Part of our Montana values means respect for all our neighbors, be they friends, strangers, colleagues, public servants or constituents. Our mayor has shown a total disregard for this principle throughout his administration — whether it is the total lack of transparency in government dealings, ouster of the everyday taxpayer from the political process, irresponsible economic policies that punish working families, or simply the slovenly and irreverent manner our city’s leader adopts in the civic arena.
While the mayor has enjoyed watching his compensation swell to well over six figures in salary and benefits amidst unprecedented tax burdens on Missoula homeowners, the average household income for Missoulians has fallen by $4,000. Clearly, something is rotten in City Hall. Missoula can no longer afford to treat the office of mayor as a PR gig and miniature fiefdom for an incumbent who has shown little more than apathy and disrespect for the responsibilities of public office. This is why Lisa Triepke could not be more correct when she says “enough is enough.”
It seems fitting that the mayor’s challenger would exemplify the economic reality faced by our city’s working families. A single mom with a full-time job and four busy kids to care for, Triepke, like many Missoulians, even took a part-time serving job on the side to help support her family in the city’s cost of living crisis. In a recent Missoulian article, Triepke remarked of her children: “They learned the hard way that they don’t get everything they ask for anymore because we have to make ends meet and pay the bills.” Sounds like City Hall could take a lesson there.
Lisa Triepke’s stark contrast to the incumbent is not just economic. It takes only a brief conversation with Triepke to see she’s the real deal: she knows what it means to budget, understands the realities of the working Montanan and has the foresight to acknowledge that the city’s path is unsustainable. She balances a passion for public service with a keen understanding of proper government. She thinks the mayor’s first duty is to her constituents, and her goal of transparency and cohesion between the local government and its citizens is a welcome concept for an office where concern for the average Missoulian has taken a backseat for over a decade.
Whereas the office of mayor has evolved into a stand-up comedy special, a quick glance at Triepke's resume shows that her administration couldn’t be more different. Whether it is the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Missoula Chamber of Commerce, Five Valleys Land Trust or the UM Foundation, Triepke's professional docket shows her ability to lead in a position encompassing high morals, fiscal responsibility for other people’s money and a commitment to public service.
It’s not just the middle-class families left behind by City Hall that have her ear — Triepke’s commitment to addressing the needs of veterans, the homeless, senior citizens and the children of Missoula is as strong as her commitment to business owners, entrepreneurs and homeowners. The diversity of supporters she has assembled during her campaign is staggering, and speaks to her ability to bring together a wealth of perspectives, talents and abilities.
Too long has Missoula grown complacent with taking a submissive role to the whims and wants of the mayor. Too long has unchecked taxation and obese spending crippled hopes for a prosperous city. Too long have we grown accustomed to jokes, waste and frivolity instead of effective government and responsible leadership.
The work is more than cut out for the next mayor — and Lisa Treipke is the woman for the job.