For Mallerie Stromswold, honesty is of the utmost importance, and that’s true when explaining why she’s stepping down from her seat in the state legislature that represents downtown Billings.
“We need to lead voters to work. Now is clearly not the time. said in an interview this week.
The obvious question is also a loaded one—why? Stromswold loves and appreciates opportunities to serve, and her dedication to public service and voters is evident.
But there are “but”, “nevertheless”, “nevertheless” she had to endure.
“It’s no secret being at Helena, my experience in the past hasn’t always been positive, and that’s been part of it,” Stromswold said. “But right now most of the time my mental health is not in a position to do this stuff. To be a helpful leader, I need to focus on myself, I need to be okay.
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Stromswold said she’s not entirely happy right now to share everything that happened in the last session, but some of it was spoken by her and some of it was done publicly. rice field.
“It was no secret that my vote in the last session stood out from the caucuses because I voted on my conscience and voters. It met with a lot of resistance to my caucuses,” she said. said.
In the last session, Stromswold was the only Republican on the House Judiciary Committee in the Boiler Room to vote against the bill. It would have banned gender-affirming health care for transgender youth and prevented transgender girls and women from playing on women’s sports teams.She and another Republican Spoke in favor of a Democratic bill that would allow minors to use emergency shelters without parental consentwhich pitted her against other Republicans and powerful lobbyists who said the bill trampled on parental and guardian rights.
Her voting record wasn’t the only thing that defined Stromswold differently than other Republican caucuses. She was one of three previous Montana legislators under the age of 25, compared with her 45% of baby boomers. State Legislative National Meeting Data.
Bringing that perspective to the floor was one of the reasons she wanted to serve and why it was so hard to leave.
“I often feel like I offer such a unique perspective. If I don’t say it, who says?” Stromswold said.
Broadly speaking, Generation Z is much more comfortable talking about mental health than they are about physical ailments, and that’s important for Stromswold to demonstrate now.
“Oh, I thought I could handle it. I can handle it. I can always handle everything,” Stromswold said. “But it became more and more like, ‘Is it worth doing now? Thirty days into the session, he found himself devastated and unable to even serve properly. ”
As she was discussing the possibility of resigning, a friend reminded her that she should be treated the same as resigning when she is unwell.
“Mental health should be seen as health. I wasn’t raised that way. Montana doesn’t tend to think that way, especially not on the Republican side,” Stromswold said. Please continue. ‘ But you can only do it for a long time. I don’t want that to be the theme of my life. I want to be healthy. And I don’t feel healthy anymore. ”
She attends school at Montana State University, takes one of her classes in person on Mondays and Fridays, and tries to zoom in on that day’s legislative hearings and floor sessions. That schedule falls through the rest of the week when she’s at Helena.
She pays rent at Helena and Bozeman, where she attends school. Anyone who knows anything about the Montana housing market knows it’s an Everest-like challenge in itself.
And she does it all without long-term, supportive work. a self-employed career; or a retirement fund and pension-backed financial agreement that allows many lawmakers to come to the Capitol every other year for her four months.
This was another stumbling block for Stromswold, something she wanted to make sure people understood.
“It’s typically an institution built by older, wealthier, and, to be honest, men, and I’m not one of them,” Stromswold said. I’m living, paying rent twice, going to school, I can’t afford it, I can’t afford to serve.”
The first two weeks of this session were dominated by discussions about what to do with the $2.4 billion surplus. A lot of the ideas are ultimately about property tax refunds, which don’t make much sense to college renters. I often said that I had not thought of it to the legislators of
“You can’t blame them. That’s not what they hear. They’re not knocking on doors with college students. Usually they pay property taxes and that’s what they see.” “I feel almost responsible[for raising these points]but I know this point of view follows me.”
After swearing on January 2nd, Stromswold reflected on his struggles in the last session and realized that this year was not much different in any important way.
“I still have to do those votes. I’m never going to stand in line. It’s become clear that the impact of such actions hasn’t changed this session,” Stromswold said. I was. “You get a lot of backlash, verbal and pressure. Pressure and backlash is a really good way to encapsulate what happens.”
After a pause, she added, “Angry.”
When she first decided to run for office shortly before her 18th birthday, she had no idea of the political environment she was entering.
“I thought everyone had your back.
Then she saw the first slew of bills focused on culture wars issues, such as laws restricting transgender access to health care and sports teams.
“(I) realized that while these priorities are technically under the umbrella of[the platform]for some people, they don’t apply to me,” Stromswold said. “At the moment, I feel like I have no place on this platform.”
According to Stromswold, the animosity is always there, whether it’s verbalized and outspoken, as in the last session, or unspoken and marginalized, as it has been in the past.
“It was hard at this point because it was happening behind closed doors. The last session was very direct to me. to,” said Stromswold.
She worried that the bills she wanted to bring, like those to fund a homeless shelter, wouldn’t be shaken fairly.
“It was like, ‘I want it to go through, so I don’t know if I’m the best person to carry this.’
“Since I was the sponsor, there was a concern that I didn’t want to jeopardize something that was very high priority,” Stromswold continued. “…I hope they think more about their representatives than they think about them.”
For all those who have frustrated with her in past polls, she wanted to make sure there were three more people who were kind. .
“Given the highs in the last session, that’s one of the 67 me standing in that scenario. You get all the backlash from it, so it’s also a low. But after two weeks, Regardless, I’m happy to be proud of last session and this one,” Stromswold said.
Stromswold was a Republican “my life”. Ever since she was 11, everyone around her knew she wanted to enter politics someday. Her political beliefs are rooted in her idea that she generally leaves people alone and does her own thing as long as she doesn’t hurt others.
“The most important thing for me is personal choice. …I feel that all decisions should very much be without government. That’s what the Republican Party means to me: to make sure everyone has their basic needs met and lives as they please,” Stromswold said.
Stromswold threw himself into the legislative process during a session in 2019 when he was responsible for some of the most intense debates about expanding Medicaid.
“There is a large group of Republicans who opposed the entire caucus,” Stromswold said of what he saw four years ago. Then she watched them get re-elected, showing that she can stand up for what she believes in.
That’s the message she shares with this year’s incoming lawmakers, especially those who voted for the more moderate side of the House rule-setting debate.
“It’s interesting because I’m at least 20 years younger than most of them, and… I can be a role model, and I can say ‘if you can’t,’ and be a role model for everyone else.” I want to be. That’s fine, you don’t have to put up with it,” Stromswold said.
Stromswold said it’s tough when Republicans are pushing people to be left behind on platforms that may not cover the entire GOP spectrum.
Over the summer, at the Republican Platform Convention in Montana, young female delegates with the slogan “We’re Better, Together” tried to remove language about the abortion policy that life begins with an abortion. was loudly mocked at Her concern was to alienate people with differing views on the topic.
Stromswold said that often in Congress, a majority—an overwhelming majority this year—want similar allegiance to an irrefutable idea.
“I’ve come to have to meet this standard. It’s like a category I don’t like. It’s a party, I should be in this umbrella. It’s not this size 2 dress that everyone has to wear.” and Stromswold.
Her constituency in Central Billings includes quite a few college students, seniors trying to stay home, and young families struggling to make life work.
“We’re talking about drag shows where college students and people in Bozeman can’t afford housing and can’t even find housing.” Remember, the Republican Party is so great, we have this power…but it’s too divisive to accomplish anything.”
Of course, she’s currently studying Political Science, but thinks she’s going to work on the advocacy side of things when she’s done, perhaps with a focus on human trafficking.
Stromswold is optimistic, but in the long run things will turn around for both the party and Congress. I hope that
“I have a lot of faith in my generation,” she said. “It takes a long time.”