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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Cascade County commissioners choose a new election administrator

Cascade County commissioners chose a new election administrator Thursday.

Commissioners unanimously selected former Great Falls Association of Realtors CEO Terry Thompson to manage Cascade County’s elections. Thompson served terms on a neighborhood council in Great Falls and unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2020.

Other candidates for the job included a former Democratic clerk and recorder and their deputy administrator. Thompson was the only candidate with no experience working in an elections office. She pitched herself to commissioners during her interview as a problem-solver and quick learner.

Commissioner Rae Grulkowski said she was pleased with the panel’s decision, which came after months of tumultuous public meetings focused on stabilizing the county’s elections office.

“I’m excited for our future,” Grulkowski said. “I’d like to have things calm down and get to work on a very heavy election year.”

Public commenters were largely supportive of the commissioners’ choice.

Thompson will fill the nonpartisan administrator role previously held by current Republican county Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant. Commissioners removed election management duties from Merchant’s office in December following a series of elections that drew allegations of mistakes and misconduct.

The next election on Cascade County’s calendar is a school election in May.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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