While there was no group photo this year, six members of the Missoula City Council arrived in person on Monday to take the oath of office before embarking on the issues ahead in 2022.
The council members, including two incumbents and four newcomers, joined Mayor John Engen and three newly elected Missoula Municipal Court judges at the swearing in ceremony at City Hall.
“This is the sixth oath of office I have taken, and each time I have approached the oath with humility,” Engen said. “Our responsibility here is enormous. Democracy is messy and challenging, and hurtful and remarkable and wonderful, and it happens most visibly and most accountably at the local level.”
Engen easily won reelection in November with roughly 62% of the vote and began his fifth term as mayor on Monday. Missoula District Court Judge Leslie Halligan delivered the oath and praised Engen for his service over the prior years.
“You have focused on housing our citizens and ensuring the services of the city work, which we often take for granted,” Halligan said. “You have made Missoula an even better place for all of us to live.”
As the city’s longest-serving mayor, Engen has seen countless City Council members come and go. This year, four council members opted not to run, leaving only two incumbents on the ballot in Jordan Hess and Stacie Anderson.
Both took the oath on Monday, which began Anderson’s second term representing Ward 5 and Hess’s third term representing Ward 2. Hess, who has chaired the Land Use and Planning Committee in recent years, considered the year ahead.
“We’ve got these three inner-related challenges of housing, equity and climate,” Hess said after the ceremony. “We’ve got to continue to look at all our decisions through those lenses and try to move the needle on those issues.”
The four newcomers represent a politically diverse lot, including Jennifer Savage representing Ward 1, Daniel Carlino representing Ward 3, Mike Nugent in Ward 4 and Kristen Jordan in Ward 6.
Engen welcomed the newly elected officials and described the state and U.S. constitutions as guarantees that provide unanimous rights. Those documents and their pledge to their constituents will guide the new council members over the next four years.
“We work together to solve our problems together,” Engen told them. “I have tons of faith that we can continue to work together to make a difference for the folks we are pledging to serve here today.”