HELENA — Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen was a featured speaker at 2021 Montana American Legion Boys State on Monday morning, educating some 90 teenagers about the responsibilities of the Secretary of State and the office’s role in local government.
Secretary Jacobsen discussed the duties of each division of the Office of the Secretary of State — Administrative Rules of Montana, Business Services, Election and Government, Notary Services, Operations, and Records and Information Management — and explained how each division operates within the state capitol. She also discussed her role as a member of the Montana Land Board, raising money for schools across the state.
Students also asked a number of questions, ranging from topics about the elections process to a typical day as Secretary of State.
“You don’t always see them in person talking; it’s either quotes and articles or second-hand experiences of those same quotes and articles,” said Whitefish graduate Luca Welle. “I think it’s really cool to be able to ask these kinds of questions, and to be able to have a little more insight into our political processes.”
“It was awesome to be part of Boys State and to answer questions, really good questions that all of our youth have. It was an honor to be part of the whole experience,” said Secretary Jacobsen.
Montana American Legion Boys State was established in 1947 and the annual event was held in Dillon until 2004. Helena became the host in 2005, allowing attendees to utilize the state capitol, while also hearing from elected officials throughout the week. The event typically hosts incoming high school seniors, but due to cancellation of the 2020 event during the pandemic, outgoing seniors were also invited to the 2021 event.
Boys State attendees practice the operation of local, county, and state government by holding their own elections, city and county meetings, legislative sessions, and court proceedings, among other events, throughout the week.
“It has actually crossed my mind to someday enter into politics,” said Welle. “An issue that I’m very passionate about is everything related to the environment, and I feel like, someday, if it works into my career, being able to make those changes from a public elected office would be a great opportunity.”
Each year, two Montana delegates are selected to attend American Legion Boys Nation, which celebrates its 75th session this year. The national event begins July 23 at Marymount University in Arlington, Va.