NewsLocal News


Billings area well represented on Gianforte transition teams

Posted at 7:00 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 21:00:52-05

Montana Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte is busy setting up his transition teams, as he prepares the take the reins of the state from the current Gov. Steve Bullock's administration in January.

The governor-elect has gathered a cross-section of Montana business and community leaders, including several from the Billings area, to help get the new Gianforte administration off to a running start.

This week, Gianforte announced members to nine transition teams for the Departments of Agriculture, Public Health and Human Services, Corrections, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Revenue and Transportation, as well as joint advisory teams for Commerce-Labor/Industry and the Departments of Natural Resources and Conservation and Environmental Quality.

“To change the way Helena does business, we need a change agent who will put Montanans first, adopt a culture of customer service, and streamline operations,” Gianforte said. "With the right leadership at these agencies, we can eliminate needless delays, streamline the permitting process, and create more good-paying Montana jobs."

Billings legislator Bill Mercer told MTN News that he anticipates a new CEO-like approach to running state government in the Gianforte administration.

"I think this governor's orientation is to try and pull people together and have discussions," said Mercer. "I'm expecting him to pull together whoever's there, Republicans and Democrats on a particular issue, and say let's see if we can work it out. I'm expecting more of a CEO-type approach to communication and that's going to lead to new strategy."

The Billings area is well represented among the appointees to the various transition teams.

Yellowstone County Commissioner Don Jones, for example, is on the Department of Revenue team. Business Executive Karen Fagg, from the board of MDU Resources, Inc., will help select the new head of the Department of Administration.

Montana Peterbilt President Kevin Gustainis is on the governor-elect's Transportation team, and Best Western ClockTower Inn owner Steve Wahrlich is among 10 people helping with the transition at the Departments of Labor and Commerce.

The transition teams are charged with sending recommendations to the governor-elect. Team members serve in a voluntary capacity and are not compensated for their time.

Earlier this month, Gianforte launched, a website in which individuals can submit their credentials for consideration to serve Montana, including leading state agencies.