There were 7 of us candidates there and about 30 regular people.
It lasted about 2 hours and everyone had a chance to speak on a wide-number of issues.
Peter Friesen of the Missoulian was at the forum and he did a write-up in the paper today.
I got mentioned a couple times, and I liked this bit:
“Strandberg came equipped with pages of numbers he’d culled from the city’s budget, citing around $27 million of spending (through Urban Renewal Districts, independent agencies like the parking division, and the general fund) he found unnecessary.
So much of that could go toward needed items, Strandberg thought, such as subsidizing housing or increased snow plowing services. Or, it could simply lower taxes.”
Here's that list:
- $7 million for mall developers
- $4 million for Reserve Street Pedestrian Bridge
- $3.5 million to the Mercantile Investors
- $3.2 million for a downtown parking structure
- $3 million to buy EKO Compost
- $1.6 million for the new downtown parking meters in 2016
- $1.6 million to reduce Higgins Avenue to 3 lanes on the bridge
- $1.5 million to Stockman Bank a year after construction started
- $1 million in April 2017 for Mary Avenue changes
- $500,000 a year to a cemetery that’s so poorly managed it has to crowd in on the private sector.
- $200,000 for a one-way street study in April, 2017
- $172,000 for a storm water drain study in June 2017
- $122,000 a year for parking meter upkeep
- $50,000 to Berkshire Hathaway in April 2017 to improve their building
- $50,000 to study Brooks Street in April 2017
- $48,000 to hire someone to look at a gate in May 2017
- $20,000 in April 2017 to study Higgins Avenue
- $16,000 paid to a California company for website work
- $12,500 for a workforce study in April 2017 (Cancelled)
That’s $27.5 million for all that.
I had a guy come up to me after the forum. He told me that when I start reading off those numbers, it puts people to sleep.
He’s got a good point, but I feel we want our City Councilors to know this stuff, even if regular working people don’t want to hear about it.
Mostly, I felt I was the most prepared, had the most numbers, had the most knowledge, and I think that helped.
I even noticed some of the other candidates begin to echo me, on things like the overwhelming number of miscellaneous expenses in the city budget.
We’ll see how it goes.
Absentee ballots go out in 13 days, and that’s the only way you can vote – by mail.
So most people that are registered should vote, but I do feel the turnout will be in the 20-25% range.
A big question is who’ll win the mayoral race. There’s a forum for that tonight, at Paxson School at 6 PM.
Aside from that, you can also read my latest letter to the Missoulian, which went up today. It’ll be my last letter of the election.
You can also see a bit on NBC Montana about the recent hoopla over the Festival of the Dead Celebration and parade here in Missoula.
Here's what I had to say:
"It's been going on a long time, and a lot of families enjoy it. The downtown businesses enjoy it, and I think a small but vocal minority is not happy, and that's usually how it goes in Missoula, and we should focus on majorities for a change and not minorities," said Strandberg.
Thanks for reading!