November's Missoula municipal elections are still a long way off, as is the June 30 deadline for candidate filing. But so far the competition for city council looks thin. Ward 2's Pam Walzer is the only incumbent facing opposition.
Walzer's competitor isn't quite what you'd expect from someone vying for Missoula city government. Adam Hertz, 25, has the kind of clean-cut, baby-faced look that gets even regulars carded in bars. He's a Polson native, a metal and punk rock fan, and a former bass player with the now-defunct Missoula group Sharktopus. In summer 2007, he toured the northwest with his bandmates, playing a set at the Van's Warped Tour and occasionally eating out of dumpsters. Now he sells home loans with American Mortgage in Missoula.
"I have a pretty open schedule," says Hertz, a self-professed libertarian with a fiscally conservative lean. "A lot of free time."
This isn't Hertz's first shot at a council seat. When Roy Houseman stepped down last December to work as a legislative assistant with the United Steelworkers, Hertz was one of 17 applicants who filed for the open seat. Cynthia Wolken ended up at the top of that heap, a development Hertz says didn't really surprise him. "I knew there wasn't a chance I was going to get it. There was no way. I just wanted to be part of the process and get my name out there."
Walzer sees some logic to the disparity between the rush for Houseman's seat and this early election-season lull. When applying to fill a vacancy, "there's no filing fee, there's not yard signs. It's a lot easier to throw your hat in the ring that way." And with a progressive like Walzer as incumbent—she says she hopes to focus on quality sidewalks, parks, and schools as economic drivers in another term—other progressives may not want to rock the boat by running against her.
"The filing is in the first part of May and the general election will not be until November," Walzer says. "That's a very long interview process."