Havre Daily News/Tim Leeds
Pam Bucy, candidate for Montana attorney general, speaks during the Hill County Democratic Party's Pasma-Peck Dinner Friday.
Pam Bucy, candidate for Montana attorney general, said in a speech in Havre that the values she learned growing up in Townsend are part of her desire to protect and aid residents of the state.
“I come from hard-working blue-collar stock, ” she said during the Hill County Democratic Party’s Pasma-Peck Dinner in Havre Friday. “Though my parents couldn’t give us a lot in material goods, what they did teach me very clearly was, with a little hard work and determination and good faith, you can accomplish just about anything you wanted, and so far in my life that is true. ”
Bucy said, as a mother, daughter and granddaughter, one of her highest priorities in running for attorney general is providing protection to Montana communities.
“Ensuring that Montana’s communities and safe and viable, and economically viable places, to live, work and play is critically important to me, and I know the important role that the attorney general’s office plays in ensuring safe communities, ” she said.
She said working for seven years as former Attorney General Mike McGrath’s chief deputy attorney has given her broad experience in the office.
“It allowed me to very much stretch my wings professionally and work on so many cases, ” she said, adding that during the last legislative session she worked closely with Gov. Brian Schweitzer and focused on Montana’s middle class, especially the state’s union workers.
She said in her career she literally has prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases.
“I have taken crime victims to hospitals, to shelters. I have sat beside them at trial where they have had to relive some of the worst and most excruciating experiences in their life, so I know what it means to hold criminal defendants accountable, ” Bucy said.
But, she added, what that also has taught her is the need for social justice. That has led her to spend much of her 14-year legal career working with local law enforcement agencies — on her website is a lengthy list of county and city attorney and law enforcement chiefs and officers endorsing her campaign — and the Legislature for creation of programs like community mental health treatment facilities, treatment courts and mental health courts.
“I assure you, the last thing that law enforcement wants to do is put someone who is mentally ill in jail, or someone intoxicated or someone that has addiction problems …, ” Bucy said. “I think this year we have several models in the state and can go back to the Legislature and show them it is very economical to treat people in their communities. It is much cheaper than incarceration in any kind of institution. ”
She said she also has worked on many civil cases. One example she gave was when the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state over its state public defender system. Bucy said that, after taking 85 depositions, the attorney general’s office realized the ACLU might be right.
“We determined that it really was in the best interest of the state of Montana to settle, and then to go to the Legislature with the public defenders and social justice advocates and create a new public defender system for the state of Montana, ” she said. “That’s the kind of work the attorney general’s office can do, and that’s the kind of experience I bring to the table. ”