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 - To say we are experiencing anything other than a housing crisis in Missoula is disingenuous, and we need to acknowledge this calls for solutions at every level of our market, for both renters and owners. People of all walks of life are struggling to find housing that fits their needs and their budget. Missoula has tremendous resources and great community advocates and partners working on this issue continuously which puts us in a great position to find greater success. I believe we need to approach these solutions with an "all of the above" plan that continues to develop affordable and attainable housing for those making below the median area income and as well as those above it. We can not solve this problem by focusing on one area at the expense of another. We need to create churn in our housing inventory of rental units and ownership opportunities which means finding solutions across the spectrum, from publicly subsidized through market rate. Solving this crisis in a meaningful way is going to take all of us, with tremendous opportunities for creativity and bold actions with public-private partnerships. Check out our Housing section for more information and updates.
Infrastructure - All of it! - When I say infrastructure is one of my priorities, I am talking about roads, trails, sidewalks, parking, public transportation... Basically, everything we use to deliver people, goods, and services to the places they need to be every day. 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. 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. If we are making decisions to encourage alternative transportation, we need to make sure the current opportunities will adequately serve the need. We cannot simply ignore parking and vehicle access issues in this conversation or we will create bigger problems or end up with underutilized areas with significant public investment. Our policies need to have the flexibility to meet these moments, both present and future. Check out our Infrastructure 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.
Equality For All - Every person has the right to be true to themselves and live a life free of discrimination, hate, and systemic barriers. I believe we must push back against cruelty and legislation designed to protect discriminatory practices. I am proud that Missoula is the leader in our state when it comes to non-discrimination policies and feel bold action to protect people's rights is always welcomed. Live and let live. Check out our Equality for All section for more information and updates.
- Protecting our Environment - As I have mentioned, our environment provides us all many opportunities to recreate, relax, recharge, and simply survive. Everything we do must factor in the impacts we are leaving behind. No solutions will be perfect, and there are times when the decisions will be between high-impact options, but we must do our best to consider outcomes and balance them with basic human needs as best we can. Check out our Protecting our Environment section for more information and updates.