My wife Staci and I are raising two wonderful children, James and Hannah — with a great assist from our Missoula community and all the natural and cultural beauty and opportunity that surrounds us in Western Montana. I care deeply about our environment in the Missoula valley, and I recognize that every decision we make has an impact on the great quality of life we enjoy here. I also know that people’s fears and concerns about changing their daily lives shouldn’t be simply dismissed under the banner of progress. Our community dialogue needs to listen to all viewpoints and welcome minority opinions with genuine interest to work towards consensus solutions. Being good stewards of the environment and equality for all are overarching beliefs I hold and they will be the basis for every consideration and decision I make, as well as influencing all my priorities which I will outline below.
Housing - Put simply, people who work in Missoula ought to be able to live in Missoula. If we don’t figure this out soon, Missoula will become unrecognizable. Our community and region is experiencing incredible population growth, and adequate planning is imperative to absorb that change. We need a vision for how Missoula can continue being an economic and cultural engine in the Northern Rockies without losing its unique character. We also have an obligation to ensure that we are providing housing opportunities for all so that Missoula fulfills the promise of equity and inclusion that the generation before us worked so hard for. We must build housing to meet population growth and do so with inventory across the spectrum of housing needs both for rent and for sale. Other measures, while important, are simply a stopgap. We cannot continue to fall further behind our needs each year. Solutions must stretch from the unhoused to the over-housed creating healthy turnover and downsizing activity and encouraging equitable opportunities that respect people’s health, safety, and dignity. We are in a crisis and need to respond accordingly to create an equitable protection of our health and safety. Check out our Housing section for more information and updates.
- Regulatory Code Reform - It won’t fit on a bumper sticker, but the current effort to reform the Missoula code from top to bottom is the single largest opportunity we have to improve the lives of Missoulians. Code reform can improve outcomes, reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers that frustrate our staff and anger our residents, and create an inclusive environment that gives all residents the opportunity to build a business, own a home, start a club, organize an event, or even recreate in one of our wonderful open spaces. Code reform also gives us the opportunity to live our values by eliminating systemic barriers that create and foster implicit bias in outcomes. Missoula has taken the lead on many of these issues, but we have an opportunity to tie them all together during code reform to enhance and promote the efficacy of these policies. Check out our Regulatory Code Reform section for more information and updates.
Transportation and Infrastructure - Roads, trails, sidewalks, parking, public transportation — we use these every day to deliver people, goods, and services to the places they need to be. As Missoula grows, we've had and will continue to have opportunities to expand our trails, connect our urban bike-ped paths, and improve the ways Missoulians get around town. Our investment in public transit to achieve seven-day-a-week service is a huge step forward in meeting our goals. We need to make decisions with our minds in the present and our eyes on the future. We also need to make sure that these decisions are not adversely impacting the ability of our fellow community members to live, work, play, and shop in the areas we love. Our policies need to have the flexibility to meet these moments, both present and future. Likewise, we need to have a long-range vision for what rapidly changing technology can bring to these efforts. Finally, we need to be conscious of the ways that we can promote equity, diversity and inclusion through transportation policy by breaking down traditional geographic barriers. Check out our Transportation and Infrastructure section for more information and updates.
Property Taxes - Although the City of Missoula has worked to keep property tax burdens low, a one-legged stool will inevitably fall over as the weight on it begins to grow and shift. The last forty years have seen a dramatic shift away from commercial and industrial properties bearing the brunt of the property tax burden to residential property owners. Without bold action, a solution will be imposed on Missoulians, and it will likely not meet with their approval. Likewise, any locally-crafted solutions need to be inclusive and receive broad community support in order to avoid being canceled out during the next legislative session. I believe that special districts may present some such opportunities, but they will take broad community engagement and understanding. I also believe that such community dialogue could lead to unique solutions that may not have been previously considered. Finally, Missoula needs to work with the legislature to develop and implement broader relief for residential property taxpayers, particularly considering the state has a billion-dollar revenue surplus. Check out our Property Taxes section for more information and updates.
Energy Conservation and Climate Action - The City of Missoula has a climate action plan which calls for City operations to be carbon neutral by 2025. We are taking steps to achieve these goals, including the zero-waste initiative and the forthcoming solar energy project at the Wastewater Treatment Facility. Now is a time for us to recognize the recent opportunities opened with Federal legislation and to be bold in our efforts. Recycling, waste-management, energy conservation and even alternative energy production — we should not be afraid to have the big conversations and see what opportunities arise. We also need to be consciously inclusive in these efforts to ensure that policies protect and enhance our environment equitably for all Missoulians. Check out our Protecting our Environment section for more information and updates.
- Public-Private Partnerships - This isn't your catchy, routine, fit on a bumper-sticker priority, but it may be what I am most excited to explore. I want to be clear right up front that I do NOT support a no-strings-attached giveaway to developers nor am I advocating for significant new funds but rather better focusing the funds we already use through programs like Tax Increment Financing and Urban Renewal Projects. As we all know, in housing and other areas, we have serious challenges and I believe these challenges won't be solved by public investment or private ingenuity alone. Time and again, the Missoula community has shown a willingness to invest public money in ways that enrich the community and fill basic needs through voter-approved bonds to Tax Increment Financing grants and Urban Renewal projects. I think we have a tremendous opportunity to leverage some of these public investments to assure more long-term community benefits or to remove some risks from our private sector partners in exchange for more sustainable benefits, such as in the area of affordable housing. If we are bold in our thinking, we can help move Missoula forward. Check out our Public-Private Partnerships section for more information and updates.
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