Columbia Falls has gained new representation in the Montana Legislature following an Oct. 23 decision by the Flathead County Commissioners, who appointed Debo Powers of Polebridge to the vacant legislative seat in House District 3, created by Rep. Zac Perry’s resignation on Sept. 1.
The vote was unanimous, and occurred within the timeframe set out in Montana law, according to the Flathead Democratic Party.
“The Flathead Democratic Party congratulates Ms. Powers as well as the communities of Columbia Falls, the North Fork and the Canyon, for again having a representative in the Montana Legislature,” according to a press release.
Lynn Stanley, chair of the Flathead Democrats, expressed thanks to Gene Marcille and Jill Rocksund, who also came forward.
“Their participation in this process made it meaningful and possible,” Stanley said.
The development came after Perry announced in September he is resigning his position to attend graduate school.
Although voters will elect a new candidate in 2020, Powers will serve as interim Democratic representative until the end of Perry’s term in January 2021.
The Flathead Democratic Committee compiled a list of candidates to replace Pery, which they forwarded to the commissioners.
“I am honored to have been appointed to represent the people of House District 3, and I look forward to getting to work to address the challenges in our community,” Powers said in a statement.
Perry, who attended undergraduate school at Notre Dame and obtained a degree in political science, said he intends to use his master’s degree to accomplish his goal of becoming a high school government and history teacher. He is pursuing his degree through Montana State University-Billings while living in Syracuse, New York, where his girlfriend is attending graduate school.
“I wish everyone the best, and again would like to thank all those who have been active participants during my terms as a state legislator,” he wrote.
Perry ran unsuccessfully for HD3 in 2010 and again in 2012 before he unseated incumbent Republican Rep. Jerry O’Neil in 2014, billing himself as a “Blue Dog Democrat” willing to work across the aisle to achieve goals important to all his constituents.