John Dibari filed Monday to run for the Missoula City Council’s open seat in Ward 4, tossing his hat into the ring three months after narrowly losing a straw poll to the seat’s sitting member, Patrick Weasel Head.
Filing to run for City Council opened Monday. By the close of business, three hopefuls had filed in three separate districts, including Heidi West in Ward 1 and Michelle Cares in Ward 6.
Dibari, a small-business owner who serves on the Missoula Consolidated Planning Board and the steering committee for the city’s new growth policy, said he was undeterred by the results of the February straw poll held by the City Council.
“It’ll be a greater diversity of people making the decision this time,” Dibari said. “It gives me more time to knock on doors and get to understand the needs of the neighborhood. I think this will be a much broader opportunity to talk with people and work through the process.”
Dibari holds a background in urban planning, one of top issues facing the city. The City Council is debating whether to extend the life of Urban Renewal District 3 and is expected to consider the issue later this year.
Southgate Mall has already asked the city to extend the district and the Missoula County Fairgrounds Advisory Committee will consider making a similar request in the months ahead.
“I think they’re very useful tools,” Dibari said of the city’s six urban renewal districts. “What’s going on at the south end of Brooks Street right now is the tip of the iceberg. It’s taken a long time to get to that point. We have a chance to leverage that investment.”
The Missoula Redevelopment Agency and the city’s Development Services both believe Missoula has entered a period of robust and sustainable growth.
The city is rewriting its growth policy to help shape that development – a process in which Dibari is closely involved.
“There are a number of things happening in the city right now,” Dibari said. “The growth policy is one of the most important things that will shape the future of what Missoula looks like and functions like.”
Dibari is vying for the seat left vacant by former Ward 4 council member Caitlin Copple. Among other things, Copple advocated for an open-access broadband network and the economic development it would bring.
Dibari vowed to continue that work. He also supports the city’s effort to take ownership of Mountain Water.
“My hope is that becomes a publicly held utility,” Dibari said. “We have to take a long-term view of it. In the long run, it’s going to be a benefit for the community.”
The filing deadline for the City Council is July 2.