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Opinion: We need to keep Missoula green and affordable

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Missoulians deserve a local government that will do everything it takes to ensure our community is equitable, affordable, and green. My name is Daniel Carlino, and I am running for city council to ensure every Missoulian has access to affordable, secure housing, to address our rapidly growing climate crisis, and to give our citizens more voice in city council decisions.

The lack of government action on the affordable housing crisis has slowly eroded working-class Missoulians’ access to affordable, adequate, and secure housing. In the past decade the median housing price in Missoula has increased 57%, leaving the median home price at over $320,000. Currently the vacancy rate in Missoula is about 0.3%, leaving Missoulians struggling with high rental costs and even fewer choices. All Missoulians who rent are intimately aware of our housing crisis, and I am running as the only working-class renting candidate to give a voice to these renters and to those in our community struggling to find affordable, secure housing. If we allow this trend of rapidly increasing rent and housing prices to continue, Missoula will no longer be the beautiful and diverse city that we all know and love.

Not only are Missoulians being priced out of our community by the rising cost of housing, we also face a crossroads for protecting the natural beauty of Montana. Northwestern Energy has building plans for four new gas plants in our beautiful state. Last year, when I ran for the Montana Public Service Commission (the entity which regulates Northwestern Energy) my campaign was the lone political voice against Northwestern’s plans to drill and frack in Montana. Our community demands better from our politicians — no drilling and fracking in our state.

We have the technology, resources, and policy options to tackle the affordable housing and climate crises, but we need people with the political will to do so — both politicians and caring citizens (of which this city is full). In fact, my work with a variety of social justice and environmental groups in Missoula has taught me that we need a community-led government. On the city council, I will increase our public involvement in local government decisions by creating new citizen oversight committees and granting these bodies more decision-making power. We must also create a public commenting system that creates dialogue between our council members and constituents, where Missoulians may leave their contact information when public commenting so that their city council representative can reach out to them. I will host weekly office hours where anyone can stop in to discuss city concerns, and I will continue community dialogue through social media, email updates, and more letters to the news to give insight on city council processes.

As your candidate for city council, I have the political will to keep Missoula green and affordable for all of us, and I pledge to use all of my resources and experience to do so. Together, let’s use our voices and our votes to ensure the Missoula way of life is preserved.

Daniel Carlino is a Missoula City Council candidate for Ward 3.

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