In advance of the 2019 primary and general elections for six Missoula City Council seats, Missoula Current asked each of the 15 candidates a series of questions based on issues facing city leaders in the years ahead. Their answers are reprinted verbatim.
Michelle Cares, the incumbent Ward 6 council member, is not running for reelection. Ward 6 includes these Missoula neighborhoods: Franklin to the Fort, Two Rivers and River Road.
The two Ward 6 candidates, both new to city government, are Nick Shontz and Sandra Vasecka. They will meet in November’s general election.
Here are Vasecka’s answers to Missoula Current’s election questionnaire.
Sandra Vasecka, Ward 6
Q: Do you support the use of tax increment financing as a tool for economic development, job growth and expanding the city’s tax base?
A. No, I do not support the use of TIF. This “tool” is a way to divert property tax dollars from entering the general fund to be used to purchase more debt to lure (a.k.a. bribe) large corporations into building in our city, while leaving the taxpayers to finance the debt.
Q: Do you support the city’s new housing policy, and what would you do to implement the recommendations?
A. There are parts that I support and parts that I do not support. I do not support additional introducing more mills levied, as this would only increase the tax burden on current and future homeowners, and will likely add to the affordable housing problem. I do support the reduction of regulations, such as reducing the amount of parking requirements and eliminating or at least reducing the minimum square lot footage requirement in home ownership projects. I also support reducing the setback requirement.
Q: What would you do to expand the city’s tax base to pay for essential services and the increasing cost of providing those services?
A. Reducing property tax exemptions would greatly expand our tax base. There are plenty of businesses and rentals that are paying $0 in property taxes in our city. This is done as an incentive for non-profits and low-income housing. By having them pay a reduced amount of property taxes, instead of paying nothing, this will increase our tax base, thus allowing the city more funds to spend on the core and essential services.
Q: Do you believe a series of tweets sent out by President Donald Trump targeting four minority members of Congress this month were racist? Why or why not?
A. I do not see what this question has to do with our city or this local election. That being said, I am going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not using this question to divide our city, and instead are genuinely concerned about racism in our home. Racism (along with any form of discrimination) is despicable. Our country was founded on immigrants, and I am proud to call the recent naturalized citizens in Missoula my fellow countrymen and women.
Q: What would you do to ensure the city continues to meet the wide range of citizen demands while keeping an eye on taxes?
A. Continue maintaining what we currently have, while reducing the amount of regulations so that private businesses can provide the services that the city should not be involved in, and let the city put our dollars toward the core operations of running a city.
Q: What more can the city do to accommodate non-motorized transportation to achieve the goals in the Long Range Transportation Plan?
A: The transportation plan is expensive as it sits. Expecting a little less than $23K in revenue for 2019 and spending $135M on the non motorized alone seems wildly inappropriate. We need to focus on getting our city out of debt so that we can fund the vast amount of recommended projects in the future. We must believe in the citizens to use their own non-motorized modes as often as they can, to help build a sustainable future. I believe it is up to each and every one of us to take individual responsibly in any way they can.
Q: What would be your primary goal as a member of the City Council? How would you fund it?
A: My primary goal is to be a safeguard to our tax dollars. I will ensure the primary functions of a city are properly funded, make sure funds aren’t being abused, and be a voice for my ward. It is not to come up with pet projects and think of ways to spend taxpayer’s dollars. This question is absurd and exudes expectations that if you make it into office you have a slush fund to play with.