Forrest is running

Mandeville enters fray for Secretary of State office
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, August 8, 2019
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Courtesy photo

Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus

When Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, searched his mind for who might be qualified to run for Montana Secretary of State, he eventually realized that candidate could be him.

Playing heavy in that realization was the fact that Mandeville has served on the House State Administration Committee in all three of his legislative sessions, and chaired the committee for the last two sessions. That committee hears election law bills, as well as bills relating to campaign finance — both of which are duties of the Secretary of State.

A lot of encouragement to run for the office at the GOP convention in June was also a factor in his decision. And through his work as a state legislator, he already knows many of the county Clerks & Recorders around the state — a group that the Secretary of State works with frequently for a myriad of reasons.

The need to create a better working relationship between the office and clerk & recorders around the state is something Mandeville identified as being high on his priority list.

In addition to understanding election law, Mandeville said he has established good working relationships with stakeholder groups involved in the policies of the office. Those groups include clerk & recorders, business owners, notary publics and election watchdog groups, to name a few.

“When considering these qualifications, I kept coming back to why wouldn’t I run?” Mandeville told the News this week. “After talking to family and praying about it for most of this year, we made the decision to enter the race.”


Mandeville, 35, is a Columbus native who holds a master’s degree in public administration from Montana State University-Billings and a bachelor’s of arts in political science from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Calif.

He was first elected to office in 2015 and has served on the Human Services and Rules Committees, the Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee and the State Administration Committee.

The latter committee also deals with public employee retirement systems and benefits, public contracts, military affairs and veterans’ issues and state buildings — all which deepen Mandeville’s understanding of the issues that are important to Montanans, he said.

“I am a strong advocate for secure and accessible elections, ensuring a friendly business climate, and protecting Montana jobs through the responsible development of natural resources,” Said Mandeville. “In my role as Secretary of State I will continue my work on these important issues.”

Mandeville is a small business owner, working in land use planning. He also served as a planner for Stillwater County. He and wife, Rebekah, have three young children.


The Secretary of State is one of six executive branch officers originally designated by the Montana Constitution of 1889. The duties of the office include the following:

•Interpreting state election laws and overseeing elections.

•Maintaining the official records of the executive branch and the acts of the legislature. •Reviewing, maintaining and distributing public-interest records of businesses and nonprofit organizations.

•Filing administrative rules adopted by state departments, boards, and agencies.

•Attesting to the governor’s signature on executive orders, proclamations, resolutions, extradition papers, and appointments.

•Preserving the state seal.

•Filing and maintaining records of secured financial transactions, such as liens.

•Serving on the state Board of Land Commissioners and the Board of Examiners.

•Commissioning notaries public.

The office is divided into five divisions:

•Administrative Rules of Montana

•Business Services

•Notary Services

•Elections and Government

•Records and Information Management

Current Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is running for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat.

One other Republican candidate has filed for the office, outgoing Montana Senate President Scott Sales of Bozeman. He and Mandeville will face-off in the Primary Election.

State Sen. Bryce Bennett of Missoula is seeking the Democratic nomination for the office.

“I am a strong advocate for secure and accessible elections, ensuring a friendly business climate, and protecting Montana jobs through the responsible development of natural resources,” said Mandeville. “In my role as Secretary of State, I will continue my work on these important issues. The only Democrat currently in the race is notoriously lackadaisical on issues of election security. I take the issue of election and ballot security very seriously, and will continue to do so as Secretary of State.”