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Big Sky Voter Guide: 2022 Primary Election

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BIG SKY – The June 7 primary election is fast approaching, and Big Sky voters have several decisions to make on this year’s ballot. From federal Congressional candidates to a local-option tax, EBS compiled a voter guide for both Madison and Gallatin county voters in the community including high-level information for candidates in contested races. Absentee ballots for the primary election have already been mailed out and must be in the possession of the county by 8 p.m. on June 7, election day. 

For in-person voting or to drop off an absentee ballot, see the below polling locations nearest to
Big Sky. 

This voter guide was compiled by Explore Big Sky staff and was informed by email statements from the candidates. Bios for U.S. House District candidates and Montana Supreme Court candidates were pulled from Montana Free Press’ 2022 Voter Guide. Visit for more in-depth candidate and election coverage. 

U.S. House District 1 (Democrat)

Cora Neumann

Cora Neumann, 47, was raised in Bozeman. After spending much of her professional career living across the U.S. and abroad, Neumann returned to live in Bozeman full-time in 2019, where she and her husband are raising their two kids.

Neumann, who has a PhD in public health from Oxford University, spent the last two decades working in international health, economic development and public lands advocacy. She founded the Global First Ladies Alliance and has been an adviser for the U.S. State Department and the George W. Bush Presidential Center, among other professional positions.

Neumann launched a campaign for one of Montana’s U.S. Senate seats in 2019 but dropped out when former Gov. Steve Bullock entered the race.

This biography was compiled with information from a candidate interview and Neumann’s LinkedIn page.

Monica Tranel

Monica Tranel, 56, grew up in Miles City, Ashland, Broadview and Billings. She currently resides in Missoula. Tranel graduated from Gonzaga University and received her law degree from Rutgers University.

Tranel is a two-time Olympic rower, having competed in both the 1996 and 2000 summer games. She moved back to Montana and began working for the Public Service Commission as a staff attorney in 2001. Tranel has spent recent years working in private practice.

Tranel made an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Public Service Commission in 2020. Her campaign issues include increasing regulations and taxes for corporations, supporting affordable housing and higher wages, and climate change resiliency.

This biography was compiled with information from Tranel’s campaign website and an interview with the candidate.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter, 35, is a Polson resident who has lived in Montana for roughly a decade. He served one term as a state representative for House District 96, which he won from a Republican incumbent in 2018. He left the Legislature and ran for Congress in 2020, losing in the Democratic primary to Kathleen Williams.

In the Legislature and his congressional campaigns, Winter has advocated for legalizing marijuana, increasing taxes on the wealthy and creating a universal health care system.

Winter currently works on commission with the company WorldCell, helping localities pursue federal grants to implement broadband infrastructure.

This biography was compiled using records from the Legislature and the secretary of state’s office, as well as information provided by the candidate’s campaign.

U.S. House District 1 (Republican)

Mitch Heuer

Mitch Heuer, 59, is a general contractor and small business owner who lives near Whitefish. He’s lived in Montana for roughly six years. Before that, he was a resident of Colorado.

Heuer is the owner of Heuer Homes LLC, which constructs modular homes, and Heuer Labs LLC, which he founded to pursue product development in 2008. He has a professional background in construction, project management, and several other trade skills.

According to Heuer’s campaign website, his top policy priorities include finding solutions to housing inaffordability, combatting mass shootings, improving transportation and self-actualization for younger generations.

This biography was compiled from material on Heuer’s professional and campaign websites, as well as reporting by the Daily Inter Lake.

Matt Jette

Matt Jette, 49, relocated to Missoula in 2021 after previously living in Florida and Arizona. He is a teacher at Sentinel High School and also teaches in the political science department at the University of Montana. He has earned degrees from the University of Montana, Harvard University and Arizona State University.

Jette previously campaigned for public office in Arizona. He ran as a Republican in a 2010 bid for governor and registered as a Democrat to run for Congress in 2012 before switching his status to independent.

Jette has listed his policy priorities as health care reform, economic adaptability and improving education.

This biography was compiled with information from Jette’s campaign website, news reports, and a recent phone interview with the candidate.

Al Olszewski

Al Olszewski, 59, is a former state lawmaker and orthopedic surgeon. He grew up in Montana and is a resident of Kalispell, where he lives with his wife and family. Olszewski will appear on the ballot as “Al ‘Doc’ Olszewski.”

Before entering politics, Olszewski served 13 years in the U.S. Air Force as a surgeon beginning in the 1980s. He served three consecutive terms in the state Legislature, first as a representative in 2015 and later as a senator.

Olszewski unsuccessfully campaigned for the Republican nomination for governor in 2020 against eventual winner Greg Gianforte and former state Attorney General Tim Fox. His campaign issues include conservative immigration policies, increased election security and reducing government spending and inflation.

This biography was compiled with information from Olszewski’s campaign website and legislative archives.

Mary Todd

Todd gained prominence as a public figure in the Flathead Valley after the death of her son Shane, who Todd says was murdered in Singapore in 2012. Since then, Todd has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese and Singapore governments.

In her congressional campaign, Todd has described herself as an “unapologetic America First conservative.” Political priorities listed on her campaign website include making the U.S. more competitive in global trade and foreign policy, opposing abortion and completing a wall across the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

Todd did not complete MTFP’s issues questionnaire. This biography was completed with information from the candidate’s campaign and business websites and archival news articles.

Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke, 60, served as Montana’s sole U.S. congressman from 2014 until 2017, when he relinquished that seat to become the Secretary of the Department of the Interior under former President Donald Trump. Zinke resigned from that position in 2018 after investigations into possible ethics violations, which Zinke dismissed as “false allegations.” In February, the department’s Office of Inspector General found that Zinke had misused his office but had not engaged in criminal conduct.

Since leaving his federal position, Zinke has worked as a contractor for private companies, including ConocoPhillips, Cyber Range Solutions and JVL Enterprises of Dallas.

Before his election to Congress, Zinke was a state lawmaker in Montana. Zinke served as a U.S. Navy SEAL for over 20 years, retiring in 2008.

This biography was compiled with information from the secretary of state’s records, national news articles and reporting by KTVH on Zinke’s 2022 financial disclosure.

Montana Supreme Court Seat 1 (Non-partisan)

Bill D’Alton

Bill D’Alton, 59, is a Billings-based attorney who has practiced law in Montana for more than 20 years. He represents both plaintiffs and defendants at D’Alton Law Firm P.C. According to his professional website, D’Alton has tried jury cases in several types of Montana courts. He has also appealed cases before the Montana Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

D’Alton has said that, if elected, he plans to serve only one eight-year term, which he says will help him maintain independence as a jurist.

D’Alton earned his law degree from the University of Montana and was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 1995.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with D’Alton.

Jim Rice

Jim Rice, 64, is the court’s longest-serving current member, having served as a justice since 2001. He was appointed to his seat in 2001 by

Republican Gov. Judy Martz, and won reelection in 2002, 2006 and 2014.

Before becoming a justice, Rice was an attorney in private practice and a three-time Republican legislator representing East Helena. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Law and was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 1982.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with Rice.

Montana Supreme Court Seat 2 (Non-partisan)

James Brown

James Brown, 51, from Dillon, has operated his private practice law firm in Helena since 2012. He is also the current chairman of the Public Service Commission, which he campaigned
for in 2020.

Brown served as legal counsel for the Montana Republican Party from 2009 to 2015 and has continued to represent the GOP in recent cases. In that time period he also represented American Tradition Partnership, a conservative political organization.

Brown earned his J.D. from Seattle University in 2004. He was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 2007.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with Brown.

Ingrid Gustafson

Gustafson, 60, has served on the Montana Supreme Court since 2017, when she was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. She won re-election in 2018.

Prior to joining the state’s high court, Gustafson served as a district court judge in Yellowstone County for 14 years, a position to which she was appointed by Republican Gov. Judy Martz in 2004. While on the bench in Yellowstone County, Gustafson started a felony drug treatment court and a pilot court to expedite and improve outcomes in child neglect cases.

Gustafson received her law degree from the University of Montana and was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 1988.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with Gustafson.

Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon, 57, of Helena, has been on the bench as a district court judge serving Lewis and Clark and Broadwater counties since 2016. In recent years, McMahon has taken over the handing of adult cases in family court for the district.

Prior to that, McMahon practiced as a civil defense attorney, representing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana in insurance disputes and doctors and attorneys facing malpractice lawsuits.

McMahon graduated from the Gonzaga University School of Law in 1991. After starting his legal career in North Dakota, he was admitted to the State Bar of Montana in 1992 and returned to Helena to continue practicing in 1996.

This biography is based on campaign materials and interviews with McMahon.

Montana House District 64 (Democrat)

Editor’s Note: Michelle Vered will also appear as a candidate for Montana House District 64 on the Democratic ballot. Vered could not be reached by EBS press time. 

Alanah Griffith

Alanah Griffith was born and raised in Four Corners outside of Bozeman. She currently practices contract and real estate law with Griffith and Cummings, PC in Big Sky. She lives in Big Sky with her husband and son. 

Why are you running?

The reason that I am running for HD 64 is to bring common sense and decency back to our government.  Growing up in Four Corners, Montana, I saw first-hand how Montanans were proud of our ability to find common ground on difficult issues. We elected legislators that reached across the aisle to find working solutions for the challenges facing our communities. I will put those teachings and my experience as an attorney to use for my neighbors. I will focus on the issues facing all Montanans, like affordable housing, access to justice, healthcare and expanding access to our public lands. 

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election

During my 20-year legal career, I have worked tirelessly to help small businesses thrive, keep access open to public lands and to ensure that neighborhoods have common sense rules in place protect property values and promote safety.  I bring diverse interests to the table to work out real solutions to their issues.  By electing me, you can put my skills to use for you. I will create real legislation that actually addresses issues like affordable housing and get laws passed by using my hard-won negotiation skills.  In short, you are electing an experienced advocate to represent you in Helena.

Madison County Commissioner District 3 (Non-partisan)

Kristy Wright Ranson

Kristy Wright Ranson is a native Montanan, local business owner, Ennis town government leader and mother. 

Why are you running?

Born in Montana, I was raised in a ranching family, with a strong work ethic, and a love of riding horses. Being an owner of multiple businesses in Madison County and having lived in multiple locations throughout the southwest US, it was Ennis where I choose to raise my daughter. I understand first-hand the issues facing our citizens; workforce housing, road and bridge maintenance, income inequality, medical services, as well as growth and infrastructure demands.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election? 

I feel the experiences and perspective I have gained, will help me work with my fellow commissioners to represent all the citizens of Madison County. I am prepared to dedicate my time and energy into representing both sides of District 3 not just the Ennis side. As your Commissioner, I feel strongly positioned to preserve the core values of the citizens of Madison County as we move forward together into the future.

Bill Todd

Bill Todd is the chief technology officer and co-founder of an application that enables political committees to file electronic reports with the Federal Electronic Commission. He lives in Ennis. 

Why are you running?

I was asked by a friend and local business leader to run for county commissioner and have answered the call of public service. I believe that the time is right for Madison County to transition its leadership to a professional model instead of a part-time pursuit. Along those lines, I already attend all regular commission meetings and upon assuming office, commissioner will be my full-time occupation to avoid conflicts of interest. The next five years are crucial to the long-term health of the county and I know that I’m the right man for the job.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election? 

I am a husband, an outdoorsman, a conservative and a college athlete. In 2012, I co-founded an accounting software company and serve as chief technology officer and secretary of our board of directors. I have extensive experience in managing contracts, engaging in difficult negotiations and overseeing civil litigation. I believe in low taxes and small effective government. My technical background is unmatched by any other candidate and I intend to use those skills in modernizing county operations. I represent four generations of family within Madison County and my dedication to success in this position is total, unwavering, and guaranteed. 

Brian Conklin

Brian holds an MBA in economic development and recently retired as a U.S. diplomat after serving the U.S. on the front lines for more than 20 years. His wife, Dawn, leads the Madison Valley Medical Center Foundation. He has three kids. 

Why are you running?

I have spent my career in service to my country and community. Madison County is at critical cross-road. As the population booms there is pressure on infrastructure, housing, school and healthcare and our unique, small-town way of life. Businesses are struggling to find and house employees and we [are] having challenges recruiting and keeping county staff. Also critical is maintaining access to our public lands and streams. It’s time for serious and qualified leadership to bring people together to tackle these challenges. I am the only candidate with the experience in managing public services and working with key stakeholders to find creative solutions to address these issues.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election? 

I’m committed to bringing transparent leadership to the county—leadership that supports our dedicated county employees, encourages open and respectful conversations with all constituents and ensures your voice will be heard.  I am a hands-on manager and will be working full-time, listening to your concerns, building relationships and working with you to find solutions. More than any other candidate, I bring the experience, leadership and strategic planning skills to professionalize and equip our county to tackle the challenges ahead.

Madison County Justice of the Peace

Editor’s Note: Wes Collette will also appear as a candidate for Madison County justice of the peace on the Madison County ballot. Collette could not be reached before EBS press time.

Marc Glines

Marc Glines and has lived in Madison County since 1989. He has served on several boards, and his wife, Brenda, has been a schoolteacher in Ennis for
30 years. 

Why are you running? 

Madison County needs a fair, compassionate and dedicated justice of the peace. I am that person.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election?

My wife and I moved to Madison County in 1989 and raised two children here. I have been actively involved in the community from starting an outdoor program involving K-6 children that saw students from Sheridan, Harrison, Ennis and Cardwell called Discovery Days to being a CPR-first aid instructor for 30 years. I was a Montana state game warden for 20 years, director of security for Moonlight Basin for four years. I went to undergraduate and graduate school at Michigan State University, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and Justice of the Peace for Madison County since March.

Jordan Allhands

Jordan Allhands has lived in Madison County for 20 years. She and her husband and their two kids reside in the Ruby Valley, where her husband also owns a business. 

Why are you running?

My respect for the justice system has given me the ambition to sit as justice of the peace. I want to be able to give the residents of Madison County an impartial Justice Court while following Montana Code Annotated, which is of the utmost importance. I am dedicated, strong, impartial and intelligent and wish to use those qualities in a position I am passionate about. After my employment in this office, I know the importance of the laws of our great state and hope to do a part in upholding them. Serving Madison County in this capacity would be a great honor. 

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election?

I was employed by Madison County serving seven years in the Justice Court. I was the substitute judge and conducted bail hearings (misdemeanor and felony), sentencing, omnibus hearings and pre-trial conferences. I have extensive knowledge of the duties in the Justice Court office, including finances/budget, filings, Full Court software and scheduling. Additionally, I have knowledge of criminal and civil law within Justice Court jurisdiction, pertinent to the position. I hold the duties of the court to high standards and will be dedicated to my job. I am confident in my experience and aptitude to sit as Madison County’s next justice of the peace and would be proud to serve its residents.

Gallatin County Attorney (Democrat)

Bjorn Boyer

Bjorn Boyer grew up on a cattle ranch in eastern Oregon and graduated from University of Oregon Law School in 2013. Boyer’s spouse, Shayla, is a Montana native and surgical technologist at Bozeman Health.

Why are you running?

For over seven years, I have served the citizens of Gallatin County as a deputy county attorney. I am a proven prosecutor and want to continue to represent crime victims. I also have fresh ideas to effectively move the office into the future, protect the public by aggressively prosecuting violent and sexual crime, and reducing recidivism by implementing new programs to rehabilitate those in the criminal justice system due to addiction and mental health issues.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election?

I have the experience to lead the County Attorney’s Office. I have prosecuted all types of cases, ranging from DUI to sexual assault to homicides. I have been in the court room advocating for crime victims routinely over the last seven years. Court room advocacy experience is a qualification that the next county attorney must have. I also have new ideas to decrease recidivism in Gallatin County. If elected, I will work to establish a mental health treatment court as well as a diversion program for low-level offenders. Such programs will address the root causes of crime to ensure that offenders can become productive members of society.

Audrey Cromwell

Audrey Cromwell was raised in Billings and attended law school at the University of Montana. Cromwell is a mom and her husband, Charlie, is a U.S. Army veteran. She founded her Cromwell Law in 2011. 

Why are you running? 

The county attorney leads a large team of criminal and civil lawyers, advises county departments and sets policy for criminal justice enforcement and reform. While the county attorney must have an exceptional grasp of criminal law, she must also possess the ability to build consensus among community stakeholders, implement complex civil and criminal justice policies and provide balanced legal advice to county officials.  

I am running for county attorney because our county’s criminal justice and mental health systems need smart reform. My proven leadership will keep our community safe, wisely invest our taxpayer dollars and tackle the tough issues.

Why should voters elect you to advance to the general election?

I’m the only candidate with experience in every legal aspect of criminal justice, having served the public as a judge pro tem, public defender, legal aid attorney, prosecutor and private defense attorney. I’ve represented thousands of people throughout my career, prosecuted and defended people in jury trials, overseen hearings as a judge and worked with law enforcement to keep our community safe. It’s time for a change in the County Attorney’s Office—not more of the same. I ask you to vote for proven leadership. Vote Audrey Cromwell for Gallatin’s next county attorney.

Ballot Issues (Gallatin County)

​​Gallatin County voters will be asked to decide on two local-option marijuana taxes as part of this year’s primary election ballot including a 3 percent local-option sales tax on all non-medical (recreational) marijuana products sold in Gallatin County; and a 3 percent local-option sales tax on all medical marijuana products sold in Gallatin County.

In November 2020, Montana voters passed Initiative Measure 190, which allowed for the operation of various categories of marijuana businesses and taxation of marijuana retail sales in Montana counties in which a majority of voters approved the initiative. The initiative passed in Gallatin County with 65.6 percent of the vote.

State law does not allow county governments to impose similar taxes on any other product. The state already imposes at 20 percent tax on recreational marijuana and a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana.

“This is a really unique, brand-new feature in state law and that’s the reason we have this opportunity to even put this question in front of the voters,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Zach Brown. “We’re not making this decision on behalf of the voters. The voters get to weigh in.”

If voters in an eligible county pass a local-option marijuana tax, 50 percent of the tax must be retained by the county, 45 percent apportioned to the cities and towns in the county based on population, and the remaining 5 percent given to the Montana Department of Revenue to defray state costs associated with the tax.

State law allows counties or cities and towns that receive local-option sales tax revenue for any activity, undertaking or administrative service authorized by law, including costs resulting from the imposition of the tax.

If passed, the local-option taxes would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2022. Gallatin County Commissioners say that, if passed, they will use the county’s portion of the local taxes to fund mental health services.

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