Ward 5 includes the southwest section of the Southgate Triangle, South 39th Street, Miller Creek and Moose Can Gully neighborhoods. Cathy Deschamps and Stacie Anderson are running for the seat vacated by one-term representative Annelise Hedahl. Cathy Deschamps did not return a questionnaire.
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?
One of Ward 5’s most exciting and positive aspects is its growth. With the new housing development slated to go in next to the new Cold Springs Elementary school, my neighborhood will be the epicenter of new home development in Missoula. With Missoula’s affordable housing inventory continuously shrinking, these new developments are more essential than ever. However, with additional growth comes additional traffic and congestion. One solution I would propose is an increase of Mountain Line services to the arterial routes within Miller Creek and Linda Vista to help alleviate traffic congestion.
2. Is there a way to change the current budgeting process to better benefit citizens?
Creating more transparency throughout the budgeting process should be a goal of the City Council. If elected, I would work to open up the budgeting process by planning workshops to solicit community input and ideas on what programs Missoulians feel should be prioritized and how their tax dollars should be allocated.
Additionally, I want to work with the mayor and city department heads on a proposed idea of a comprehensive online dashboard, where citizens can quickly see where their money is being invested. Budget decisions should in part be data-driven, but also reflect our community’s values.
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?
These studies were proposed because the neighborhood felt it was increasingly unsafe to cross the street due to speed. This is an example of a grassroots effort by a neighborhood trying to address a local problem. We have to be creative in accommodating all modes of transportation. Doing so will benefit the entire city in terms of both air quality and traffic congestion. It is important that the gateways to our downtown area remain open. If we can facilitate more bike and pedestrian traffic from the neighborhoods surrounding downtown, this would alleviate car traffic and make it easier for people from Ward 5 to get downtown and find parking.
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 believe the city of Missoula is one of the most important economic generators in Missoula County and the purchase of Mountain Water is in the best long-term interest of Missoula. Our community needs to have local control of its natural resources and be able to control the quality and price of a necessary service.
In the case of EKO Compost, the owner approached the city to inquire whether there was interest in purchasing the business. This is an important bridge between the private and public sectors in business, as well as an opportunity to make sure this resource continues to be there as a benefit for all Missoulians.
5. Affordable housing is a near-constant concern in Missoula. What can (or should) the city do to help make housing more affordable?
The lack of affordable housing in Missoula requires a multi-pronged approach. We must support and incentivize programs like the Montana Idaho Community Development Corporation and other programs that provide education, resources and financial support to Missoulians looking to own a home.
Missoula must also look at city zoning and regulations and invest in a variety of housing options, including duplexes, single-family homes and revitalizing older homes. Additionally, we should look at streamlining and incentivizing building permits for developers who are working on affordable housing projects. Missoula is not a one-size-fits-all city and the City Council should be an advocate for solutions that best serve Missoula.
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?
One thing I love about living in Missoula is being able to get up from the kitchen table and be at one of my favorite fishing spots in a matter of minutes. Access to outdoor recreational opportunities is a key Missoula value. Additionally it provides over $7 billion to the Montana economy annually. And after a long day outdoors, you can’t beat a bloody Mary up at Snowbowl or a romantic dinner at Finn and Porter, the restaurant where Mark and I had our first date. Missoula has a lively food scene and our community has a strong value of supporting local and sustainably sourced goods and products.