Four new City Council members joined the ranks of elected officials leading Missoula for the next year when Mayor John Engen swore in the City Council Tuesday.
Heather Harp, Jesse Ramos, Stacie Anderson and Julie Merritt, representatives of Wards 3, 4, 5 and 6 respectively, took their oaths of office in front of family and friends in City Council Chambers the day before they begin work at the weekly Wednesday committee meetings.
“Free parking on Wednesdays,” Engen cracked as Ward 1 representative Bryan von Lossberg signed his oath.
Von Lossberg and Ward 2 representative Jordan Hess are now the longest-serving members of the City Council, with one full term apiece. Three-term representatives Marilyn Marler and Jon Wilkins are not returning.
“There’s a pretty steep learning curve, so I’m excited to come in with a term behind me and get right to work,” Hess said, adding he was excited to have the new council members. “It’ll be a really good group to work with.”
One of the new representatives, Ramos, said he was feeling excited and confident the day before his first day of work.
He wanted to follow through on his campaign promises to look into the city budget and represent voters who backed the fiscally conservative triumvirate of Ramos, mayoral candidate Lisa Triepke and city council candidate Cathy Deschamps. Of the three, Ramos was the only one to win his election.
Ward 3 representative Harp took a couple of stabs at her oath with Engen patiently repeating lines as she nervously laughed.
“I’ve had some practice. It’s OK,” Engen said. Plus, he was reading it off the Oath of Office.
But Harp wasn’t nervous about starting work Wednesday.
“I feel like I’ve been working already,” she said. “The last couple of months I’ve been chomping at the bit.”
Harp and Ramos mentioned looking into the city’s recently reported budget error as their first priority. The council also will begin again the process of approving an Orchard Homes townhome development.
Officials sworn in Tuesday were:
Mayor – John Engen (fourth term)
Municipal Court Judge – Kathleen Jenks (second full term)
Ward 1 – Bryan von Lossberg (second term)
Ward 2 – Jordan Hess (second term)
Ward 3 – Heather Harp (first term)
Ward 4 – Jesse Ramos (first term)
Ward 5 – Stacie Anderson (first term)
Ward 6 – Julie Merritt (first term)