The number of candidates running for a municipal seat in Missoula this election continues to grow, and with more than a month before the filing period closes, the need for a primary will soon be determined.
As of Friday, two candidates had filed to run for mayor, three for municipal court, and 13 for City Council. Others are expected to join the race before the window closes on June 21.
Nathan Coyan, the deputy administrator with the Missoula County elections office, said interest among prospective candidates has been average this cycle.
“We’re still waiting to determine if we’re going to need to run a primary in any of these races,” Coyan said. “When people file, they generally file right when the filing period opens. Some will wait to the very end, but it’s pretty standard where we’re at right now.”
Only three incumbents have filed to retain their seat, including Missoula Mayor John Engen, Ward 5 council member Stacie Anderson, and Ward 2 council member Jordan Hess.
Several City Council incumbents said they don’t plan to run for another term. They include Ward 6 council member Julie Merritt, Ward 3 council member Heather Harp, and Ward 1 council member Bryan von Lossberg – the City Council’s current president.
“I have been resolved about that decision for quite some time,” von Lossberg said. “It’s been an honor to represent Ward 1 and serve as council president. I’m deeply grateful to the community and my colleagues for those opportunities.”
Ward 4 council member Jesse Ramos also said he isn’t running for a second term.
“Being in the City Council has been the honor of a lifetime, however I am not seeking a second term,” Ramos said. “It constantly felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I gave it my all but sometimes your all just isn’t enough.”
Across the six city wards, 13 people have filed to run. The final number come the end of June will determined whether a primary will be needed to whittle the field down to two candidates in each race.
The city held a primary in the last municipal race in 2019.
“It depends on how many people file in each ward,” said Coyan. “There’s a complicated matrix we use. It’s also up to the city if they want to run a primary or not, and a couple of factors weigh into their decision. One of them is financial, and we’re still waiting for that determination.”