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 6 in West Missoula, where Cares decided against seeking a second term.
Sandy Vasecka: I am a proud third-generation Missoulian and graduate of Sentinel High School. While attending Montana State University, I was elected president of the MSU Toastmasters Club, where I gained valuable communication skills, and graduated in 2014 with two bachelor’s degrees, in business management and marketing. I started my career in Missoula as the executive assistant for Jacobsen Agency LLC, while simultaneously volunteering as an election judge and administratively helping my husband and father-in-law with their company, Vasecka Flooring Inc.
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I am running for the Ward 6 seat because of our never-ending property tax increases and the irresponsible spending of our tax dollars. I see that our core fundamentals like schools, police, fire and infrastructure are being put on the back burner in place of special projects while leaving lifelong residents to pick up the bill. My campaign and my fiscally conservative ideals parallel and are supported by the lone independent thinker currently on the council, Jesse Ramos.
I will put our citizens first, I have a willingness to learn, and I am a proponent of being financially responsible. Helping run a business as well as a household, I understand that sacrifices must be made to sustain a well-balanced budget. I am empathetic, and great at problem solving while being diplomatic. I promise to protect what matters most to Missoula taxpayers —where their money is being spent, and I will help to ensure our city fiscally thrives for the generations to come.
Nick Shontz: I have lived in Missoula for 17 years, am an active member of the River Road Leadership Team, and have served a term as community forum representative. After spending 11 years at the University of Montana, I started a small software business in Missoula. I was selected to participate in the Local Governments Citizens Academy. I enjoy spending time with my wife and son at the farmers' markets and on Montana’s rivers.
We need to take action to solve Missoula's housing crisis and we need to get creative to keep Missoula affordable by working on problems like the expense of child care and growing our economy by improving the job market by growing local business. Secondly, we need to keep our green spaces sacred, as our city grows we need to make sure that our parks and trails are accessible, safe and clean.
I have the experience, both in my volunteer work as well as my time at the university to work effectively in government, working with constituents and through the budgeting process.