HELENA — Gov.-elect Steve Bullock on Friday unveiled his first three Cabinet appointments, selecting two women and one man to head the departments of Labor and Industry, Commerce and Corrections.
Before a big crowd in the Capitol Rotunda, Bullock, a Democrat, introduced these new directors:
— Pam Bucy, 44, of Helena, as the new commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Industry. Bucy, currently the agency’s chief legal counsel, lost to Republican Tim Fox in the attorney general’s race this fall. She will replace Keith Kelly, who held the post under Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
— Meg O’Leary, 47, of Big Sky, to be the new Commerce Department director. O’Leary has been the director of sales and marketing at Big Sky Resort since 2000. She will succeed Dore Schwinden, who headed the department under Schweitzer.
— Mike Batista, 53, of Helena, to be the new Corrections Department director, following Mike Ferriter. Batista has been the administrator of the Criminal Investigations Division at the state Justice Department for the past 19 years, under three attorneys general, including Bullock.
“This is a group of Montanans that truly does reflect our values, that believe in working hard, playing by the rules and, as lifelong Montanans, they know how bright and how great this state can truly be,” Bullock said.
The new directors will assume their posts on Jan. 7, the same day Bullock will be sworn in as governor. Their appointments must be confirmed by the Senate.
Bullock said he interviewed the new directors and other candidates for these jobs after his transition team pored over many applications and interviewed them earlier.
“It will take the best and brightest talent to lead our state,” he said.
After Bullock introduced the new directors, each spoke briefly.
“I’m ready to join the tremendous energy of this team to work with Montana’s business and higher education communities to ensure that Montana’s workers have the skills to do jobs that Montana businesses are already creating,” Bucy said. “We are excited to continue the tremendous work that has been started creating safer work environments and lower work-comp rates.”
O’Leary likened her experience in the private sector at Big Sky Resort to being commerce director.
“In the private sector, in order to bring business to Montana, we had to go out there and we had to tell a story,” she said. “We have a really great story to tell, and we get to go tell that to the world. To bring job-creating investment to this state, all we have to do is get out there and tell that story.”
Batista said, ”I’m also eager and excited to get to work to oversee a Corrections Department that does right by victims’ families, taxpayers and makes sure communities are safe. They have a big job to do. They do it well. They’re very committed.”
Bullock later will appoint 10 more department directors, the budget director, the mental health ombudsman, director of Indian Affairs, chief business development officer and two members of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
He and Lt.-Gov. John Walsh also will hire up to 20 personal staff members for their offices.