I’ve lived in Missoula since October 1981, when downtown was a ghost town due to the mall opening a year or two earlier, and saw that lumber mills were beginning to close down due to the lack of wood supply. It was a tough time to be relocating to Missoula.
Despite some health challenges, I still put 55-plus hours a week into my agency. I worked my way through college. I don’t call in sick. My wife and I started our business here 34 years ago, and there is no retirement in sight for me. I make a good salary, and we own our home and office building − both in the city limits.
But I’m tired. I’m 63, and I’m very tired. I’m tired of being told that bicyclists have more rights than me on Missoula’s streets. Because of how rude most of them have become, I’m the one who gets flipped off when they are not following the traffic laws. I’m tired of seeing the transients who come to town year-round for free handouts − free food, free health care, free shelter. Being a good Missoula citizen means I’m supposed to spread the wealth to people who don’t have my work ethic and passion.
I’m tired of being told that my property taxes will go up every year, despite my living in Grant Creek (within the city limits) where I get little to no city services. I’m tired of my staff struggling to find suitable affordable housing. Good affordable housing is rare in this community and it’s either overpriced or junk. I’m tired of my clients telling me they are coming to Missoula to see our world-class facility, and then find out it costs a thousand bucks or more to fly here on short notice. So they ask when I will be visiting them next, because they are not coming to Missoula.
I’m tired of people who bought homes along the railroad tracks here now complaining about what is being transported via train past their houses. Coal shipments have been coming through Missoula for decades and now you want to complain.
I’m tired of the University of Montana whining about the compensation levels they offer, which, by the way, are the highest in the region. I’m tired of an ex-president of the university making $120,000 a year to teach two classes in chemistry.
I’m tired of hearing our mayor, who has already served three terms (12 years), talk about affordable housing, but everything he does ensures that affordable housing can’t occur. Open space bonds restrict land supply for housing, and insane city impact fees on developers and builders increase the price of housing unnecessarily, higher than anywhere else in Montana. You simply can’t have low-income housing in Missoula with these out-of-line fees. I’m tired of hearing that our mayor will be “mayor for life.” I don’t think any politician anywhere ought to serve more than two terms.
And the last thing I’m tired of is that now I will have to endure dozens of letters to the editor and phone calls at my residence telling me how wrong I am and that I’m what’s wrong with Missoula. Seems like you are not entitled to an independent thought here if it goes across the grain of the bumper sticker crowd in Missoula for “keep Missoula weird.”
The election this fall for the leadership of Missoula is your chance to be heard and make a difference, and that’s why I’m supporting Lisa Triepke for mayor. You should too. Being well-liked is no case for being a strong leader.