Nancy Wilson has resigned her seat in the state Legislature, leaving Missoula County with a second interim seat to fill in the House of Representatives in two months.
Wilson, a Democrat, was elected to House District 97 in 2012 and served the first year of a two-year term. She retired after 28 years at the University of Montana on Dec. 20.
She said Monday she made a mistake last year by opting to accept state benefits through the Public Employees’ Retirement System when she signed up for her first term in the Legislature.
“When you retire, if you’re going to collect PERS, you have to resign from all your state jobs for 90 days,” said Wilson, who lives in south Missoula and spent the past 14 years as director of the Associated Students of UM transportation office. She also worked for the state in the governor’s office during the 1970s, she said.
“I was foolishly thinking: I’m about to retire, I should take PERS and add all the time I have (with the state) together. Turns out that was a really bad move.”
Wilson plans to file later this week for the House District 95 seat in the newly apportioned districts.
“I’ve learned a lot. I think I have a lot to give in the future, and I’m sorry this mix-up happened,” she said.
Missoula County commissioners in December appointed Andrew Person to fill the vacated seat of Rep. Jen Gursky in House District 98. Gursky resigned to take a job in Helena.
Person’s was one of three names forwarded by the Missoula County Democratic Central Committee to commissioners for consideration to fill out Gursky’s term. The other two were Chuck Erickson and Pam Walzer. All three said they plan to run for legislative office this year.
Dave Kendall, chairman of the Missoula County Democrats, said application forms for Wilson’s position will be posted at missoulademocrats.org soon. The central committee will make its three recommendations to county commissioners at its Jan. 14 meeting. Commissioners then have 15 days to appoint Wilson’s replacement.
Wilson said she has talked with former Missoula legislator Vivian Brooke about applying to fill out the rest of her term.
Wilson served on the House local government, taxation and transportation committees at the 2013 Legislature. Among the bills she sponsored was HB316, which would have added a 2 percent gas tax to benefit public transportation and road repair and add money to DUI task forces to provide late-night transportation. It died in committee along party lines.
Like Gursky, Wilson was on no interim legislative committees.
“I made sure not to sign up for any once I realized this was going to be a complication,” she said.
Her replacement for the rest of 2014 will have no legislative duties unless there’s a special session. That’s something Wilson said she doesn’t foresee.