Ward 1 encompasses the Rattlesnake, Downtown and Northside neighborhoods. One-term incumbent Bryan von Lossberg is running unopposed.
1. What is one positive aspect and one negative aspect of your ward? What would you do to change the negative? How would you foster more of the positive?
Ward 1 (Northside, Rattlesnake, Downtown) has phenomenal access to outdoor recreational opportunities with Missoula’s open space lands, nearby wilderness and rivers. How we prudently grow, manage and maintain those resources is a wonderful challenge to have. A negative: The Northside and Rattlesnake’s connectivity to the rest of town is lacking and problematic — i.e., A Rail Line Runs Through It. The Northside pedestrian bridge, the rail line crossing at Madison/Greenough Dr., and the Van Buren/Broadway intersection all need some good planning and infrastructure investment in the years ahead.
2. Is there a way to change the current budgeting process to better benefit citizens?
There’s always an opportunity for improvement and we’ve tweaked the council’s process for review of the Mayor’s budget and adoption of amendments each year. Communication and context — I’d wager we can always do a better job on those fronts. We’ll keep revising the process in order to make the best decisions possible for constituents. City taxes make up about 30 percent of property tax bills and understanding the complete picture around taxing entities, districts, and the interplay with appraisals from the Deptartment of Revenue can be confusing. We should do all we can to make it less so.
3. What are your thoughts on restriping proposed by the Fifth and Sixth streets study and the Higgins Avenue study — is there a better way to serve all modes of transportation on some of our busiest streets?
I’m not convinced that any one of the Fifth/Sixth streets restriping options is clearly the best solution. But a completed study will provide some useful reference data. The fiscal year 2018 budget did not fund a Higgins Avenue study — though I remain particularly interested in seeing if there’s a way to make better use of the limited space we have in the section from the Higgins Bridge through the Hip Strip. Sometimes there is a better way to serve all modes of transportation, but teasing out those solutions requires data, local neighborhood involvement and input, and a willingness to change. Change is hard.
4. What are your views on the city’s recent purchase of two private entities — Mountain Water Company and EKO Compost — and subsequent promises to invest heavily to upgrade them, ultimately bettering services for the community. Is this the job of the city, or is it overreaching?
I strongly supported both purchases. And they were quite different. Investment in the infrastructure of the water system is essential to the community, literally. Public ownership provides the opportunity to make the necessary investments at the least cost to ratepayers, with the greatest transparency and local control. EKO was looking to exit their operations, and the city’s purchase makes sense considering the long term view of revenue and expenses, not to mention control of the odor issues and protection of the Clark Fork River and aquifer.
5. Affordable housing is a near-constant concern in Missoula. What can (or should) the city do to help make housing more affordable?
There’s no shortage of possible strategies getting some degree of consideration — conditional incentives, set asides, lowering or waiving impact fees for affordable development, to name just a few. What I don’t yet know is what specific strategy or combination of options will likely yield the greatest benefit for the least cost. I’m not alone in looking forward to the results of the housing study commissioned by the city, county, Missoula Organization of Realtors, Missoula Economic Partnership, and Chamber of Commerce and strategic direction from the Office of Housing and Community Development. The accompanying robust advocacy and debate will help inform what resources we allocate, where and how.
6. Missoula’s full of outdoors opportunities and killer restaurants and breweries. What’s your favorite outdoor activity in town and where’s your favorite place to get food or a drink afterwards?
Toss-up: I love biking with our daughter to the Clark Fork Market on Saturdays and getting on the rivers for just about any activity. Don’t make me choose among the Top Hat, Caffe Dolce and Market on Front. I can’t.