The Missoula Current sent a candidate questionnaire to all City Council candidates ahead of the General Election in November. Below is the response from Ward 2 council candidate Timmothy Garrison.

1. While this is a non-partisan race, how do you align politically? 

Irrelevant! I align to my constituents, not a political platform that doesn’t fit the function of the city level needs. “Partisan Political Organizations" endorsing non-partisan candidates is baffling.

City council candidates accepting endorsements from “Partisan Political Organizations" is equally baffling. It goes against everything we are trying to accomplish by having a non-partisan city council. It invites opportunity for “Partisan Political Organizations“ to influence the outcome of a race.

2. What do you see as the top issues facing the city at this point in time?

Affordable Housing, property taxes, federal financial support and federal action for houseless population, medical privacy for women, traffic, undereducated and inexperienced city council candidates (not absolute, there are many competent members in the council).

3. What would you bring to the table to resolve your top issue?

Education, experience, non-partisan support for our constituents.

4. Do you support funding police and fire, and how would you help them gain the resources they need to do their job?

Yes! I support our frontline heroes. This is an area that can benefit from a tourism tax. They respond to all emergencies regardless of residency, tourists utilize these services for their safety and it is fitting to tap that tax source.

5. In what way do you support local businesses, both big and small?

I have been saying it for the past year: “Businesses need a seat at the neighborhood committee table.” If the businesses and the city council members are not attending their own neighborhood committee meetings, then the neighborhood committees are irrelevant. Beautifying a traffic circle or painting a mural once per year is a far cry from the purpose of a neighborhood committee. We need neighborhood committee support in our local businesses.

6. The city is facing a budget crisis. How would you address it? 

As stated previously, this is an area that can benefit from a tourism tax. Tourists utilize our emergency services, streets, parks, and water recreation.  It is fitting to tap that tax source to balance our budget while reducing property tax burdens.

7. What areas would you cut to help the city balance its budget next fiscal year?

Nothing. There is no frivolous spending to my knowledge. The budget is the needs of the city in balance with the taxes brought in. We need to recover tax funds from no traditional sources rather than from property owners who pass that to the renters. Property tax increase directly contradicts affordable housing goals.

8. How would you help address homelessness, and how does personal accountability come into play?

Homeless is a national issue that needs a federal government solution. It is not an issue specific to the Missoula area. It calls for county, state, and Federal financing, planning, and action. We have 600+ houseless individuals in Missoula, but they are not all the same copy and paste scenarios. Missoula city has a part to play, but it does not have the funding or resources to lead the houseless initiative in Western Montana.

9. How can the City of Missoula play a stronger role in supporting businesses and growing jobs?

We have to make it financially sound for local businesses to operate, easy for new businesses to come into the area, and affordable for new talent to be recruited into the area and find housing.

10. How would you support housing development in Missoula without turning to subsidies like the Affordable Housing Trust Fund?

City land needs to be made available for development, to offset cost of developers purchasing private land. More available land will drive down land cost. Expansion west through annexation will allow more taxable property to be developed and added to the city tax base.

If we truly wish to make affordable housing available, then we have to streamline the process for developers to get approved. Building material costs change constantly and we can’t have developers waiting for approval of antiquated code waivers.  Missoulians are looking for affordable housing, not landscaped space near parking lots and streets or 1.5 parking spots per household on the property.