Candidates in the Missoula City Council race will go head-to-head in a series of forums over the next two weeks.
The forums are divided among four nights, with one-on-one match-ups in each ward taking questions from the audience. The primary race last week eliminated three candidates, leaving two candidates remaining in each ward.
Despite the race being technically nonpartisan, each ward match-up is between candidates endorsed by the local Democratic committee and Republican committees. In the primary race last Tuesday, the three unendorsed candidates were eliminated.
In the primary, the candidates endorsed by the local Democratic committee held large leads over the Republican-endorsed competition.
The first forum is Wednesday evening between Ward 1 candidates Heidi West and Amber Shaffer. West, the incumbent, led the primary in her ward by a wide margin. Shaffer is running alongside conservative councilmember Jesse Ramos’ hand-picked candidates, despite being a Democrat herself.
Each forum will be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 140 W. Pine. The forums for Wards 5 and 6 will both be on Thursday, Sept 19. The forums will resume the following week, with Ward 3 and 4 meeting on Sept. 24, and Ward 2 on Sept 25.
To check which ward you are in, visit the Missoula County elections website at MissoulaVotes.com.
The forums are held by the city’s Office of Neighborhoods, and will be moderated by the local League of Women Voters chapter.
So far, many of the candidates have said the issue they’ve heard the most about from constituents is property taxes. With different candidates having different approaches to easing the burden of property tax, it is sure to be a subject of each forum. Another issue likely to come up is affordable housing.
Each candidate will have the opportunity to make opening and closing remarks, and will take questions from the audience throughout the forum.
Incumbents in Wards 1, 2 and 3 are defending their seats, while Wards 4, 5 and 6 will see newcomers on the council. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5.
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The forum schedule and candidates are:
Ward 1: Amber Shaffer and Heidi West
Ward 5: Alex Fregerio and John Contos
Ward 6: Nick Shontz and Sandra Vasecka
Ward 3: Drew Iverson and Gwen Jones
Ward 4: Amber Sherrill and Alan Ault
Ward 2: Mirtha Becerra and Brent Sperry