City Council Races will be Competitive with a Primary Possible
The deadline for applying to run for a Missoula City Council seat was Monday, June 17, and there is renewed interest in becoming a part of city government with new candidates for all six city wards.
Ward Four’s Jesse Ramos has been actively recruiting candidates since February, when he wrote a guest column in both the Missoulian newspaper, the Missoula Current online news and on Facebook.
“I was just asking if folks would be interested in serving on the City Council that wanted to see more fiscal responsibility and wanted to see the tax burden reduced,” said Ramos, who many times votes in the minority in council issues. “I didn’t stipulate based on party (the council is non-partisan) nor on any sort of crazy loyalty to me. I just wanted to see if they had an interest in seeing a change in city council and to see our tax dollars spent in a more efficient way.”
Ramos said the response was overwhelming.
“I had about 60 people reach out to me over the course of two to three months and we were able to whittle it down to one candidate for each of the city’s six wards,” he said. “I’m super excited for the citizens of Missoula because I think if we can get some more folks in there then I think these candidates can make their lives a lot better and make Missoula a more affordable place to live for the folks that grew up here, to make it a city for all and not just for the super wealthy.”
In Ward 1 the candidates are incumbent Heidi West and challengers Elizabeth Weaver and Amber Shaffer. For Ward 2, they are Mirtha Becerra and Brent Sperry. For Ward 3, incumbent Gwen Jones is running against both Dakota Hileman and Drew Iverson. In Ward 4, the candidates are Greg Strandberg, Amber Sherrill and Alan Ault. Ward 5 candidates include incumbent Julie Armstrong, Alex Fregerio and John Contos. For ward 6, the candidates are Nick Shontz and Sandra Veseka.
According to an email sent to the city council, Mayor Engen is proposing that a primary election be held for any ward with more than two candidates, stating ‘in cases where there are more than two candidates for any elected municipal office, primary elections are a mechanism that refines voter intention by eliminating the potential outcome of a candidate taking a seat without a majority.’
Elections Administrator Dayna Causby confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that a primary election could cost the city upwards of $50,000.