Big Sky Roundup

UPDATED: Art Noonan replacement Jennifer Lynch follows father’s footsteps

By: - September 26, 2022 2:09 pm

A view of downtown Butte is seen through a car window on July 6, 2017 in Butte, Montana. (Photo by Janie Osborne/Getty Images)

Jennifer Lynch said Monday her late father, Butte legislator J.D. Lynch, would say she’s “crazy” for getting into politics. 

“This is going to be one of the toughest legislative sessions in our state’s history, but I think he’d be very proud,” Lynch said. 

This weekend, Butte-Silver Bow County Democrats selected Lynch, the local teacher’s union negotiation chairperson, as a replacement for the late Art Noonan as their candidate in House District 73 in Butte.

Former legislator and executive director for the Montana Democratic Party Noonan died of a heart attack at 70 years old last week, according to reporting from the Montana Free Press.

Lynch, who filed as a candidate Monday according to the Secretary of State’s website, is running against Republican Jason Freeman. Freeman wasn’t immediately available for comment Monday afternoon by telephone. 

In a phone interview, Lynch said it felt great to be selected, though under unfortunate circumstances. 

“It’s obviously never the way you want to get into something like this, something as tragic as the loss of Art,” Lynch said. 

She said the process went quickly as Democrats had five days to make a selection, with Lynch being one of three choices. She said Democrats gathered at the East Side Athletic Club on Sunday, and after hearing short speeches and doing a question and answer session, voted to nominate Lynch. 

“I’m ready to start campaigning and working hard,” Lynch said. 

Negotiation Chairperson for the Butte Teacher’s Union and in her eighth year teaching, Lynch is following her father’s legacy in representing Butte, her hometown.

J.D. Lynch served in the legislature for 30 years, first elected at 22 years old in 1969, according to NBC Montana. He died in 2018.

Lynch said education would be one of the issues she would focus on in the Montana Legislature if elected.

“Definitely fighting to keep public schools funded and keeping qualified teachers in the classroom,” she said. 

Other issues on her radar include women’s rights and access to public lands. 

“I basically grew up in the Capitol with my dad, so this is something that is in my blood, and it’s something that I’ve grown up knowing I would do,” she said.

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.