Nugent: Why I’m running to serve as Missoula’s mayor
Editor's note: This letter was one of several received prior to the Aug. 23 deadline for accepting letters regarding local municipal races.
Growing up in Missoula, I did not understand how special this place is. I was too busy riding my bike to the fair, going to camp at UM, performing in plays at MCT or going to story hour at the old Missoula Public Library.
Today, as my two children attend our great public schools and embrace the opportunities our community provides, it is clear to me that everything that makes this place special doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of leadership, collaboration, and commitment.
For many of our neighbors, however, life is as hard as it has ever been. Rent and mortgage payments are unaffordable for more and more Missoulians, the vacancy rate is unbearably low, housing costs have increased far beyond wage growth, and there is still not enough housing available for residents to buy and find financial security. It’s imperative that we correct this, and I believe I’m the person to get it done.
Our late Mayor John Engen appointed me to the Missoula Housing Authority Board and when he did, he instructed me to “be bold” to help tackle our housing affordability issues. I have seen housing from the permanent affordability viewpoint at the MHA, the regulatory viewpoint as Chair of Land Use and Planning on City Council, and from the private sector as a broker and housing advocate across Montana.
In addition to my service to MHA, I have a Master's Degree in Public Administration, am Vice President of a statewide company leading over 300 team members, co-own a Missoula small business with my wife's family, and have served the community as President of the United Way and as a board member at the YMCA, along with numerous community boards and committees.
We need to fight hard for the very people who make this community what it is. We are already seeing unprecedented shortages of teachers - if those folks can’t afford to live here, we have failed. Our teachers, police officers, firefighters, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and union members are struggling to survive. I am running for mayor because I want all of these fine people – and my kids and yours – to have the same opportunities to live and work here that we’ve enjoyed.
There has been some talk on these pages about special interest influence in this race, so let’s set the record straight. Our donors are publicly visible on the state website for all to see and we lead the way in fundraising from Missoulians. We have not sought any support from outside groups and our campaign has not received a donation of more than $400 for the primary election from anyone, because that is the law. We cannot direct or control any outside spending, however we don’t want it and we don’t need it. I understand why people are concerned about outside money and it concerns me too. But I can assure you, we answer only to you.
I take pride in being a Missoulian and I want to give back to the community I’ve loved since those days riding my bike with friends. Being Mayor goes beyond talking points and single-issue initiatives. It is about working collaboratively, bringing people together and making sure citizens feel heard and valued. It requires setting ego aside and doing what's in the best interest of our community.
My family and I are ready for the responsibility that comes with this role, and we do not take that commitment lightly. I look forward to working together to ensure that our best days are ahead, for all of us. I would be honored to have your vote.