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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana Districting and Apportionment Commissioner Joe Lamson resigns

Joe Lamson has been crunching the numbers trying to figure out how Montana could regain the congressional seat it lost after the 1990 census. He says it's something he never thought would happen in his lifetime.
Shaylee Ragar
/
Montana Public Radio
Joe Lamson has been crunching the numbers trying to figure out how Montana could regain the congressional seat it lost after the 1990 census. He says it's something he never thought would happen in his lifetime.

A longtime Montana Districting and Apportionment Commissioner has resigned ahead of the final push to draw new legislative districts. A former Superintendent of Public Instruction will fill the seat.

Seventy-two year old Democrat Joe Lamson cites personal health reasons and his age in deciding to step down.

Lamson first began working as a staffer for the commission in 1980, and was later appointed a member in 2000. The constitutionally-mandated, bipartisan commission is tasked with redrawing Montana’s political boundaries every 10 years with new U.S. Census data.

Lamson says it’s been an honor to do that work.

“The commission is such a unique constitutional body to deal with this very highly political task that we have to do so we can ensure one-person, one-vote. That’s why we redistrict.”

Democrats have appointed former Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau to replace Lamson. Juneau now works as the chief community and government affairs officer for Bozeman Health.

The commission consists of two Democrats, two Republicans and a nonpartisan chair. Over the summer, commissioners put forth their proposals for how the state’s 150 legislative districts should be drawn. Democrats and Republicans are at odds over the number of Native American districts and how to define political fairness.

Lamson says the bulk of the work to hammer out and find consensus on legislative district maps is still ahead. The commission plans to hold its next meeting around Thanksgiving and must decide on final maps by January.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.  
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