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Non-partisan forum discusses Montana Constitution

by Mindy Ferrell
| March 15, 2023 12:00 AM

This Sunday, March 19, from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Paradise Center in Paradise, there will be a “Constitutional Forum to Support and Defend Montana’s Constitution.” It will feature three esteemed speakers with a breadth and depth of experience who hope to educate the public about the Constitution’s foundation and relevance today. All three speakers have devoted their lives and careers to public service, and relied on Montana’s Constitution as their foundational framework.

Mae Nan Ellingson was there when our Constitution was written. She was the youngest citizen delegate in 1972, one of 100 who gathered in Helena to write Montana’s Constitution on whose framework we all live by today. She and a colleague authored its powerful and poetic preamble. She has worked as Missoula City Atty, was a partner in Dorsey Whitney Law Firm and opened their Missoula office. During her 30 years with that firm, she specialized in constitutional Law, state and local government law, and a slice of federal tax law to work on local government’s public projects and helped to shape MT’s tax increment law. She is the Chair of a recently formed group, Friends of Montana’s Constitution whose purpose is to promote and enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the 1972 Montana Constitution.

Daniel Kemmis legislated under Montana’s Constitution and was the Mayor of Missoula, directing local law to balance operations with Constitutional law. He was raised on a Montana family farm before graduating from Harvard in government and politics. He was elected to Montana’s House of Representatives where he served as Minority Leader and Speaker of the House. Relying on this legislative experience, he authored his first book, Community and the Politics of Place just prior to being elected Mayor of Missoula. His subsequent books further his belief that local citizens are the foundation for democracy. His most recent book, Citizens Uniting to Restore Democracy, stresses that authentic conservatism and progressivism are both deeply rooted in genuine human concerns and in the shared history of our democratic republic.

Marc Racicot held positions as Montana’s Attorney General and held two terms as Montana’s Governor. Montana’s Constitution was the foundational document under which both those positions must align. Born in Thompson Falls, graduating high school in Libby, from college at Carroll College, and from Law school at University of Montana, Marc is rooted in Montana. He serves on the boards of the Mansfield Foundation and Friends of Montana’s Constitution.

This forum is free and open to the public. It is provided in the spirit of friendship and civic duty. It is a non-partisan event, as is Montana’s Constitution. It is being held at the restored 1910 school built on the hill in Paradise – what could be more fitting?

— Mindy Ferrell, Trout Creek