Published December 15, 2021
Hello Fellow Commissioners and Elected Officials,
My name is Jason Strouf, and I am proud to introduce myself as your MACo President, a position to which I was elected and assumed during the annual conference in September.
A big THANK YOU goes out to all MACo staff for their hard work in assembling and executing a very successful and informational conference in Kalispell as well as the recent elected officials training in Helena. These were the closest to normal events that we’ve had since the annual convention in 2019, and I hope all of you who were able to attend benefited from the information that was presented.
A little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Miles City graduating High school (CCDHS) in 1990. I completed my undergraduate work at MSU-Bozeman (GO CATS!) and went on to do my graduate work at The Ohio State University (GO BUCKS!). In 1995 my partner and best friend (Toni) and I were wed in Chico Hot Springs.
Our honeymoon consisted of packing all of our belongings into a moving truck and driving out to Columbus, OH. Along the way the transmission on our U-Haul went out, during rush hour on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, IL. Needless to say she has stuck with me through that and maybe a couple more stressful times. We have three beautiful/awesome children, Taja’ (Joe) Herzog, Haylee Strouf, and Jacob Strouf.
Moving forward as an association we have work to continue to do. I challenged all of the attendees at the annual conference and now I extend that challenge to the whole membership: we must break down the walls of stigma regarding coping with anxiety and depression. These issues are extremely common and individuals that struggle with this need to know they are not alone and that it does not mean that something is “wrong” with them. I ask all of you to seek out conversations regarding this in your communities and don’t wait for them to come to you. Let’s get this issue to the point where it is as natural to talk about anxiety and depression as it is to talk about the weather and any other issue we discuss on a daily basis.
The next legislative session will be here shortly. During the 2021 session state Senators and Representatives made it clear they want to hear directly from Commissioners regarding topics and issues that are being debated. Eric, Jason, and Shantil do a tremendous job representing the interests of county government; however that does not replace the impact we can have as local elected officials.
Get involved, engage your Senators and Representatives and develop relationships before the next session starts. MACo has a well-established resolution process to bring forth topics to have MACo support and lobby to get passed and/or topics to have MACo discourage and educate why they may not be good/desirable for local government. This process starts early so engage with the MACo committees and ask for guidance if you are not familiar with the process. MACo is our association and it will only be as strong as our membership.
I recently completed making appointments to our MACo committees, which will be announced shortly, in time for the committees to convene at our upcoming Midwinter Conference. I welcome insight and discussion from any member, especially those who have chaired or vice chaired committees. With regards to the NACo appointments, my desire is to align those to coincide with NACo’s request for those appointees in June and make the full list of appointments in May of 2022. If members have interest in getting involved with NACo please let that be known.
Lastly, we have very active member associations. These are the associations that represent the various elected officials for local government. These folks are part of our family and offer tremendous insight into their responsibilities associated with their offices. If you didn’t participate in the the elected officials training, I encourage you to take part in it next year. The training is not just for newly elected folks–standing officials are encouraged to attend as well. We learn from each other and having seasoned elected officials who can convey experiences they have had makes the training more applicable for all.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity, and I look forward to working with all of you during this coming year!
Custer County Commissioner