By Martin Kidston
Two residents of Ward 2 called upon their representative Harlan Wells to resign from the City Council on Monday night, saying his sporadic attendance over the past eight months translated into a failure to represent his constituents.
Anita Green, who ran to represent Ward 2 last November before going on to serve as a delegate on behalf of the Montana Democratic Party to the national convention, said Wells was failing to represent his constituents with his low attendance.
“As a constituent, I feel as though I’m not being represented well, and I also know that many people in Ward 2 feel the same way,” Green said. “Wells not consistently showing up for his job is a waste of taxpayers’ money and is completely immoral.”
Green cited a May 26 article in the Missoula Current citing Well’s attendance record, which at the time stood at 65 percent. When asked about his attendance, Wells said he worked a 9-5 job, which made it difficult at times to show up to committee meetings and Monday night’s council meetings.
At the same time, however, Wells also accused the City Council of doing Mayor John Engen’s bidding when it came to expenditures. Wells accused his peers on the council of attempting to make him look bad in an effort to divert attention away from their own shortcomings.
Green called Well’s comments to the press hypocritical.
“It’s odd considering he’s doing something fiscally questionable, which again is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Green said. “He’s being paid for a job he decides to not show up for.”
Engen told Green to wrap up her comments.
“We’re bordering on what I consider a personal attack here, so I’d ask you to wrap it up,” Engen said.
Green concluded by asking Wells to attend city meetings on a regular basis or resign from the council.
Wells, who announced his intention to consider running for mayor in March, didn’t respond to Green’s accusations during Monday night’s meeting, nor did he respond to two other residents of Ward 2 who raised similar concerns.
After the meeting, however, he passed off Green’s attack as an attempt to distract away from rising taxes.
“For her to come out and say that, they’re just distractions from what the real issues are in the city,” Wells said. “She was there to distract people from the real issue, which was the City Council getting ready to raise property taxes even further.”
One man attended Monday’s meeting to see if Wells was in attendance while a woman questioned Wells’ ability to represent his ward.
“I’ve watched the meetings and I see the attendance,” the woman said. “Less than 65 percent doesn’t seem to be a passing grade for the representation I want on Ward 2. I want to see some improvement in that area.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org