Dusting off the ballot box



In the sunny days of early July, the chill in the air which accompanies fall elections is hard to imagine.

But the deadline to register for the Missoula's primary election came and went a few weeks back, and now the race for the mayor's seat and six council positions is on.

The crux of this fall's elections will likely be growth and how to manage it. Nearly all of the 16 candidates running named Missoula's expanding population, and its subsequent effects, as being one of the main issues that their campaigns will revolve around. A twist this year is the fact that this election marks the first time party affiliations will not appear on the ballots--a change voters approved in 1996 with the new city charter.

Regardless, on September 9, voters will pick from the following list of contenders, and the top two vote-getters for each seat will go on to the general election in November.


Ed Childers
Age: 50
Occupation: Missoula city treasurer
Years in Missoula: 43

Ed Childers says he thinks the most important questions facing Missoula are growth and the city's budget.

"We need to run the city for the people who live in the city as best we can," he says. While Childers says he doesn't think there is a whole lot that can be done to slow population growth, he would like to see it funneled into desirable areas.

Childers says he would also like to see people who live on the outskirts of town pay for the services they use. "We have to have people who build outside the city pay the real cost to live outside the city."

Mike Kadas
Age: 40
Occupation: Mayor
Years in Missoula: 18

Mike Kadas says he believes, like Childers, that planning for growth and tight city budgets will be the most important issues confronting city government during the next several years.

The solutions, he says, will "require a lot of creativity and ingenuity.... I am interested in the job because I think Missoula is a really special place and there are some significant changes occurring that I want to be involved in."

Ward 1

David Harmon
Occupation: Wilderness outfitter
Years in Missoula: 11

"Twenty-one percent of children [living in Missoula] are raised below the poverty level," says David Harmon, and he'd like to do something about that. Harmon believes growth--and the high cost of housing that comes with it--is the number one cause of such woes. Harmon says he is interested in finding ways to manage growth and make Missoula an economically sustainable, healthy and affordable place to live.

"Everyone needs to do their part to build a better community. And I want to keep Missoula a healthy place to live for my children."

Roslyn Chaitoff
Age: 52
Occupation: Bookkeeper
Years in Missoula: 15

Roslyn Chaitoff says she would like to help "create a balance of healthy neighborhoods throughout our greater community for generations to come." Despite the fact that Chaitoff recently resigned from her post as treasurer of the Missoula County Democratic Central Committee, she says she is a "truly non-partisan candidate" because she has support from members of both major parties.

Carolyn Overman
Age: 46
Occupation: Business owner
Years in Missoula: 14

Carolyn Overman says she is for "common sense responsibility" in city government. She wants to strengthen basic city services, such as fire and police protection, and at the same time make Missoula an economically viable place to live by helping small businesses get on their feet and increasing affordable housing. Overman believes Missoula is the most diverse city in Montana and she wants to make sure it stays that way. There's nothing more Missoula than going to Worden's for lunch, she says, and seeing the diverse group of people who hang out there.

Ward 2

Linda Tracy
Age: 41
Occupation: Missoula city council member, consultant
Years in Missoula: 7

Linda Tracy says her major concerns for Missoula fall under the umbrella of growth. "I want to help us as a community develop in a smart way," she says. "We can no longer afford to develop in the way we have in the past." To that end, Tracy would like to help create a sustainable community in which people can get good jobs and live in neighborhoods near services.

Without an increase in property tax revenue in the near future, Tracy is also concerned about the city budget. "As we continue to grow, we continue to demand more services of government. We need to learn to do more with less."

Jamie Carpenter
Age: 31
Occupation: Business owner
Years in Missoula: 6

Jamie Carpenter is interested in issues that affect families. She says she is running for city council to help ensure that Missoula remains a place where children can grow up. She would like to see parents and local schools be more motivated and committed to children.

Carpenter's other concerns include affordable housing, transportation and air quality. "Some of the people I've spoken with in my community feel that people in government are not listening," she says. Simply put, she hopes to change this perception.

Ward 3

Lou Ann Crowley
Age: 50
Occupation: Missoula city council member, bicycle club coordinator
Years in Missoula: 19

Lou Ann Crowley says she has a simple reason why she's running for council: "I enjoy it. It's not something I ever thought I'd be doing." She says she also likes working with city staffers who care about making Missoula a better place.

The issues Crowley cites as her major concerns include the community's relationship to the land and with each other. She wonders, for instance, if everyone who needs food and shelter in Missoula is being taken care of.

Also, Crowly says, she would like to preserve the integrity and flavor of local neighborhoods, and is concerned about transportation. "We're suffering in many ways from our need to travel by car."

Bob Luceno
Age: 46
Occupation: Marketing and sales
Years in Missoula:

Bob Luceno spent two years on the city council from 1989 to 1990. He says he regards this time as training. Now, he would like to put that time to better use by serving again on the council. Luceno says he is running because he feels a deep commitment to the people of Missoula. He believes the main issue of the election will be growth, and specifically, what the city will look like in 10 or 20 years. "I would like to see a collective voice on the city council that represents all of Missoula. I believe my voice would contribute to that end."

Paula Hofmann
Age: 50
Occupation: Self-employed
Years in Missoula: 8

"I want to serve the people of Missoula and this is the most exciting way I can think of," Paula Hofmann says of her decision to run for council. The main issue of her campaign, she says, will be "how we are going to grow." Hofmann says she is for citizen planning and neighborhood councils, and is in favor of finding open space on the valley floor. She's also interested in continuing to minimize air pollution and in encouraging alternative modes of transportation.

Ward 5

Jack Reidy
Age: 74
Occupation: Missoula city council member, retired
Years in Missoula: 70

Jack Reidy is a self-described "financial conservative," or a "conservative Democrat"--whichever you prefer. He says he is running for re-election because he believes he represents a constituency that others don't: seniors citizens and veterans. He also thinks he helps give some balance to the council.

"The city council is in my opinion too liberal. We need a balance," he says. "I don't want to go too far to the right or too far to the left. I think I represent balance."

Like most of the other candidates running in the primary, Reidy believes growth is the central issue. "I want to see good growth and protection of the water."

Ward 6

Craig Sweet
Age: 45
Occupation: Missoula city council president, business owner
Years in Missoula: 15

Craig Sweet says he is running for re-election because the council is in the middle of some important issues he would like to see resolved: growth management, affordable housing and getting the Missoula Measures project up and running. Sweet would like to see any new development be built closer to city services to cut down on the expense of providing those services. He's also an advocate of more neighborhood parks. "I think there is a big need to spend some of the open space bond money on parks on the valley floor."

Robert Fitzgerald-Kelly
Age: 60
Occupation: Unknown
Years in Missoula: Unknown

Robert Fitzgerald-Kelly says he is running because he thinks he can do some good for the city. Specifically, he believes that homelessness and poverty are the main issues facing the city. He would also like to cut down on the amount of city expenditures.

Tracey Turek
Age: 33
Occupation: Water Resource Specialist
Years in Missoula: 16

"Friends and family thought I could make some good decisions about how Missoula is going to proceed into the next century," says Tracey Turek, explaining why she decided to run for council.

Turek says she wants to make sure that Missoula can continue to provide basic services as it grows and still have a clean environment. "We have to make sure we have clean air and clean water or no one will want to live here."

Steve Larsen
Age: 38
Occupation: Office equipment repair technician
Years in Missoula: 4

Steve Larsen says he would like to see the city encourage the creation of more affordable housing and higher paying jobs, and manage growth in a manner that is business-friendly. "I'm for fewer regulations and more common sense regulations," he says.

Larsen says the city should streamline its regulations, making it easier to develop. With basic, easy-to-follow rules, he says, a builder could be told, "if you follow these rules, then you'll be allowed to develop," and not have to worry about the council changing its mind later.

Myrt Charney

Charney is running for the Ward 3 seat, but was out of town at press time and could not be reached. The Independent will profile him at a later date.

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