J. Bryher Herak, Democrat
Address: Box 5, Basin, MT 59631
Contact info: (406) 459-0955; firstname.lastname@example.org
Education: Charlo High School, 1965; Carroll College, 1969; Columbus Law School, (now Catholic University Law School), 1973
Occupation: Professional mediator, lawyer, business owner
I believe that we need representatives in state government who know how to find solutions that work for our communities and our families. My skills include helping people work together, understanding the needs of small business owners, and knowledge of the law. I will use those skills to represent the people and communities of Jefferson County.
My parents farmed, ranched, and raised nine children in the Mission Valley north of Missoula. Their parents, immigrants from Ireland and Croatia, left the mines in Butte and Anaconda to move there in the early 1900s. Working hard was necessary, and each generation did just that.
After completing law school in Washington, DC, I moved to Seattle. I did legal work in the areas of civil and human rights, owned a small business that eventually had numerous employees, and became a professional mediator.
Interested in helping open the trades to women, I also worked for five years as an apprentice heavy equipment operator with the International Union of Operating Engineers. I ran scrapers, dozers, and loaders on highway and bridge jobs throughout Washington State.
Eventually I was appointed to the Seattle Women’s Commission. I advised the mayor and city council on women’s issues, and I worked with trade unions and contractors to increase the participation of women and minorities in trades work and construction. In 1987 I was chosen Seattle Woman of the Year. In 1994 the Greater Seattle Business Association selected my restaurant as Business of the Year.
I returned to Montana in 2000 to live in Basin near my twin brother George, a long-term resident of the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) in Boulder. He was having a difficult time, and I found that by visiting him often, he began to improve. I also got active on MDC’s Human Rights Committee. In 1995 Governor Schweitzer appointed me chair of the Montana Disability Advisory Council.
Between 2004-2008 I owned and operated the High Note coffee shop and art gallery in Basin. As with my previous businesses, my goal was to create a community center that brought together folks with different backgrounds and political views.
In 2007 the Montana Human Rights Bureau hired me to do investigations in the areas of employment and housing discrimination. I worked as their mediator from 2008-2014, traveling across Montana to help families and small businesses resolve disputes and avoid costly legal battles.
Separate from that, I worked with the Jefferson County Planning Board and updated the five-year growth plan. I also worked with the Boulder Community as a facilitator in the circles that were instrumental in establishing a Boulder growth plan.
I might add that I’m a trained basketball referee with years of experience. That’s a skill that might be especially useful in state legislature!
Why are you running for this office?
I love Jefferson County. I enjoy bringing people together to listen to each other, solve problems, and celebrate successes. My years of work in government, business, construction, law, and mediation have taught me how government works, and I’d like to use that knowledge to serve the people of Jefferson County.
What do you hope to accomplish in this office?
I hope to effectively serve HD 75. I believe that the role of government is to make sure that public resources are available, protected, and well maintained, because private success depends on public resources (schools, roads, bridges, airports, clean air and water, and much more).
I will make sure that public schools—the heart of our communities--have what they need to educate children, so that our next generation can be successful.
I will promote small businesses, because successful small businesses build community and bring jobs.
I will work for clean and fair elections by addressing “dark money,” the millions of dollars being spent on negative ads attacking candidates, with no one knowing who is funding the attacks. I will support a Constitutional amendment to overturn the “Citizens United” ruling that allows unlimited dark money in Montana politics.
I will work to balance the state budget, addressing the financial crisis that is harming our schools and communities. I am confident we can do this and still provide the resources needed for infrastructure, schools, and essential services.
Why should people vote for you?
My campaign slogan is “Civility. Community. Common Sense.” I will work tirelessly in that spirit for and with the people of Boulder, Basin, Elk Park, Whitehall, Clancy, Montana City, Jefferson City, Bernice, and the surrounding areas. I will continuously ask them these questions:
• What resources does your community need to be even stronger and healthier?
• What can we do together locally and at the state level to make sure your needs are met?
• How shall we celebrate our successes together?
These written survey responses were provided to the Independent Record by the candidate.