Dear friends,

The news is hard to read these days, because little of it seems good.

Some of the institutions I’ve believed in since I was a kid growing up on Second Street in Missoula seem to be crumbling. Gargantuan egos, cowardice, downright meanness seem to rule most days in the White House and halls of Congress. The majority of our Montana Legislature seems content to follow rather than lead, leaving lots of our friends and neighbors suffering as a consequence of inaction or deliberate effort. Pretty gloomy.

But, in the wake of running a local campaign that was nastier than any in my experience, and winning, I have hope. I think that when people support good candidates who put service above themselves, things can change. Government can be effective. We can lift each other up. Our better selves can prevail.

I’ll give you an example: Jon Tester. Senator Tester, while currently in the minority party in Washington, D.C., continues to work effectively to enact laws that make lives better for Montanans and for folks all over this country. He’s tough, smart, practical, hard-working and understands that his job is more about service and less about the spotlight. He’s a bit old-fashioned in all of the right ways.

But this letter isn’t about the senator. It’s about Grant Kier, who shares the strength of character that makes leaders like Jon Tester effective. Grant is a friend. I’ve worked closely for years with Grant as we put community conservation values to work in Missoula and around western Montana. I’ve known Grant to sit at a kitchen table with a landowner whose political views may have been 180 degrees from his own and have a practical conversation that produced a winning solution for everyone.

It ain’t about ego for Grant Kier. It’s about service. It’s about working to ensure the place he loves gets better for all of us and for generations to come. It’s about compassion for those who need it, equity for folks of all walks of life, fairness, common sense and hard work. It’s about the stuff we value as Missoulians, Montanans, and citizens of the United States.

Grant wants to replace Greg Gianforte in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I believe he should. And can.

I just don’t buy the notion that a Democrat from Missoula doesn’t have a chance in a statewide election. I didn’t buy it when folks said a farmer from Big Sandy couldn’t beat Conrad Burns.

Turns out Montanans are smart, and when they know enough about a candidate, they make independent choices based on the facts. The facts are on Grant Kier’s side. He’ll work harder to win this election so he can serve us better than anyone I know. With our help, he can give Montanans a clear, better choice than a rich bully with a dangerous agenda.

I’m asking you to join me in giving Grant all the support you can by funding his campaign, volunteering to make calls on his behalf, hosting listening sessions with him, telling your friends about him and, ultimately, voting for him.

Good people can still win elections in Montana. And they can provide the visionary leadership that often goes missing in the places where we need it. As corny as it may sound, Grant gives me hope for the future of Montana. He helps me see through the gloom.

Thanks for all you’ve done for me. Now, let’s do something for all of us by supporting Grant Kier for Congress.

John Engen is mayor of Missoula. 

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