Missoula mayoral interviews: Weasel Head would ‘open the door to others’ if appointed as placeholder
Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
Patrick Weasel Head touched upon the issues he'd consider addressing if appointed to the office of mayor on Wednesday, but he said he had no plans to run for office and would simply prepare the post for another successor.
Weasel Head, who was appointed in a similar fashion to serve on the Missoula City Council nearly a decade ago and remains the only Native American to have held a seat in local government, said he would continue a number of existing city initiatives.
You can read Weasel Head's job application by following this link.
“I do not plan on running for office. Yet I will be an active place holder and push for Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within the organization. I'd plan on opening the doors for others to run for the office based upon the concepts of the institution.”
Weasel Head's interview began nearly 30 minutes late and when it began, he kept his answers “short and succinct.” On the issue of housing, he said the pace of construction would likely alleviate issues around supply and demand, and prices would soon stabilize.
“I think the system will work itself out, so housing won't be an issue in the long-run,” he said. “Missoula is building on almost all open spaces with multiple stories of apartments, which might take care of the issue.”
Weasel Head also supported downtown construction, saying that while Missoula has changed, it has retained its values and character and “will always be a college town,” providing an array of services.
But when it comes to taxes paid by property owners, he said the city must first understand where it ranks with peer cities and what solutions may be on the table.
“Taxes and limited resources are important to me. If we start paying taxes and I'm on a fixed income – and a lot of my fellow citizens are on fixed incomes – a huge portion of their budget is taken out of these taxes."
Weasel Head took issue with the perceived lack of communication around municipal and county taxes, and even more so with recent bond campaigns run by special interest groups.
He said most groups push for public support of their bond by stating that it would raise taxes by a mere $10 or $20 on a home valued at $100,000. But in reality, he said, most homes in Missoula are worth many times more and the true tax implications of a bond are rarely revealed.
“Communication to the residents of raising or lowering taxes must be explained,” he said. “Communication is really important to our community. If property taxes are out of whack with similar cities of our size, then we need to understand the discrepancies.”
Weasel Head said he supports the city's work around homelessness but believes more can be done to differentiate the needs, including mental health and substance abuse. The city's current range of homeless services could be reviewed for their successes and failures, leaving room for changes or improvements.
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.
“My support for Missoula's strategic plan has been strong, with its push for a more inclusive and effective government. I feel I have the empathy and understanding of all our citizens through my activities of the past, and understand their communities,” he said, stressing collaboration across the community. “Together, we can make Missoula stand tall and be a candle of brightness for others to help develop their communities.”