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Opinion: Missoula Central Labor Council endorses Mayor John Engen for re-election

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Missoula Central Labor Council is proud to endorse Mayor John Engen for re-election. We are once again united in our support, he is the clear choice this election and we invite you to join us in supporting him.

We represent the organized labor community in Missoula. We are a diverse set of labor unions that works together to advance the pay, benefits, and social status of working people in our community. We work to ensure the voices of working people are heard on key community issues including local elections.

Mayor Engen has a strong relationship with organized labor and with all working people of Missoula. Missoula is his hometown and he understands the many changes our community has gone through as we have grown and changed. He has never forgotten the working people of Missoula. He has successfully worked with labor and helped to increase the wages and benefits of organized city workers — over half of the total city employees.

This support goes beyond city employees. He has worked with us on local projects to make sure labor’s views are integrated into building, construction, and other key labor opportunities.

Through his leadership Missoula has been able to diversify its economy as our community has evolved over the last 20 years.

Organized labor is not an afterthought for Mayor Engen. When the city of Missoula restored our water system to public ownership, he made sure that the new Missoula Water Company welcomed the former Mountain Water Company employees into city employment with good wages and benefits. This is just one example of Mayor Engen’s support and engagement. He has an open-door policy with labor and when other labor issues confront our city, he is an engaged and willing partner.

Mayor Engen actively pursued and won the support of a diversity of community organizations who endorse candidates, that now includes the strong support of the Central Labor Council. His opponent, Jacob Elder, has shown no interest in the labor community, has not met with any labor groups and does not even talk about labor issues.

There is a clear contrast between Mayor Engen and his opponent.

Missoula is a special place to live, work and raise a family, but it is not without challenges. The rapid change precipitated by the pandemic, along with outside economic forces, present acute challenges for our community and working families. We believe John Engen brings the experience and leadership to see us through these challenging times.

We know that John Engen will work hard to make sure all voices are heard when we face these challenges. We know and trust John to engage the community, even when there is a need to have hard conversations that can sometimes divide our community if all voices are not welcome to the conversation.

Now more than ever it is important to have strong local leadership that supports working people of all types.

We ask that you join with us and vote for John Engen this election. This is an all-mail ballot election, and your ballot should have arrived last week. We encourage you to return your ballot as soon as possible. Learn more about John at For more information on your ballot and the election go to

Derek Hitt is president of the Missoula Central Labor Council. 

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