Current Martin Kidston/Missoula
Nineteen candidates met the filing deadline on Friday — several at the last minute — in their bid to replace future mayor John Engen as city leader.
Two of the 19 are current Missoula City Council members, including Jordan Hess and Mike Nugent, one is a former Patrick Weasel Head City Councilman and one is a former mayoral candidate for Jacob Elder.
Now that the application period is over, each City Council member will have the opportunity to nominate one of 19 candidates for interviews, which will be conducted by the Montana League of Women Voters.
This week, Council members began compiling a list of questions they intend to ask each candidate. While two of the questions represent the favorite priorities of two specific council members and have been criticized as such, the other questions seek to explore a candidate’s job philosophy and the city’s top priorities.
No questions so far relate to economic issues, employment, taxation or growth.
Once the candidates have been interviewed, the city council will begin the process of nominating a new mayor. This is the same process used to appoint a person to fill a vacant seat on City Council or a judge on the Municipal Court if a seat becomes vacant mid-term.
The winning candidate will need to win at least seven votes on city council, even if all 12 council members are not present. The more board members who are not present, the more difficult it can be to reach this threshold of seven votes.
“Someone’s name has to be called seven times for the nomination to be made,” City Clerk Marty Rehbein said. “If no candidate receives seven votes, the vote will be rolled over until someone gets seven votes in that particular group of candidates.”
But under city rules, if council takes two roll-call votes that result in the same result and no nominees, then new nominees can be nominated. These candidates can be anyone who qualifies for the position, even if they have not applied or interviewed.
However, this is not the preferred outcome.
“Firing from outside is probably not the best solution. I would be hesitant to step out of the pool, bring someone in and make them mayor,” said acting mayor and council chairman Gwen Jones.
Whoever is nominated to serve as mayor will need to run in the next mayoral election to complete Engen’s term, which expires in 2023. At that time, another mayoral election will be held for a full term.
In alphabetical order, the nominees are:
- Brandi Atanasoff
- Teigan Avery
- Jacob Elder
- Ken Grind
- Jordan Hesse
- Sam Kulla
- Menodora The Master
- Sean McCoy
- Mike Nugent
- Scott Ranf
- Fred Rice
- Shane Rooney
- Todd Smith
- Michael Sowell
- Tyler Taylor
- Gilles Thélen
- Michael Thomas
- Neighborhood Logan
- Patrick Weasel Head