This story was updated at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning after two additional candidates beat the filing deadline the night before.
The list of candidates looking to represent the City of Missoula took form Monday after the filing period closed, setting the ballot for 2021 election.
The only remaining question is whether the city will hold a primary before November.
By Tuesday morning, the final tally included four candidates for mayor, six candidates looking to fill three seats in municipal court, and 15 candidates vying for six seats on City Council. Several candidates filed at the last minute.
The race for mayor will include newcomers Jacob Elder, a Liberian refugee and former U.S. Marine who launched his campaign months ago, and Greg Strandberg, a perennial candidate who paid the $950 filing fee on Monday. Shawn Knopp also filed to run as mayor at the last hour.
Incumbent John Engen will vie to defend his seat against his rivals.
“I take my responsibility as the City of Missoula’s chief executive officer seriously,” Engen said in a statement issued Monday. “I know the burdens, the challenges, the opportunities and the surprises that come with being a full-time public servant, and it is not easy. But I believe I will continue to be the best candidate for the job.”
The Missoula Current will ask all candidates running for office to detail their platform in the months ahead.
While Engen looks to keep his job as mayor, only two incumbents have filed to retain their seat on City Council, including Ward 5 council member Stacie Anderson and Ward 2 council member Jordan Hess.
They’ll be challenged by Rebecca Dawson, who is running against Hess in Ward 2, and Robert Campbell, who is running against Anderson in Ward 5.
Several other City Council incumbents said they don’t plan to run for another term. They include Ward 6 council member Julie Merritt, Ward 4 council member Jesse Ramos and Ward 3 council member Heather Harp.
Ward 1 council member Bryan von Lossberg – the City Council’s current president – also isn’t seeking what would have been his third term.
“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.”
Four candidates have filed to fill von Lossberg’s seat representing Ward 1, including Jennifer Savage, Kevin Hunt, Sheena Winterer and Jane VanFossen, who also beat the filing deadline on Monday.
With four candidates running for the single seat, the city will decide this week whether to hold a primary. The cost of holding a primary for a single ward is estimated at $19,000.
In other races without an incumbent, two candidates have filed to replace Harp in Ward 3, including Dori Gilels and Daniel Carlino. In Ward 6, newcomers Kristen Jordan, Tom Taylor and Madelein Owen look to replace Merritt and in Ward 4, Mike Nugent and Alan Ault are looking to replace Ramos.
With two additional judgeships at stake, municipal court races will also take a higher profile this election. The new positions include District 2, which includes a race between Thorin Geist and Eli Parker. In Department 3, Ethan Lerman and Jacob Coolidge have filed to run.
Two other candidates also paid the $1,000 filing fee in their quest to replace retiring Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Jenks. Jennifer Streano filed to run back in April and Sam Warren filed in May.
Sheena Comer Winterer