One of the first tests for statewide elected officials in Montana is the decision on their top staff appointments. On Friday, Tim Fox failed the test.
Fox announced 4 straight, white men as leadership in his office, and announced a female executive assistant (not pictured). The most notable of his selections is Jon Bennion, the former lobbyist for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. (I’ll have more to say on this appointment in a later post.)
These appointments make it painfully clear that diversity is not a priority for him.
Now, diversity for the sake of diversity isn’t inherently valuable. But when you seek a diverse staff so that you have a broad range of experiences, histories and viewpoints you can make your organization–in this instance the Department of Justice–a stronger entity.
The Department of Justice plays such a huge role in the lives of Montanans that this diversity of experience would improve our state. For example, the DoJ oversees all the law enforcement in the state, and we all know that there has been a history of real and perceived racial profiling by law enforcement in tribal communities. By selecting these men as his senior staff, Fox doesn’t have someone providing him with a first-hand understanding of this issue, so Fox is incapable of making an informed decision to do something about it.
It’s important to understand that building a diverse team isn’t something that happens by itself. It’s something that takes work and a concerted effort to make it a priority. Governor Schweitzer is the model on this.
Anyone who has followed Schweitzer’s time in office knows that he has more Native Americans in his staff and cabinet than all previous Montana governors combined. This emphasis on diversity in his staff has paid off, as Schweitzer has enjoyed a close relationship with Montana’s tribal communities to solve some of the problems these communities have faced.
Schweitzer has also put women and members of the LGBT community into senior staff and advisory positions.
Hopefully Fox will take a page out of Governor Schweitzer’s book, and for the sake of Montana, add a little bit of diversity to his staff.
In other appointment news, I’m closely following Governor-elect Bullock’s appointments. We all know that Bullock stumbled during the campaign when it comes to LGBT issues. Hopefully, he’ll follow our advice and appoint some LGBT people to his staff or cabinet. We have several current and former LGBT legislators that would be fantastic choices.
- AG-elect Fox names 5 appointees (billingsgazette.com)
- Republican Tim Fox wins Montana attorney general race (billingsgazette.com)
- AG candidate Fox returns $32K GOP donation (sfgate.com)
- Bullock looks to diversify Montana’s economy (seattletimes.com)