GREAT FALLS — A Montana county that includes most of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and parts of Glacier National Park has elected its first female commissioner.
Mary Jo Bremner’s friends thought she was crazy when she said she was running for the Glacier County Commission, which had never had a female member let alone a Native American woman.
But the retired high school teacher beat the historical odds and was sworn in at a ceremony this week.
She said she came out of retirement to run for the post in hopes of bringing unity to a divided county.
“I was humbled about the whole thing,” Bremner, 68, told the Great Falls Tribune. “I feel very honored.”
Glacier County has struggled to maintain a balanced budget in recent years. An audit of the county for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 found that it had a cash deficit of nearly $4 million as of November 2018.
While a state probe into the county’s financial irregularities found no basis for criminal charges against officials, the investigator did say there were code violations.
Bremner taught at Browning High School for 30 years and served on the Montana Board of Public Education. She noted that she taught most of the county officials and said rather than resolve years of irregularities all at once, she will encourage the county to rectify the budgets “one month at a time.”
“I was their coach, and I was their teacher, so I have a respect for them and they have a respect for me,” she said. “Through that mutual respect, we can speak with one another and really get things done.”
Glacier County Commission Chair Mike DesRosier said he’s proud of the county for electing Bremner.
“I think it took so long to elect a woman because there hasn’t been a lot of participation in our elections,” he said. “But we had a greater turnout, which generated more interest in issues, like the fact that we’ve never had a woman commissioner.”
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