To lighten up the potentially dry City Council candidate Q&A's, The Missoulian posed one question to the candidates in a more unique manner (inspired by The Stranger's mayoral primary race coverage). Every candidate's answer is grouped below.
Marry, Boff, Kill: Urban Renewal Districts, Missoula Economic Partnership, Historic Preservation Commission
Bryan von Lossberg — Ward 1: “Marry, Boff, Kill?” Hmm. I married Genevieve. I love her. I try to find the good (in people, organizations, things). I’ll keep doing that. Call me old fashioned.
Jordan Hess — Ward 2: Urban Renewal Districts are the best economic development tool the City of Missoula has to shape development, make targeted investments in infrastructure projects, and create a more vibrant community. The Historic Preservation Commission is an essential group of advocates that keeps us grounded in our historic roots. The Missoula Economic Partnership creates and retains good-paying jobs by improving air service, conducting business outreach, and promoting wage growth. I reject the premise that I cannot support all three; the city must innovate, internally and with partners, to improve our community.
Jon Van Dyke — Ward 3: Each of them should be considered a tool to be used for the betterment of our community. We shouldn’t play favorites among our children, Missoulian! Though I wish they were as concerned with other buildings, the Historic Preservation Commission forced our community to seriously consider the demolition of the Merc in a deliberate manner viewing the unquantifiable value of the property. Urban Renewal Districts can rally community groups and businesses toward shared goals in specific locations, often more effectively than Missoula Economic Partnership on its own.
Heather Harp — Ward 3: Marry: the Urban Renewal Districts as they continue to revamp blighted areas with public dollars and in return provide economic sustainability for those areas. Boff: the Historic Preservation Commission has had its problems, but it seems like the ship has righted itself. Boff (I can’t imagine killing anyone!): the Missoula Economic Partnership is a great idea, but needs to present viable solutions that train and retain talent with living wages.
Thomas Winter — Ward 3: Our city is lucky to have dedicated individuals involved in all of these organizations and I don’t think any should be on the chopping block.
The Missoula Economic Partnership provides a valuable service in defining the goals of our business and civic communities as we grow.
Urban Renewal Districts allow for growth to be channeled and the necessary infrastructure funded correctly. I sympathize with the frustration that Tax Increment Finance funds distort the tax base, and I would like to see more judicious use of this.
The Historic Preservation Commission should have real power subject to rigorous oversight, serving as a guardian of our iconic buildings, but with a more professional, rather than volunteer, bent.
Jon Wilkins — Ward 4: Historic Preservation Commission: I think that should just be an advisory to the City Council. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s set up. It should only be advisory. Not really ending it, but ending power.
The Urban Renewal Districts I think are good, but we’re doing too many of them at the same time.
Missoula Economic Partnership: I think that’s very important for businesses and everything that’s involved in Missoula.
Chris Badgley — Ward 4: All three of these organizations have value in the correct circumstances. Managing historic resources keep Missoula’s history alive, when not a tax burden or blight to citizens. URDs provide opportunities to transform blighted or outdated areas into taxable and valued infrastructure. And innovative economic partnerships provide opportunities to attract new businesses and add community resources shared by all. We need to work together and communicate to find solutions to our mutual problems.
Jesse Ramos — Ward 4: I would like to start by saying that I do not condone the Missoulian’s use of the word “boff” in these questions. The phrase used was popularized by the TV show “30 Rock” and according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary has connotations that I believe are wholly inappropriate for political discussion.
Urban Renewals Districts are incredibly deceptive and mortgage the futures of the taxpayers by locking us into commitments that last several decades.
Missoula Economic Partnership has been a net positive for the community in helping recruit businesses and grow existing ones. However, I wish the head of the MEP lived in our city and truly believed in the community. That would allow them to better persuade people this is truly a great city to live in and be a part of.
The Historic Preservation Commission has an important place in our community as well, although I’m skeptical after Missoula Mercantile debacle.
Greg Strandberg — Ward 4: MEP … are you kidding me? This organization (along with the MRA … which has $17 million in miscellaneous expenses) has done more to drive Missoula into debt than anyone. And then they won’t even give you their detailed financial statements when you ask for them. Folks, red flags are blowing in the wind here. It’s time for answers … or did you just want to keep seeing your taxes go up year after year with nothing to show for it?
Stacie Anderson — Ward 5: While I appreciate the unique phrasing of this question, I don’t support the premise that any of these organizations or programs are expendable. Missoula is a vibrant and diverse community and it takes a variety of groups playing different roles to make our city thrive.
The Historic Preservation Commission is a vital link to Missoula’s past. Urban Renewal Districts revitalize specific sections of Missoula to combat blight. The Missoula Economic Partnership is continually looking at new ways to attract and sustain high paying jobs that benefit the community. We need all these groups to make sure Missoula works for everyone.
Julie Merritt — Ward 6: Recognizing that I still have a lot to learn about all three of these, I would say I like the Missoula Economic Partnership the most followed by Urban Renewal Districts. I would not say I dislike the Historic Preservation Commission; however I am confused about its role in city decisions. I wish there had been a better outcome on the development of the Merc site and I hope we can avoid similar conflicts in the future.