Missoula councilman DiBari won’t seek reelection; backs Sherrill for Ward 4 seat

Ward 4 City Council member John DiBari, left, listens to public comment at a recent public meeting. DiBari doesn’t plan to seek relection and is backing Amber Sherrill’s run for his seat. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

With the filing deadline rapidly approaching and his workload increasing, Ward 4 City Council member John DiBari on Tuesday said he won’t seek another term on the city’s governing body.

In doing so, he announced his intention to back Amber Sherrill’s run for his seat, saying the interim director of the Five Valleys Land Trust is suited for the job.

“I had fully intended to run again as the winter progressed, but I have taken on some non-council work responsibilities, and I had the opportunity to acquire another business,” DiBari said. “As the late winter started wearing on, I realized all the things together added up to more than I had time to do.”

DiBari won election to the council in 2015 and has made housing and land use among his top priorities. Before joining the council, he served on the Missoula Consolidated Planning Board and the steering committee that helped write the city’s new growth policy.

He also owned a small business and was recently afforded the opportunity to take his entrepreneurial skills further. He didn’t disclose his plans on Tuesday, but said he’s enjoyed his work for the city and the issues it works to address.

“I’m interested in the land use component, and I really feel like our development services staff is excellent, and the work we’ve done on the growth policy is excellent,” DiBari said. “I’ve enjoyed working with those folks and being thoughtful about how we do land use in the community.”

Like other citizens who have become members of the City Council, DiBari also developed new respect for the city’s employees and the way the city tackles complex challenges.

“I’ve feel it’s been a really good team of people to work with,” he said. “I haven’t met a single person that works for the city that isn’t totally committed to the work they do and providing good help to folks.”

While on the council, DiBari served as chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee, and has worked closely with Development Services on a number of issues. He helped spearhead the city’s design excellence standards and left his mark on a number of other efforts.

“When you have an opportunity to do this important and meaningful work, that’s the reward,” he said. “Not everyone likes what you do, but on balance, we and I strive hard to understand the complexity of certain situations and to make the best decisions I could make that I felt benefited the most people.”

The filing deadline to run in municipal elections closes on June 17, and while DiBari considered another run, he opted against it out of courtesy to his constituents.

“I don’t know how much work is going to be required from this new endeavor I’m involved in,” he said. “Until I know what it’s going to take, I shouldn’t keep biting off more than I can chew. I give 100 percent to everything I’m involved in, and that gets harder and harder to do as you add new things.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, only two people had filed to seek a seat on the City Council, including Amber Sherrill. DiBari spoke with Sherrill early Tuesday and said he plans to support her run for his seat representing Ward 4.

Sherrill served as the interim director of the Five Valleys Land Trust after Grant Kier left the organization in 2017. In her role, she helped win passage of the new Open Space bond.

“I had been talking with her, and I’m going to support her run for council,” DiBari said. “She brings a strong conservation ethic to the position. It’s something I feel I brought as well, and I know she has a strong interest in how the city grows, its development and housing.”