Missoula mayoral interviews: Evidence, data would drive Avery’s decisions as mayor
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
While Teigan Avery answered “no” in her application when asked if she'd be able to meet the commitments as mayor if appointed to the job, she said Wednesday that the answer didn't properly translate.
If appointed to the job, Avery clarified that she would be able to work the hours required and does plan to run for election.
You can read Avery's application for job by following this link.
“I do intend to fulfill the full-time, overtime obligations as mayor,” said Avery. “Being a good mayor is being a good neighbor. It's something I'm already doing in my work-life balance. To build the coalitions that Missoula needs for strong governance, I will work tirelessly 9 to 5, and evenings and weekends as needed as mayor, and continue to live my life doing the volunteer things I already do.”
Avery, the only woman nominated for an interview and the youngest among the six candidates, said she was idealistic enough to see a bright future for the city but tough enough not to pander to constituents.
She'd be willing to make difficult choices and work on making decisions based upon collaboration, data and evidence. Among those issues, housing remains top of mind, she said.
“The way the mayor could best address housing in Missoula while maintaining Missoula's character is through intentional zoning,” she said. “I'd work to ensure that everything that goes before City Council in terms of land use and zoning is very intentional and thinks about the implication of those zoning changes, not just in the next year, but the next 30 years.”
Avery praised the Missoula Redevelopment Agency for its contributions toward housing, and she lauded the city for its goals around climate change, including its push to achieve 100% clean electricity, zero waste and its support for an electrified public transit system.
If appointed, she'd work to direct funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to place all city street lights on solar. She'd also explore similar initiatives while on taxes, she said she'd take a “progressive” route.
“I'd like to have a conversation about progressive property taxes in Missoula and see how we can have an equitable system in which people pay by ability and not taxed out of their homes,” she said. “This also has to go in concert with the Montana League of Cities and Towns to make sure we have a strong relationship in Helena with our legislators to support the needs of Montana towns that are under strain from tremendous growth and need extra support from the state government.”
On the flip side, Avery said she'd also look at city spending.
“Every year the mayor has to submit an annual budget. I want to re-analyze that budget and make sure we're getting our best bang for the buck in Missoula and spending things as wisely as we can,” Avery said. “All this talk of taxing and revenue and spending really fits into my economics training in looking at the larger implications and behavioral changes that will come into play when you tax things differently, or when you change the way you spend on services.”
Each applicant for the job as mayor was posed 10 published questions during their allotted 50-minute interview, which was moderated by the Montana League of Women Voters. Avery had 20 minutes remaining after her interview was finished.
“We've covered a lot of topics, which is what a mayor does,” she said. “A mayor has to be a jack of all trades, a master of none. That's why it's very important that a mayor listens and knows who they can listen to. That's what I aspire to be as mayor.”