In advance of the 2019 primary and general elections for six Missoula City Council seats, Missoula Current asked each of the 15 candidates a series of questions based on issues facing city leaders in the years ahead. Their answers will be reprinted verbatim.
We continue the series with Ward 4, where three candidates are vying for one seat. The field will be narrowed to two candidates in the Sept. 10 primary election, with the winner chosen in November’s general election. City Council races are non-partisan; each term is for four years.
Ward 4 includes these neighborhoods: Farviews/Pattee Canyon, Lewis and Clark, Moose Can Gully, Rose Park, Southgate Triangle and a small slice of the University District. John DiBari, the incumbent Ward 4 council member, is not running for reelection. The three candidates, all new to city government, are Alan Ault, Amber Sherrill and Greg Strandberg. Their responses will be published on consecutive days, in alphabetical order.
Q: Do you support the use of tax increment financing as a tool for economic development, job growth and expanding the city’s tax base?
A: No because TIF really doesn’t adequately do any of those things, and the only people who really benefit are multi-millionaire developers. And, because TIF skims off tax moneys that would go to City services, Schools and the County. The only job growth it promotes are entry level minimum wage positions. The developers, if they were to build without taxpayer moneys, would still expand the tax base, so we don’t need TIF to do
Q: Do you support the city’s new housing policy, and what would you do to implement the recommendations?
A: It all depends on the development that the City Council would review. I support a comprehensive housing policy that factors input from city residents and all other stakeholders. Missoula’s City Council needs to start listening to all of us … not just to developers who will make money from this policy. I will continue to review the policy when I’m elected and determine then if it meets the needs of all residents of Missoula. There are a lot of factors that play into the developing policy, and I would take them as they arise.
Q: What would you do to expand the city’s tax base to pay for essential services and the increasing cost of providing those services?
A: We don’t need to expand the city’s tax base. The increased building will expand the tax base automatically, providing we stop giving non-required incentives to multi-millionaires. Missoula has a spending problem which needs to be reviewed and cut back. There are many ways to cut costs: reducing staff, quit using TIF monies are a sure start. We need to make it more affordable to live and work here by cutting red tape at city hall.
Q: Do you believe a series of tweets sent out by President Donald Trump targeting four minority members of Congress this month were racist? Why or why not?
A: I am at a loss to understand what this has to do with running the city of Missoula. Sadly, I believe one of the reasons Missoula is in the fiscal difficulty we are in now is that city leadership too often gets distracted and involved in discussing issues that are not in their job descriptions. People we elect need to be held accountable to do the job they are elected to do, not to waste our time and our money discussing things that have no bearing on how this city is run.
Q: What would you do to ensure the city continues to meet the wide range of citizen demands while keeping an eye on taxes?
A: I would listen. Just as I have been doing as long as I’ve been running for City Council. From people I talk with, the wide range of citizen demands seem to be lower taxes, more police support and better road maintenance. These can be paid for as I previously explained by reducing staff, quit using TIF monies.
Q: What more can the city do to accommodate non-motorized transportation to achieve the goals in the Long Range Transportation Plan?
A: Start looking at secondary roads for bike lanes like other cities do.
Q: What would be your primary goal as a member of the City Council? How would you fund it?
A: Lower tax burdens on our citizens and increase support of the police, fire department and first responders. The funding is already there, we just need to cut spending and defer projects. Tighten the belt, reign in spending.