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 4, which generally includes southeast Missoula, and previously was represented by DiBari.
Alan Ault: I have been a resident of Missoula for 19 years. Now retired, I have been a successful businessman with oil and chemical companies 30-plus years. As a Missoula resident I have started the nonprofit Missoula Montana Auto Tech working with area high school students. My wife Nanette is a local business owner as a periodontist.
I am running for City Council to bring government spending under control, therefore easing taxpayers’ burdens. Missoula residents are continuing to pay increasing taxes for unnecessary bridges, new banks, various retail locations and new hotels as local businesses suffer. Because of this, I am extremely concerned as it is becoming even more expensive to live here for seniors and renters. In addition, our roads are in terrible condition, adding to our increasing road congestion and air pollution.
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I feel I am the best candidate for this ward because I am a retired businessman and align a lot of my thinking with the ideas and actions of Jesse Ramos, who supports my campaign. I firmly believe that it is time to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to the Missoula City Council.
Amber Sherrill: My husband Colin and I have lived in Ward 4 for 19 years, raising our two teenage daughters here. For the past two years I served as the interim executive director of Five Valleys Land Trust, taking the lead in bringing the 2018 Open Space Bond to the ballot, campaigning for its success, while building and maintaining a strategic and tight budget, and developing strong partnerships. I previously served on the boards of Five Valleys Land Trust, the Missoula Economic Partnership, the Montana Association of Land Trust, and the Missoula County Land Use Technical Advisory Committee.
When I learned we were losing a great Ward 4 representative in John DiBari, I felt it was important to throw my hat in the ring. During the Open Space Bond campaign, I became acutely aware of the many competing interests and pressing concerns Missoula is now facing. Increasing population growth, affordable housing, climate change mitigation, an evolving recreational and tourism-based economy, the growing disparity between wages and home prices and, of course, property taxes are all things that I believe will require a strategic and collaborative approach.
I believe my experience leading a successful nonprofit, both as interim executive director and board president, and spearheading a successful bond campaign, as well as my demonstrated commitment to community service, and most importantly the fact that I love and care about the City of Missoula, all make me the best candidate for Ward 4. My goal is to ensure that Missoula continues to be a place that future generations are both able and proud to call home.
Greg Strandberg: I’m 37 years old with a wife and two young kids. I first moved to Missoula in 2001. I have a degree in history, publish books on Amazon, and work a few part-time jobs around town.
I’m running for office because taxes are too high. This hurts working families. I also feel the city can do a better job plowing snow and fixing potholes.
I love digging into our city’s 384-page budget. I’d love to talk with our 18 departments about that budget. I’d love to get city spending under control so taxes work for you again. That’s why I encourage you to vote for me this fall.