Open seat in Ward 2 draws 13 applicants for City Council

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Members of the Missoula City Council will have 13 candidates to choose from as they look to replace Harlan Wells, who resigned from his seat in Ward 2 to take a job with the state.

The application process, which closed this month, drew a wide field of applicants, each looking to play a role in local government. Members of the City Council will each select a single applicant on Monday, Jan. 9, for interviews planned before the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 11.

The preferred applicant will be selected by the council in a voting process planned for Jan. 23. The applicants are listed below and includes a portion of their response as to why they want to represent Ward 2 on the City Council.

Mirtha Becerra is a former transportation and land-use planner with Missoula County and the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“I believe Ward 2 is a unique and very interesting area that has and will continue to face diverse challenges ranging from natural and environmental resource conservation to business and affordable housing development. Working more closely with the community on these issues is something I have always been interested in.”

Kenneth Chatriand is the director of pharmacy at the University of Montana and the former pharmacy manager at Albertsons.

“I believe a person with strong Montana values such as myself is an excellent person to maintain the values and ethics of our community. Ward 2 has a very unique community with many different and distinct needs. I know that I can lead and help foster an environment for the enrichment of not only Ward 2 but also Missoula.”

Francisco Crespo is an attorney at Francisco J. Crespo Law

“I am genuinely interested in the decision making process of local government. I believe that I have the skills and experience to contribute to this position in a manner that will benefit the city of Missoula. If I am chosen for this position I will contribute my very best efforts to making the city of Missoula a better place to live for all Missoulians.”

Mike Curran is a laborer at Metal Works of Montana.

“To be informed at to let the (families) and people of Ward 2 know what is going on. Transparency.”

Adam Ehlers is the project manager at Chetco Seafood Co. and former owner and operator of Chicken Bacon Tater.

“The economic, public, and private surge of growth into our ward is going to take a great deal of management and care, and a coalition of people who are focused on improving the lives of those most affected. I’m proud to raise my kids on the Westside, later sending them to public school, and my interest is being the voice of the majority of constituents, and to help City Council balance a budget that moves Missoula ahead.”

Gail Gutsche is a former member of the Montana Public Service Commission and served on the Montana Legislature.

“I have experience with numerous issues in front of the council including affordable housing, land use planning, growth management, transportation, tourist homes, sewer extension, property taxes, the master jail diversion plan, and the transfer of Mountain Water to City ownership.”

Dale Kirk attached no resume.

“I am interested in the purchase of Mountain Water where I could apply the skills I have learned. I could be a resource for the council with knowledge of water systems and costs.”

William Joseph Maesar is a hospice nurse case manager with Parners in Home Care and a former registered nurse at St. Patrick Hospital.

“People I’ve recently met as a hospice nurse, through political volunteer work, and through social media; following the 2016 elections, and my own research has led me to believe that average working men and women are vastly underrepresented at all levels of government. My primary interest is to be a voice for those people that are struggling to survive.”

Jack Metcalf is an adjunct assistant professor art at the University of Montana.

“As a single father and homeowner with a modest income in Ward 2, I’d serve my constituents with open ears, and feel my experience credentials me as a strong and empathetic candidate for City Council. I am invested, both financially and emotionally, in Ward 2. I would be honored to guide our future to a place where all residents can succeed in this extremely class-diverse ward.”

David Neu was an adjunct instructor of carpentry at Missoula Collage and worked as a journeyman carpenter at the Missoula Carousel.

“I have a particular interest in solving the affordable housing crisis, providing living wages for those most in need, creating jobs in sustainable industries, and developing a sound master plan for the future growth and quality of life for our citizens. I am greatly challenged to achieve these goals as a representative on the City Council.”

Roger Seewald attached no resume.

“I have a sincere interest in the needs of residents in Missoula, with particular emphasis on those in Ward 2. I also want to work closely with other City Council members to ensure the needs and interests of the citizens of Missoula take priority in the decision making process. There should be a balance of ideology on the City Council so all residents feel they are being heard.”

Mark Storud attached no resume.

“To be more involved in our community and help serve others.”

Ruth Swaney is the Native American Natural Resources Program coordinator at the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana.

“I believe it is important to be engaged in service to my community. I have periodically attended City Council meetings and am aware of some of the issues the Council addresses.”