By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
Pondera County Sheriff Tom Kuka is a quiet guy who usually flies under the radar.
Maybe that was why it came as a surprise, that many didn’t see, that when he announced he was not running for re-election, he wasn’t retiring, he was just shifting gears.
The 54-year-old law enforcement officer for the county is in the running for the county commissioner seat, on the Republican ticket, held by Joe Christiaens who is not seeking re-election.
Kuka was born in Conrad and raised in Valier where he went through their school system, graduating from Valier High School.
Kuka has been to Basic Law enforcement school, had DARE training, taken criminal investigation courses, been to Coroner School, and many other law enforcement classes.
He has been a deputy, Chief Deputy, Under Sheriff, and Sheriff, covering a span of 31 years.
The Sheriff was first elected to office in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and 2010. Asked why he was running for a new office, Kuka said, “I want to continue to serve Pondera County in a different position while using all my years of experience.”
He is a member of St. Francis Parish in Valier, the rifle club, and rolls a mean ball in the Wednesday night Mixed Bowling League.
When he has time, he likes to go hunting, fishing, camping, gopher hunting, work on his farm-ranch, go golfing and watch the Redskins and Bobcats play football.
But he says, “My most special times are with my wife Linda, married for 35 years, my kids and spoiling my grandchildren.”
He is a fan of Audio Books and likes anything by authors John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson. His favorite TV programs are Frazier andLaw & Order: SVU.
Asked about his qualifications to be your next commissioner, Kuka said, “I have 10 years of hands-on experience with budgets and working with the public for over 30 years (10 years as Sheriff).”He went on to add, “I like to tackle problems head-on and use my administrative skills.”
He says his strength is his ability to look at all problems and come to the best solutions. I listen to all sides before reaching a conclusion.”
Admittedly his weakness is, “my grandchildren.”
Does he see any changes as a commissioner? “To be the best at what we do we must be willing to explore changes,” Kuka says. He does not foresee any changes. “No specific ideas come to mind at this time until I have had further experience in his position.”
“Pondera County is a wonderful place to live,” he says, “And as in every county, there are issues to be addressed. These issues have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
In closing, Kuka commented, “I have lived in Pondera County all my life, raised a family, served you as deputy and sheriff, and I want to continue as your county commissioner.”