Tornow drops out of Whitefish judge race

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Longtime Whitefish attorney Thomas Tornow announced Thursday he is withdrawing his candidacy for Whitefish municipal judge.

Tornow said in a press statement that “it has become apparent to me that winning this race will cost more money than I am willing to ask people to pay.”

The Nov. 7 election to replace retiring Municipal Judge Bradley Johnson drew an unusual amount of interest early in the filing period, with William Hileman Jr. and Kristi Curtis also vying for the four-year judge term.

Tornow, who has served as a substitute municipal judge, was the first to file for the position. He has 37 years of experience as a lawyer, law professor and businessman.

“I was running because I wanted to make Whitefish the best it can be, and to make the Whitefish Municipal Court better,” Tornow said in a press release. “I have been going door-to-door meeting the residents of Whitefish and have knocked on 1,400 doors to date. It has been a wonderful experience. People have been very welcoming and I have enjoyed seeing the different neighborhoods and talking to the Whitefish residents. It has reinforced my opinion that it is the people that make Whitefish so special.

Tornow said he remains committed to volunteering and serving the community.

Curtis serves as Whitefish’s deputy city attorney. She has more than 30 years of law experience and was a partner in a law firm in California before moving to Whitefish in 2000. She served as the prosecutor for the city of Kalispell from 2006 until joining the Whitefish city staff in 2015, handling prosecution for the city of Whitefish.

Hileman is a partner in the law firm Trieweiler, Hedman, Hileman and Lacosta, and has been practicing law since graduating from the University of Montana in 1977. He has spent the last year serving as substitute judge for the city of Columbia Falls.

Current Municipal Judge Bradley Johnson was first elected city judge in 1985 and later was elected municipal judge when the city changed to a municipal court system in 2009. He is retiring at the end of his term this year.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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