MISSOULA — Missoula County commissioners voted Thursday to appoint Shane Morigeau to fill the remainder of Sen. Nate McConnell’s term representing Senate District 48. 

Morigeau, a seasoned state legislator, lawyer and member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will carry out the remainder of McConnell’s term to Dec. 31, 2022. He will have the opportunity to run as a candidate in the November 2022 election. The winner of that election will serve the standard four-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2023. 

The role of the Missoula County commissioners in this case is to “represent the expressed interest and preference of the voters of Senate District 48,” Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said. “The voters in Senate District 48, at least half of them in Shane Morigeau’s House district, have selected Shane in the past to represent them. So, we know that the values of a good number of folks in Senate District 48 have been already expressed by putting Shane into office.”   

The commissioners also considered Briana Lamb and Monica Tranel to fill the role. They shared a mutual inspiration and respect of the candidates immense expertise they would bring to the position. 

“We can’t make a bad decision,” said Commissioner Juanita Vero. “Representation matters. Shane will be the only urban Indian in this Legislature. He’s worked in the Legislature since 2013, he’s been in leadership, he’s widely respected and he’s successfully built those relationships within the Democratic minority and the Republican majority. It’s going to be critical to draw upon known and trusted relationships across the aisle during this next legislative session.”  

While advocating for constituents, Morigeau’s efforts have focused on Medicaid expansion, affordable and accessible health care for Montanans, protecting public lands, writing and passing the Montana Promise Act, and protections for child sex abuse victims and students abused in schools. He also worked on legislation to hold tech companies accountable to consumer protection.   

“Shane has been in the Legislature and built relationships that are going to be especially crucial in this deep partisan session. Ideas aren’t going to win the day; passion won’t win the day. If we are going to make any headway, it’s through the relationships that we already have,” Commissioner Slotnick said.   

McConnell, a Democrat, resigned from his elected position on Nov. 5. Pursuant to Montana Code Annotated 5-2-402, the Missoula County Democratic Central Committee provided a list of three nominees for the commissioners to consider. 

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