Viewpoint: Hess’ progressive policies just what Missoula needs
Editor's note: This letter was one of several received prior to the Aug. 23 deadline for accepting letters regarding local municipal races.
Nan Dunne Byington
Elections are challenging, and it can be tempting to check out from the seemingly endless noise. Nevertheless, the 2023 Missoula mayoral race is where our attention should be now. My personal bottom line for making a choice is examined integrity. Therefore, I have chosen Jordan Hess, the only candidate with a proven public record of remarkable achievements that forward the common good, as my vote for Missoula’s mayor.
His dedication to the gritty work of manifesting his vision is on record. As Director of Transportation at the University of Montana Jordan Hess led UM to be the first college campus in the nation to provide environmentally sound electric buses.
As a city council member, elected by my neighbors based on his record of community service, Hess has been on camera, every Monday for almost a decade, participating in and making profound positive differences, one of the primary authors of initiatives that have become what’s best about our town. He has served as chair of the Public Works Committee, chair of the Transportation Policy Coordinating Committee, chair of the Land Use and Planning Committee and Vice President of the Council. This translates to demonstrably productive working relationships with a variety of entities throughout our town, developed and maintained over many years.
Hess has championed Missoula’s zero-waste and clean energy goals, including successful expansion of our trail network and conservation lands. Hess is responsible for facilitating growth in the diversity of the city's transportation options. Hess’ most profound contribution to date was his instrumental role in the acquisition of our citywide water system, now known as Missoula Water.
Jordan Hess is a quiet guy, a worker not a celebrity, and he gets things – a lot of things- done. His record of accomplishment proves his devotion to the City of Missoula's mission and strategic vision; he has been central to manifesting our current culture with concrete projects, completed. He knows the best decisions are made in an atmosphere of collaboration with equity and sustainability at the bottom line.
He is committed to continuing to promote livability and equity in new development; he helped create Montana’s first local Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which has subsidized hundreds of affordable homes for Missoulians, including veterans-specific housing. He has the relationships and the savvy to leverage funding sourced beyond our town, bringing in tens of millions of dollars to build new roads, water mains and sewer lines.
Jordan Hess was chosen by his peers in elected local leadership as our interim mayor and he has continued to grapple with and manifest progress in the most complex issues we face. He is working with the mayors of other Montana cities to push for legislative change that will make tourism dollars to provide tax relief for residents. His integrity was never more evident than when he condemned legislators out for their dishonorable behavior toward Rep. Zooey Zephyr and all disgraceful endangerment of Montana’s LGBTQ+ citizens.
I have considered the other candidates. Jordan Hess has transitioned seamlessly into the role of interim mayor and has continued without a single missed beat as a meaningfully effective public servant, making his contributions with dignity and steady devotion. As a life-long exuberant feminist and progressive activist, I’m delighted to have a stellar candidate who happens to be a white male. My feminism doesn’t require a gender test, and I am proud of the progressive policy-making Hess is party to even in the face of our state-wide culture wars.
The facts are that none of the other candidates have anything like the actual record of achievements over time that Jordan Hess has. Hess deserves our gratitude and respect. He has earned our vote.