Filing ends on Monday at 5 PM.
If you wait until the last minute, you better have your candidate bank account ready, because they’ll likely ask for a debit card transaction. They’ll notarize the paperwork for you right there.
Don’t go in 10 minutes before filing ends, thinking you’ll be alright. They’ll probably find some excuse to keep you from the ballot.
That said, I’m not convinced we’re going to see a flood of new candidates come to the fore on Monday. In fact, I’d be surprised if more than 1 or 2 additional people file, and those likely for the judge positions, perhaps one of the more crowded wards, possibly setting up a September primary.
Yeah, that means you'll have two months to campaign (ballots are mailed a month before election day).
This set-up works well for incumbents and the chosen ones, not so well for unknowns and those trying to break into government.
And how are the current 21 candidates doing (13 for council, 6 for judge, and 2 for mayor)?
Some really well, some terribly. You’ll learn all about it in the paragraphs to follow.
We won’t know how well the candidates are doing financially for a few more days when the next round of campaign finance reports come out. They’re due on June 20 and COPP will probably have them all up by Tuesday. The next reports come out on the 20th of each month after that, so I’ll have lots of updates for you.
We’ll know long before election day who’s going to win and who’s going to lose based on those reports, where the money’s coming from, where it’s being spent, on what, and with whom. Very important stuff, especially for career politicians in this town and their hanger’s-on and the firms they run.
In the meantime...what are these candidates doing...and who the hell are they? Because if you’re anything like me, you haven’t seen hide nor hair about these folks, or anything from them.
I don’t do social media, so I hear nothing there. The Missoulian doesn’t even give you 1 free article a month anymore, so any letters-to-the-editor they’re writing, I’m not reading (and most aren’t writing any). And as far as I can tell, none of them are knocking on doors and none of them have signs out, aside from Jacob Elder.
So what are they doing? Mainly playing around on Facebook.
Many candidates have websites, but they put them up and then forget about them. They’re static, boring. Amazingly, not a single candidate in the 3-way Ward 1 race even has a website!
Let’s examine some of the city council candidates that do have a presence online. I think you’ll be able to tell who really wants to win, who doesn’t think they have much of a chance, who just doesn’t care, and who thinks they can do nothing, yet somehow coast to an easy victory.
Six Pony Hitch’s Jennifer Savage has done nothing over the past few months to build a website or a presence on social media. Either she does not care at all about serving, or she considers herself such a shoo-in that she doesn’t need to care. Either way, you know how much she cares. I did manage to find her on the Dem-stronghold of Twitter, and my...she’s very far to the left, very.
Kevin Hunt doesn’t have a website but does have Facebook, with 321 likes. His last post was June 8.
Sheena Comer Winterer has made no attempt at either a website or a Facebook page since she filed to run. I’m sorry...but what am I missing with this race? Why do these two women feel they don’t have to do anything online? And if they’re doing nothing there...what are they doing? I can’t wait to see the finance reports from them.
Jordan Hess is not a popular or well-liked politician. He created his Facebook page in 2013 and has managed to garner 150 likes since then. His last post was in 2017. Amazingly, his website is actually worse. A fellow councilor, Becerra, is his treasurer. This guy is screaming out to anyone that’ll listen, ‘I don’t really want to run anymore - beat me.’
Rebecca Dawson is with the local GOP and she’s not afraid to let you know that. I love the image of her holding signs outside the Sleepy Inn, protesting that terrible purchase. She has lots of videos and other info on her site. She’s a lot more serious than Hess is, but Hess is the favored, chosen-by-Engen Dem, in other words, very hard to beat. Her Facebook page is a little vague, but her last post was June 14.
Dori Gilels has a website, with about 70 endorsements from local Dems. On Facebook, she has 233 likes, yet hasn’t put up a post since January 29. She doesn’t need to post or even knock on doors. Engen and his crowd have already chosen her to win in November, her site makes that very clear. I’ve seen the same many times over the years.
Daniel Carlino has a website and a Facebook page. The latter has 900 likes and his last post was June 10. But there’s a huge problem: Carlino is most likely going to have to announce on Monday that he can’t be a candidate...because he lost his old apartment and can’t find a new one in his ward. If that happens, Ward 3 will just have one candidate - Dori Gilels. So this is a very good ward for someone to file in come Monday. You have a very decent chance of making somewhat of a decent showing against the unknown Gilels. Monica Tranel is her treasurer and John DiBari endorsed her. She’s the establishment candidate in this race, the favored Dem, so she'll be tough.
Mike Nugent has a website, and his News & Issues page was last updated on March 31. On Facebook he has 240 likes and his last update was May 26. A recent post shows him helping break ground on the new Villagio housing complex, showing that he’s one of the favored ones in Missoula, a chosen winner for this November. Doesn’t hurt having daddy as the city attorney, either.
Alan Ault has a Facebook page with 500 likes, but his last post was all the way back in September 2020...over 9 months ago. He doesn’t have a website, and I’m not sure how people are expected to donate to him. Sometimes you might see him driving around town in the ‘Ault-mobile,’ a beat-up old car with his campaign signs on the doors. Sorry...but that’s just not gonna cut it, not against someone that’s already self-financed his campaign to the tune of $4,000, probably more by now.
Stacie Anderson has the same problem as Jordon Hess - no one cares. She created her Facebook page in 2017 and has received just 365 likes during that time. And remember, this is one of the things that social media cesspit is designed for - to be a popularity contest. Well, Stacie ain’t winning. Her last post was April 26 and nearly all of her posts have zero engagement. She doesn’t have a website, and I’m not sure how much Engen cares for her. She could be quite vulnerable. Remember, she didn’t announce she’d even run again until a few days ago. I think she wants to hang it up, but was pressured to run again to give Engen a somewhat reliable vote.
Bob Campbell made a common mistake - he filed with his full name, Robert C. Campbell, and that doesn’t come up on the search engines. But Bob Campbell does, and there you’ll find his website and Facebook page. On the latter he has 295 likes and his last post was June 15. This guy wants to be elected bad, and with his law and order background of being a cop, I think he stands a good chance. I think he wants it more than Stacie, and that could be all it comes down to.
Kristen Jordan doesn’t have a Facebook page, but she does have the worst candidate website I’ve seen in years. Here’s what one page says:
“Meet Kristen. Use this page to describe your education, accomplishments, service to the community, your roots, your family - information to help prospective voters better understand who you are. You can edit this page by going to the "Pages" section in the control panel and clicking the "Edit" link next to "Meet Kristen".”
Oh...My...God. And remember, this woman filed way back in April! But you know what? She’s the manager of the city’s criminal justice services division, she’s had several write-ups in the city’s propaganda rag, and likely knows this is all she needs to do to ‘win.’ Alas, if there’s one bright spot, she did put the time and effort into making sure her site’s ‘donate’ button works.
Finally, we have Tom Taylor. He has no presence on Facebook and no campaign website. This baffles me, and it clearly shows me we need a serious candidate for this ward that often flips! Because neither of these two seem to be putting any effort forth, and there’s virtually no time to go, just about three months, if you don’t have a primary. Tom here is in serious trouble, and he needs serious help if he wants to field a decent campaign.
Elections don’t really matter in Missoula, and we know this because nothing ever changes. Things used to change too much locally, so the Dems moved the elections to off-years in the early-1990s. They’ve been in control ever since, and ever since, the town’s become more unlivable.
This is what you get with one-party rule, with all three branches of government taken up by Dems for over a generation now.
Will this year be the year it all starts to change? Well, judging by the social media postings of the favored candidates (or lack thereof, in some cases), I think it’s clear that some people believe they’ll coast to easy victories.
Why is this? They probably had a sit-down with Engen or some of his cronies or controllers, and came to a deal. Something like, ‘you vote this way on these issues, and I’ll make sure you have no real competition.’
The candidates say yes, and typically long before filing even starts. Then the favored donors are notified, and the campaign cash starts rolling in, making it clear to any potential opponents that they should just give up before they even start.
This is Missoula politics.
Don’t like it? You have until Monday to let the town know.