Colleagues praise Bullock's choice of McLean for 2nd-in-command

2014-02-10T18:38:00Z 2014-02-11T00:20:06Z Colleagues praise Bullock's choice of McLean for 2nd-in-commandBy MIKE SMITH Montana Standard The Billings Gazette
February 10, 2014 6:38 pm  • 

BUTTE — Montana is getting a dedicated classroom teacher who knows education policy at all levels as its lieutenant governor, some colleagues and Democratic state lawmakers say.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock announced Monday that he chose Angela McLean, an American history and government teacher at Anaconda High School, as Montana’s next lieutenant governor.

Bullock last week appointed Lt. Gov. John Walsh, his running mate in the 2012 election, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Sen. Max Baucus.

A native of Twin Bridges, McLean has taught at Anaconda High for several years and has served on the Montana Board of Education. She has been on the Montana Board of Regents overseeing the higher education system since 2010 and was elected chair in 2012.

State Rep. Kathy Swanson, D-Anaconda, said she was thrilled about the choice and its obvious emphasis on education.

“It’s not that education has been ignored, but some educational issues at the legislative level have been tough battles and maybe she can help us out on that,” Swanson said.

Not only is education the largest expenditure in the state budget, it is the cornerstone to creating good jobs, she said.

Anaconda High School Principal Paul Furthmyre said McLean is a persistent educator who is not only dedicated to her students, but the entire school and public education system.

“She is very goal-oriented and works hard until her goals are achieved,” Furthmyer said.

He said McLean also is the school’s curriculum director.

“Under her direction we have a pretty good handle on where we need to be,” he said. “She is a big part of why we have seen the successes we have seen at the high school.”

State Rep. Edie McClafferty, D-Butte, said the choice was a “breath of fresh air” because McLean is a lifelong educator, not a politician.

“She is very in tune with education at the K-12 level and higher education,” McClafferty said.

The past two lieutenant governors have strong connections to the Butte-Anaconda area. Walsh is a native of Butte and McLean lives in Anaconda with her husband, Mike, a native of the town. She also has taught as an adjunct professor at Montana Tech in Butte.

Politically, the area strongly favors Democrats, even as Republicans have big margins of control in the state House and Senate.

But Swanson said she does not believe Bullock’s choice was based on that.

“Butte and Anaconda have been notorious for being Democratic … but I don’t think the governor was thinking in terms of Democratic or Republicans,” she said. “I know the governor would have looked at a wide field and he could have picked people in Missoula or Billings or Kalispell with more voters.”

Bozeman Mayor Jeffrey Krauss, who has served with McLean on the Board of Regents, said her time there and on the Board of Education gives her some key credentials to be the state’s second-highest official.

“She has a lot of experience dealing with the press and the public and working with both sides of the aisle in the Legislature,” Krauss said. “It’s not just her education background, it’s that kind of experience you have to have.”

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