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Library Board appointments stir debate

Library Board appointments stir debate
Mayor Bob Kelly
Commissioner Rick Tryon
Posted at 11:42 AM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 13:47:03-04

GREAT FALLS — During Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled meeting, Great Falls city commissioners appointed two members to the Library Board. But what is usually a straightforward process drew nearly 90 minutes of public comment and discussion.

Members of the library board interviewed 11 candidates for the seats and submitted a recommendation to the commission to appoint Ann Bulger and Jerry Hopkins to the five-member board that governs the Great Falls Public Library.

But following heated public comment about the process the board uses to select new members, the commission voted 3-2 to appoint Bulger to the board, but rejected Hopkins in favor of Noelle Johnson, a candidate who expressed opposition to the library mill levy passed in June.

Mayor Bob Kelly, who voted in support of the original recommendation, said it’s another example of politicizing a process that should be completely non-partisan, while commissioner Rick Tryon expressed an interest in having diverse opinions on the board.

Kelly said, “As I reviewed each of the applications, I was very disappointed to see that some of them felt the need to put their political affiliation on it. That personally is of zero interest to me.”

Tryon said, “We would do well to have another voice on that board, someone with a different point of view than just voting yes every time on everything.”

Library Board members are appointed to serve a five year term.