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ELECTION 2021

Missoula Ward 6 candidate Kristen Jordan running on a platform of criminal justice reform and unity

From the 2021 Missoula City Council candidates series
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Kristen Jordan

Kristen Jordan will represent Ward 6 for Missoula's city council after securing 72.21% of votes cast in the election, claiming the victory over her opponent Tom Taylor.

Running a campaign based on criminal justice reform and finding data-driven solutions to problems, Kristen Jordan is looking to represent Ward 6 in city council.

Most recently the director of Missoula County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, she was a key part of the process that brought the mobile crisis unit — a pairing of an emergency medical technician and a mental health professional to assist with mental health situations — into existence.

Jordan, a University of Montana alumna, also said she wants citizens to feel like they have some degree of input on decisions.

"There's kind of the overall approach I want to take to any issue, which is data-driven decision making," she said. "I am a metrics person and I like to see metrics attached to programs and money spent to find out how we can tweak a program, if it's being effective, what we can do differently. I also really want to focus on unity. I lived overseas for 14 years and came back to a really divided America."

Working with Missoula County, Jordan spent significant time working on a MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice challenge grant, which seeks to solve jail overcrowding.

Part of her job was working with data that suggested Missoula County needed a mobile crisis unit. She was part of a group that was able to secure state, county and city funds for that project.

If elected, she would push for further data collection from law enforcement to get a better picture of what's happening locally in that arena. Additionally, she'd like to see a "prosecutorial dashboard" that would show what types of cases the city attorney's office is pursuing.

She would push for better and more pretrial support as opposed to pretrial supervision, she said.

She also suggested a "court kiosk," which would be placed in an easily accessible location in a neutral space, such as the public library. The way she described it, citizens could go there and check to see if they had any court fines or fees as well as warrants.

Basically, a place where someone could easily access their legal data.

"I had a lead with a software developer who was willing to work on that for free and I'd like to pick that lead back up if I'm elected," Jordan said. "(I also want) the legal system to ensure public safety, but just making sure the folks who are in the legal system don't come out with a bunch of unintended consequences that make it harder for them to get back and engaged in society.

"They've served their time, they've paid their price, they need to be able to jump right back in where they were, if not in a better place than they were in."

Jordan is a big proponent of parks and called them a "great equalizer," where those who are wealthy and those who are poor have equal access to the resource.

While she has much to learn on zoning and development, many people she has talked to understand the need for more affordable housing, but have told her they would like to be "more in the loop" as to what the city is doing, she said.

On homelessness, she wants to give people a safe, clean place to live and would look for creative solutions to the issue, she said. She also wants people to have options on how they live.

Tax increment financing needs to "work better" for average people, she said. She praised the city for using those funds to buy the Bridge Street Apartment Building.

"I think there are things and programs I'd like to look into deeper," Jordan said. "I think that the heart of Missoula city is in the right place."

Jordan has been endorsed by the Missoula County Democrats and the Western Montana Democratic Socialists of America. She is running against Tom Taylor for the Ward 6 seat.

Council members are paid $1,249 per month — around $14,990 per year — and serve a four-year term. Six council seats are open this year.

The Missoulian is profiling candidates in this year's contested City Council races.

Jordan Hansen covers news and local government for the Missoulian. Shout at him on Twitter @jordyhansen or send him an email at Jordan.Hansen@Missoulian.com

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