With less than three out of 10 Missoula voters turning out for this year’s citywide election, Missoula will send some new faces, as well as some familiar ones, to City Council chambers this January.
With a 28 percent voter turnout in Missoula County, Missoulians reelected Mayor Mike Kadas to another term. Kadas solidly defeated his challenger, political newcomer Jeff Jordan, by a margin of 54 percent to 35 percent. The outcome was not a surprise to most political observers, though the race was made slightly more interesting by the write-in candidacy of Kandi Matthew-Jenkins, who garnered 548 votes.
In Ward One, John Engen handily defeated former council veteran Cass Chinske by a margin of 65 percent to 31 percent. Engen will occupy the seat of Councilmember Dave Harmon, who opted not to seek reelection this year.
In Ward Two, the closest and most bitterly fought race of the season, Anne Marie Kazmierczak narrowly defeated challenger Allison Handler by an unofficial 10-vote margin. According to Missoula Elections Supervisor Kim Cox, if a race is won by less than 0.25 percent of the vote, the losing candidate can request a recount at no cost to himself or herself.
In uncontested races in Ward Three and Ward Five, incumbents Lou Ann Crowley and Jack Reidy, respectively, were reelected to another term.
In Ward Four, incumbent Myrt Charney successfully fended off a challenge by another political newcomer, Mike Kurz, defeating him by a 52 percent to 45 percent margin. And, in the only upset of the city races, Ward Six incumbent Tracey Turek was defeated by Clayton Floyd, Jr., an interesting result considering that the race received virtually no press coverage of any kind.
Election results were not official as of press time, but were expected to be certified by the Missoula County Board of Elections as of Friday afternoon following a routine canvas, which compares the total number of votes counted by the optical scanning machines and absentee ballots with the number of voters listed in the polling books.
According to the Missoula County Board of Elections, nearly 700 votes were cast by absentee voters.
Although Missoula voter turnout was considerably lower than the nearly 40 percent turnout two years ago, elections officials say some of that is due to the fact that nearly 1,000 registered voters who did not vote in the 2000 general election have not yet been removed from the books.
In Ravalli County, the City of Hamilton will have a new mayor come January. In a surprising upset, Joe Petrusaitis defeated incumbent Laurel Frankenfield by a 15-vote margin. Those results were also unofficial as of press time.