City of Missoula opens application period for mayoral succession
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
The City of Missoula on Tuesday officially opened the application period to candidates looking to fill the mid-term vacancy left by Monday's passing of Mayor John Engen.
Applicants must be registered to vote, live within the city limits, and have been a Montana resident for three years. They must also have been a city resident for two years and be 21 years of age.
According to a release from the city, the position currently pays $8,284 per month.
“A vacancy in a Montana municipal election must be open and subject to election at the next city general election for any unexpired term in office,” Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent said in a legal opinion released on Tuesday. “In the interim, the elected municipal office must be filled by a vote of a majority of the members of the City Council within 30 days of the vacancy.”
Engen, who died Monday at the age of 57 due to pancreatic cancer, was the city's longest-serving mayor, and members of the City Council said they'll be diligent in selecting a replacement.
“I'll be looking for someone who can understand and appreciate local government at some level, and be able to lead this community,” council President Gwen Jones said on Monday.
Under the city's rules of succession, Jones will serve as the city's acting mayor until a replacement is named. The city will hold the application period open for candidate filings for 10 days. Council members then will each have an opportunity to nominate one candidate to interview on Aug. 29.
When it comes time to select an applicant on Sept. 7, council members will begin voting on the nominated finalists until one receives a majority vote. The process will play out publicly and the selected individual will hold the office until the next municipal election.
“In order to be eligible to be mayor of the City of Missoula, the person must be a citizen of the United States, a registered city voter, at least 21 years old, a resident of the state of Montana for three years, and a resident of the City of Missoula for at least 2 years preceding election to the office of mayor,” Nugent said.
As applications come in over the next week, some have already expressed an opinion on who should serve in Engen's stead. Former mayoral candidate Jacob Elder took to Facebook suggesting he should now serve as mayor.
"The citizens (Missoulians) chose their replacement on November 2, 2022! Our campaign received the second most vote!"
Elder lost to Engen in the 2022 primary, in which Elder received 35% of the vote to Engen's 61%, or a margin of 6,446 votes.