Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Voters in Missoula on Tuesday elected political newcomer Andrea Davis as the city's next mayor – the first newly elected mayor in nearly 20 years.

Davis, who heads a housing nonprofit and owns several rental homes in Missoula, took a solid lead after the first batch of returns were released late Tuesday night and held it for the remainder of the count.

Davis secured 14,736 votes to Mike Nugent's 9,674, earning her roughly 59% of the vote. Of the nearly 56,000 registered voters, less than 25,000 ballots were cast.

Nugent said he ran a good campaign, adding that it will take teamwork to solve the city's problems.

“What we kept running into, in general, was that people said they liked us both and couldn't tell the difference,” Nugent said. “Those votes just broke in the other direction. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't.”

Davis, who wasn't immediately available for comment, was endorsed by Mayor Jordan Hess, Missoula County commissioners, Planned Parenthood and sitting City Council member Daniel Carlino, among others.

During her campaign, Davis shied away from taking a solid position over taxes, city budgets and emergency services. Rather, she focused on social services and her experience as the director of a nonprofit that specializes in housing.

Nugent, in contrast, made his campaign about cutting taxes, improving emergency services and addressing transportation issues. The differences between the two candidates were subtle throughout the campaign, but visible below the surface on distinct issues.

Nugent was endorsed by the Missoula Firefighters union, the Missoula Central Labor Council and several sitting and former elected officials, along with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. He has two more years remaining in his term as a Ward 4 City Council member.

The next mayoral election is in 2025.

“I'm going to focus on doing what's right for Missoula and on council. I'll always put Missoula first and my ward first,” Nugent said. “Who knows what the future holds. Right now we have some serious issues and we need to work on them together. I've said that all along, I'm happy to work on them in whatever role I'm in.”