HELENA — A Republican state lawmaker from Billings has announced her resignation, citing the challenges of serving and the strain on her mental health.
Rep. Mallerie Stromswold released a statement to journalists Saturday, announcing she would immediately step down as representative for House District 50.
“Serving the Billings community has been an incredible privilege that I don't take lightly,” she said in the statement. “The people I've met along this journey taught me so much, and I've developed many friendships I'll keep with me throughout my life.”
Stromswold was one of Montana’s youngest lawmakers – 19 – when elected to her first term in 2020. In her letter, she said she was proud to bring a different perspective to legislative debates, as a young female college student. However, she also cited the challenge of affording to be a student and legislator at the same time, keeping two homes and traveling between them. In addition, she said she had “faced significant backlash from members of my caucus because I did not fall in line.”
“It is clear that I cannot serve House District 50 the way I want to while protecting my mental health,” she said. “The Montana Legislature was designed for people - often men - who have flexible schedules with steady and significant incomes. But our state is so much more than one type of person. Legislative systems need to adapt so that more young people, students, single parents, and those living on low incomes can serve. It is also critical that Representatives focus more on policy solutions and less on party divisiveness.”
In November, the Montana Free Press reported that Stromswold had written a letter withdrawing from her reelection campaign in August, but it was not submitted before a required deadline, and she later decided to continue in the race.
A spokesperson for the House Republican majority released a statement in response to Stromswold’s letter.
“Rep. Stromswold has announced her intent to resign, and House leadership wishes her well in all future endeavors,” it said.
This was the second Republican lawmaker to step down this week. On Wednesday, Rep. Doug Flament, R-Lewistown, submitted his letter of resignation to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office. In it, he said he had been diagnosed with a serious health issue and had to leave the state to have it treated.
“I wish for all of my colleagues who work hard for the people of Montana to instill the conservative values we share, to have a successful and productive session,” he said in the letter.
Flament had not been in Helena for the first days of the legislative session. He was initially appointed to represent House District 29 – which includes most of Fergus County and all of Petroleum County – in December 2021, replacing Dan Bartel, who had taken a seat in the state Senate. Flament was elected to the seat in November.
House GOP leadership said in a statement on Flament’s resignation, “We appreciate his service to the great state of Montana and wish him well.”
When a legislative seat becomes vacant, three nominees for the position are selected by the county central committee or committees for the party that currently holds the seat – in this case, Republican committees in Yellowstone County for District 50 and Fergus and Petroleum Counties for District 29. County commissioners will then select the new legislator from that list of nominees.
Typically, the appointment process can take up to two months, but when the Legislature is in session, state law requires it to be completed within 15 days.