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 5, which generally includes southwest Missoula. The incumbent, Julie Armstrong, who is seeking a second term, did not submit answers to the Missoulian’s questionnaire.
John Contos: My wife Coleen and I moved to Missoula from the Boulder, Colorado, area in 1994 to help start a local church. We have three adopted children: Peter (30), Jacob (23), and Leilani (18). Coleen is a first-grade teacher at Chief Charlo Elementary, and I have a carpet cleaning business here in town.
While cleaning carpets people tell me they are not happy with rising taxes and how money is spent. For the most part it is not easy to make a great living here in Missoula. People work hard to earn their money. We need better responsibilities in the way money is spent.
I have learned a lot by raising three children with three different ethnic backgrounds, as well as running my business since 1991. I feel that I can help slow down or stop reckless spending. I can be patient, a good listener, and I am also good at working with people. My campaign is sponsored by Jesse Ramos.
Alex Fregerio: I was born in Kalispell and felt a love and appreciation for Montana at an early age. In 2004, I moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana and graduated in 2008. Since then I have worked as a teacher, in the construction industry, and for the past seven years as a business owner of Missoula Process Serving. I enjoy hunting and exploring all the beautiful public lands Montana has to offer, the occasional game of rugby with the Missoula Maggots, and spending time with my family.
As a resident and homeowner, I love this part of Missoula and want to see it continue to grow and prosper. New homes are being built at a rapid rate and the south end of Missoula is changing quickly before our eyes. A shifting landscape can often benefit from a change in leadership to examine the challenges of Ward 5 and Missoula as a whole with fresh eyes, new ideas, and creative solutions. I look forward to the challenge.
Being an effective communicator is a critical component of my profession and my ability to empathize and communicate with people from all walks of life will make me a welcome addition to the Missoula City Council. I firmly believe citizens of Missoula are hungry for more information and transparency about the decisions made by our local government, and as member of City Council I will make it a priority to improve communication between the City of Missoula and its residents.