Missoula voters appear to want some change in the makeup of the City Council, at least according to early returns from Tuesday’s municipal election.
Six of the 12 City Council seats are on the line, with incumbents seeking another term in three wards and a full slate of newcomers in the other three.
Early returns showed incumbents Heidi West and Gwen Jones with comfortable leads in wards 1 and 3. But Ward 2 Councilwoman Mirtha Becerra appeared to be in a tight race, leading conservative challenger Brent Sperry 780 votes to 617.
Amber Sherrill had a sizable lead over conservative Alan Ault in Ward 4, but in wards 5 and 6 conservatives recruited by Councilman Jesse Ramos were in the lead – John Contos in Ward 5 and Sandra Vasecka in Ward 6.
This year’s election was more contentious than in years past. It attracted the spending of a new partisan political action committee created to place conservative candidates on the City Council.
The non-partisan Montana Conservation Voters also backed a selection of left-leaning candidates based on their support for public lands and open space.
As of 8:01 p.m., with an unknown number of ballots yet to be counted, these are the preliminary numbers. Watch Missoula Current for continued updates throughout the evening.
Amber Shaffer 447
Heidi West 1,016
Mirtha Becerra 780
Brent Sperry 617
Gwen Jones 1,289
Drew Iverson 278
Alan Ault 778
Amber Sherrill 1,304
John Contos 1,285
Alex Fregerio 1,079
Nick Shontz 319
Sandra Vasecka 424