Missoula Current

The application window to replace Ward 2 council member Harlan Wells for the duration of his term opened this week, kicking off the multi-phase process to replace him.

Wells announced earlier this month his intention to resign his seat to take a job as director of business services under Montana's new Secretary of State.

Ginny Merriam, director of communications for the city of Missoula, said sitting council members will each select a singe applicant to interview.

“The order of the interviews will then be determined by drawing candidate names from a hat,” Merriam said. “Interviews will be conducted by the City Council’s Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, Jan. 11. If necessary, they may continue on subsequent dates, to be determined.”

Once the interview process has been completed, the council will vote on an interim replacement at a Monday night City Council meeting. The winning candidate must receive a majority vote from the council.

According to city statute, an appointment must be named within 30 days of the actual commencement of the vacancy in the position.

“The person appointed will become a temporary interim City Council member after taking the oath of office,” Merriam said. “Since there are more than two years remaining in Wells’ unexpired term of office, the remainder of the unexpired term is required to be placed on the next general municipal election ballot in November 2017.”

The process was last conducted in 2015 after Ward 4 council member Caitlin Copple resigned her seat to take another job. That effort saw six replacement candidates field questions from the council, including issues ranging from growth and development to the city’s attempt to take ownership of Mountain Water Co.

The council eventually selected Patrick Weasel Head over John DiBari in the final round of close voting. The two ran in the following election, where DiBari won the seat and holds it currently.

To be considered for the position, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen and a citizen of Montana. He or she must also have resided in Ward 2 for 60 days prior to the appointment and be eligible to vote.

The ward includes the Westside and Grant Creek neighborhoods, as well as areas within city limits that sit west of Russell Street and north of the Clark Fork River.

The position pays $1,215 per month and includes city benefits.