Helena has first new mayor in 44 years

Published 8:11 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Helena Council member Hal "Hewy" Woodman waits for the results of the Oct. 9 Helena mayoral runoff election to be posted at the Helena Community Center. (Reporter photo/Amy Jones)

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HELENA — For the first time in 44 years, Helena voters chose to make a change in the mayor’s seat, electing Mark Hall, the city’s former police chief, over incumbent Sonny Penhale in the Oct. 9 runoff election.

Penhale had been Helena’s mayor since 1968. Hall served as the Helena police chief from 2000-2004.

Hall won with 63 percent of the vote, or 2,087 votes to Penhale’s 1,234.

Hall said he was thrilled to win but stressed that the election is over and it’s time for Helena to unite.

“We have a lot of great things going on in Helena that we want to keep going,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to feel they’re not a part of what we’re doing here. No matter how you voted, Helena is one. This part’s over now. We can come together.

“We’re ready to get to work,” Hall added.

Joy Childers, Penhale’s assistant, said the incumbent was “doing fine.”

“He wished Mark Hall all the best — he called him to congratulate him,” Childers said. “He’ll do a really great job.”

The Helena City Council will be made up of Leigh Hulsey in the Place 1 seat, Mike Jones representing Place 2, Cris Nelson in the Place 3 seat, Leslie Bartlett in the Place 4 seat and Hal “Hewy” Woodman representing Place 5.