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Op Ed: Skinner has served Gallatin County well

After 18 years of service to the residents of Gallatin County, Joe Skinner is retiring this month. We are writing as a bipartisan group of his former colleagues on the County Commission, who served with Joe across his 18 years at Gallatin County. We are/were very fortunate to work and serve Gallatin County with someone of Joe's character, humor, common sense, and humility.

 First and foremost, Joe emphasized to all of us that he wanted to make the Commission office a positive work environment. He didn't expect us to agree with his opinions or conclusions, but he did expect us to be kind and pleasant. His approach set a tone of collegiality and mutual respect, making the most stressful meetings productive. He succeeded in making the Commission office a pleasant work environment. His leadership promoted civility in politics and in the work place. 

 Additionally, Joe was never set in his ways. He always was honest and transparent about his opinions and values. But many times over the years, he changed course after listening to the perspective of someone with a different opinion. He listened to other Commissioners, county staff, consultants, and the public with the same openness and curiosity. If you convinced him to change his mind, he would be quick to tell you so and give you the credit. And if you didn't convince him, he was equally happy to stand his ground – respectfully and confidently. Joe is not threatened by differing perspectives, which is a trait that could not be more important in today's polarized political culture.

 Joe has earned the respect and admiration of Republicans and Democrats, libertarians and independents alike. He is a statesman, a farmer, a family man, a compassionate human being, and a friend. And most importantly for us, he was a great person to go to work with every day.

 We will miss you Joe. You are the Commission historian, and you helped to make the County a great place to work. Your fingerprints are all over our County services and all over our communities. Thanks for 18 great years. Now go enjoy your grandkids, your sweet Jojo, and all of the fun parts of living in Montana that you have passed up while farming and working at the County. You have tolerated enough stress for many lifetimes, and you have left Gallatin County better for your time and efforts. Thank you!


John Vincent

Bill Murdoch

Steve White

Don Seifert

Scott MacFarlane

Zach Brown

(all former and current Gallatin County Commissioners who served with Joe over his 3 terms)