There has been a near frantic effort in Great Falls by a small group of locals to not only delegitimatize the upcoming Great Falls Public Library mil levy election but to smear the duly elected Cascade County Elections administrator, Sandra Merchant.
There are a few facts which some local media outlets don’t seem to be interested in reporting but which are important and relevant to the issue in question.
One of the founders and main spokespersons for the recently formed Election Protection Committee, which was demanding the resignation of Merchant before she ran even one election in Cascade County, is Pete Fontana – brother of Democrat Rina Fontana Moore who lost her position to Republican Merchant in last November’s election.
In addition, the lawyer who was chosen by the library to represent them and has filed suit against Merhant’s office is Raph Graybill, son of Jessica Crist, a GFPL Board of Trustees board member.
Political Party Affiliations
Graybill is a progressive Democrat activist, former Governor Bullock legal staffer, and failed 2020 candidate for Montana Attorney General, losing in a near landslide to Austin Knudsen 42 to 58 percent.
Another founding member and vocal critic of Merchant is Jane Weber, former Democrat Cascade County Commissioner who resigned her seat in 2020. Democrat Don Ryan was appointed to Weber’s seat and then lost in 2022 to Republican Rae Grulkowski.
Another prominent member of the Election Protection Committee demanding Merchant’s resignation is far left Democrat activist Jasmine Taylor who lost elections for legislature and Great Falls city commission.
So family ties, progressive Democrats, and losing Democrat candidates seem to make up the bulk of the visible public opposition to the people’s choice for Cascade County elections supervisor.
Any concerns about Merchant’s competence or ability to run local elections, and there are legitimate questions and concerns, lose credibility when you look at the possible motivations and partisan history of the people attacking her.
It looks like the Election Protection Committee isn’t really interested in seeing successfully run elections – they seem more interested in spreading discord, mistrust, and havoc.
And that’s unfortunate.