Missoula City Council finalizes mayoral candidate questions, adds two more
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Members of the Missoula City Council on Wednesday approved a list of questions to ask six mayoral candidates during interviews scheduled to take place next week.
They also added two new questions that had been lacking from the original list, including one on taxes and the economy, and another on the issue of houselessness.
“I think we have our questions where we want them,” said acting mayor Gwen Jones. “They're in a good place.”
The list of final questions remains similar to the draft presented last week. But one question regarding the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, which others saw as leading and biased, was rephrased to retain the council member's “original intent” but without the skewed language.
Council members and the public hope to hear the candidates elaborate on their answers to all questions.
“I would recommend asking the applicants to explain the reasons for their position,” said City Clerk Marty Rehbein. “We want to hear why that have that opinion.”
As agreed upon, the questions cover a range of subjects, from collaborating with Missoula County Public Schools to security at the city's homeless camps and shelters. One asks about balancing personal ideology with those who may disagree, while another asks candidates how they would manage more than 900 city staff members.
While most were happy with the range of questions, the original list had several glaring omissions, including the economy, jobs, taxation and homelessness. The council on Wednesday addressed that issue by adding two new questions.
One will ask a candidate how they'd address high property taxes given the state's limitations on how local government can generate revenue. Another will ask candidates their views on homelessness and how they'd address it, if at all.
“It did come to my attention there are not questions addressing the houselessness problem,” said council member Sandra Vasecka. “I was hoping we could add another question. I'd be willing to switch my question out to ask a houselessness question.”
The question was added without having to omit another question.
“I agree having a question regarding houselessness is important,” said council member Stacie Anderson. “We want to keep these interviews succinct, but that's a major issue facing the community.”
Interviews will take place next Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m., and candidates are expected to appear in person at City Council Chambers to participate. Each interview will be run by the Montana League of Women voters and run 50 minutes.
“I sent an email to the folks that you're interviewing and told them they should plan to appear in person, unless they're unwell,” said Rehbein.