, etc. — to resolve before June 11 at 3 p.m. After that, the county has until June 19 to meet with election commission boards to finalize the winners of each race. Candidates eligible to declare a recount have five days after June 19 to declare such. 

In the race for Sweet Grass County Justice of the Peace, incumbent Jessie Connolly came away with the most votes (724) while current sheriff Dan Tronrud posted the second-highest total at 674. The two bested Kevin McCauley, who received 61 votes. Connolly and Tronrud will be the two names on the ticket to chose from in the November election. 

At the national level, Matt Rosendale edged out three other candidates in the U.S. Senator race with 51,546 votes to Russ Fagg’s 43,225. Fagg bested his competitors in Sweet Grass County. Fagg received 483 votes, while Rosendale garnered 350 and Downing, 297. Albert Olszewski had 11 percent of the county votes with 141 as well. 

Rosendale will run against Democratic incumbent John Tester in November.

In the U.S. Representative race, Kathleen Williams will be on the ticket to run against incumbent Greg Gianforte in November. Williams narrowly edged out John Heenan — one of her five other competitors— in a 37,144 to 35,154 vote race. Heenan received 83 votes in Sweet Grass County, leading the six-candidate race. 

At the state level, David Howard bested Andrew Forcier 94 votes to 36 in the state senator District 29 race. Howard will be up against Democrat Elizabeth “Betsy” Scanlin in November. 

Of the 2,389 active voters in Sweet Grass County, 1,581 of them (66 percent) got out to vote Tuesday. There were 808 absentee votes casted. Precinct 3 had the best voter turnout, with 73 percent coming to the polls. Precinct 5 was the lowest with 58 percent. 

In 2016, 60 percent of active voters made it to the polls.

For full election results, visit