Sixteen candidates, including four incumbents, are vying for a seat in each of Missoula’s six City Council wards, with mail-in primary ballots due by Sept. 10.

Four of the wards have three candidates, and the City Council voted to hold primaries in those wards on Sept. 10 before the Nov. 5 general election. Each ward has two representatives with staggered four-year terms. The job pays $15,478 annually, and includes city health insurance.

Two current council members — John DiBari and Michelle Cares — decided against running for re-election.

The candidates were asked for a brief biography, the top two reasons they are running for office, and the reason they are the best person for the position. We will run each response by ward so our readers can compare the candidates side by side. Their responses are in their own words, and they have been edited for Associated Press style and length.

Today, we bring you Ward 2, which generally includes northwest Missoula.

Mirtha Becerra: I moved to Missoula in 2002. After completing a master's in urban planning, I worked for the City and County of Missoula for five years as a land use and transportation planner. I was appointed to the City Council in November 2017, and have enjoyed working on issues related to affordable housing, land use and development, and transportation. As a mother of two, I hope that in the future, Missoula will grow and thrive in ways that will afford the next generation of Missoulians many opportunities to be successful.

I feel strongly that a thoughtful implementation of our proposed Housing Policy is critical to the future of Missoula for current and future residents. Secondly, I believe a carefully considered and intentionally designed transportation grid is essential to the vitality of our community, particularly in the neighborhoods west of Reserve Street and north of Mullan Road, which is where most of the future development in Missoula is expected to occur. We are at a critical point in Missoula’s growth, and we need to be thoughtful and intentional about transportation and development decisions so that we retain Missoula’s beauty and character.

I have a decade of experience and extensive education in land use and transportation planning. My education and professional experience, combined with two years on the City Council, puts me in a good position to lead the council on these issues. Education and forward-thinking planning is the best tool we have to create a livable community.

Brent Sperry: I am a fourth-generation Missoula native and could not imagine living anywhere else. It has been an incredible place to raise my three children. My wife Brandee and I love the outdoor opportunities that Missoula and the surrounding areas provide.

One of the myriad of reasons I have decided to run for City Council is the unsustainable increase in property taxes during the past many years in Missoula. These tax increases, year after year, are putting an overwhelming burden on our citizens. Missoula is in desperate need of fiscal responsibility with an emphasis on services like road maintenance and police and fire protection.

With your support I can become another voice to help break the tax-and-spend mentality. My campaign is supported by the only fiscally conservative council member who advocates for lower taxes and more efficient spending, Jesse Ramos. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Missoula.

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