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First and foremost, we must think of the future our children will face if we do not elect strong climate leaders at every level of government. If you think property taxes are bad (due to a state tax system in need of reform), consider the devastating costs we will incur as a community, a state and a nation if the planet warms past 1.5 degrees C.

In Montana, we are warming faster than much of the world, and the more we warm, we can expect more extreme wildfire seasons with choking smoke, devastating loss of bird species, and serious impacts to agriculture, among other unpleasant results. We can’t fix it alone, but we must do our part.

As you complete your ballot for the Missoula City Council elections, please join me in supporting the six candidates who are committed to our community values, fiscal responsibility and doing our part to combat the growing climate crisis: Heidi West (Ward 1), Mirtha Becerra (Ward 2), Gwen Jones (Ward 3), Amber Sherrill (Ward 4), Alex Fregario (Ward 5) and Nick Shontz (Ward 6).

The opponents to these candidates include one who admits he “doesn’t agree with climate change,” two who seem to blame traffic patterns for the crisis, and three others who would perpetuate the fossil-fuel industry’s talking point that individuals are primarily to blame and the “free” market or so-called incentives can save us; this hasn’t worked — look at our failure to address climate change over the last 30 years. While individual choices are important, making it the central focus is a huge distraction from demanding the system-wide changes needed to overcome the climate crisis.

We need leaders who understand the facts of the unfolding crisis so we can navigate how best to adapt to changes we can’t avoid, and implement effective solutions that are in line with our community values as we work to transform our economy.

Now is the time for experience, for vision, for action, for solutions. This election, vote for City Council candidates who will serve our community with the facts in hand, and our values as their guide. Vote for a council dedicated to doing our part to ensure a livable future for our families.

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Winona Bateman is the founder of Families for a Livable Climate.

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