The Ward 2 primary for Missoula City Council takes place Tuesday, Sept. 9, with mail-in ballots being sent out Monday. The Missoulian asked each candidate to respond to 10 questions, and their answers are running through Sunday in the order in which they were received.
The candidates include Anita Green, Aylinn Inmon, Jack Rowan and Harlan Wells. Ward 2 includes the Westside neighborhood, North Reserve Street, areas around Mullan Road and Expressway, and Grant Creek.
The following are Green's responses.
Do you support the city’s use of urban renewal districts to help fund the redevelopment of blighted properties? Would you vote to extend the life of Urban Renewal District 3?
Urban renewal districts are projects put in place to redevelop and improve certain areas. I fully support the city’s use of urban renewal districts to help blighted properties and I would vote to extend the life of Urban Renewal District 3.
Do you support the city’s current focus on growing inward?
I am completely supportive of the “focus inward” strategy in Missoula’s growth policy because this strategy is focused on conserving space by utilizing Missoula’s existing infrastructure, which will thus prevent the need to expand into undeveloped and agricultural land. Following through with Missoula’s focus inward strategy will help focus housing efforts on places that already exist. By fortifying Missoula’s already existing buildings, we can build more housing complexes on top of buildings already in place.
City taxes increased 5.7 percent this year, which followed a 3.8 percent tax increase last year. Some residents feel taxes are too high. As you’d be involved in the budgeting process, how would you balance the need to maintain and grow services with the cost of paying for them?
No one likes seeing an increase in taxes, and because of that I believe the city should do its best to seek grants and donations so that City Council will not need to increase taxes in Missoula. I believe taxes should only be raised as a last resort.
Missoula Municipal Court is asking for a second judge and more room, and the police department needs an evidence storage facility. What would you do to resolve the needs, knowing voters have resisted the cost of paying for them? Would you support funding a law and justice center?
The Missoula Municipal Court and the police department are essential services the city needs to thrive. With this in mind, I am supportive of providing funding for these services. I would also support funding a law and justice center. Seeking grants and/or donations would be my first choice to go about paying for these projects.
What do you see as the top three issues facing Ward 2? And what would you do to see that they’re addressed?
Support Missoula’s decision to own its own water.
I will continue to maintain my firm stance, which is that Missoula should continue to own its own water because from a philosophical point of view I do not believe water should be privatized. Furthermore, if Missoula does not own its own water system the rates will continue to increase drastically.
Push for the institution of inclusionary zoning.
This issue is particularly pertinent to Ward 2 because many people who live in this ward are low-income and live in affordable housing. People of a low-income status are underrepresented and recent housing developments have focused primarily on those with a higher-income status.
Institute a wet shelter and/or wet housing.
As far as addressing this issue is concerned, I think educating the public is the key. Wet housing has been shown to significantly reduce the homeless community’s drug and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, instituting wet housing will save the city a significant amount of money. One homeless person on the streets for one year costs the city $25,000. This is due to the fact many homeless people are either sent to hospitals or to jail, and these are costs taxpayers end up having to pay for.
What do you see as the role of a City Council member? Describe your ability to lead when necessary and compromise when its appropriate?
I believe City Council members should do their best to do as much research as possible on the issues at hand. It is also imperative to promote as much transparency as possible by listening to the ideas and thoughts of others to make the best decision.
I have no problem taking the initiative to inform and lead when necessary. I believe it is important to share my thoughts, but at the same time it is just as important to listen to what others have to say. Some may feel their ideas are better than mine in a certain area and that’s perfectly acceptable as long as we all respect one another’s perspective.
What responsibility does a City Council member have in terms of establishing and maintaining an effective working relationship with the media?
As I’ve already mentioned, I believe it is important to promote as much transparency as possible. Answering questions and providing well-thought-out opinions are important for that. The media is doing its part in trying to educate the public, and as a public servant I believe it is my duty to help with that process.
Some members of City Council say the public doesn’t participate in the governing process, and some members of the public say the City Council doesn’t listen to their voice. What would you do to foster public participation and ensure all voices in the community are heard?
Throughout my campaign, I have put a large emphasis on knocking on doors and listening to the needs of voters. I have also given my email address to many people in case they have any further questions or concerns. I am a firm believer in transparency and I encourage anyone who has something they would like to say to attend City Council meetings and make a public comment. Furthermore, I have reached out and met with all of the current City Council members, all of whom have been very receptive and welcoming of me. I would encourage the public to do the same.
How would you balance the needs of Ward 2 with the needs of the larger city?
The needs facing Ward 2 are needs facing the rest of the city.
Why do you want to run for City Council? What issues do you bring to the table?
I want to be a member of the Missoula City Council because I want to help to continue to guide Missoula down a progressive path. I want to give people who are often times disenfranchised – namely those who have a low-income background – more of a voice. I also want to provide Missoula’s City Council with more diversity. I am one of the youngest people to run for City Council. I am also the only openly transgender person to ever run for City Council in the state of Montana and run for public office in Missoula. While I believe all of the current City Council members are intelligent and have offered a lot for Missoula, this city prides itself on being diverse. I want to see Missoula’s City Council diversified so that more members of the community are being equally represented. Quite simply, I want to help make Missoula a better place.