MISSOULA - Voters weighed in in the Missoula Municipal Primary Election on Tuesday, September 12, 2023, to decide which two candidates in the mayoral race will move on to November's election.
Additionally, Ward 5 had three people competing for Missoula City Council and that field will narrow.
Andrea Davis — who is the executive director of Homeword — has claimed the top spot while current Missoula City Council member Mike Nugent finished in second place. Current Mayor Jordan Hess — who was selected last September to lead the city following the death of long-time mayor John Engen — polled in third. Also on the ballot were Missoula businessman Shawn Knopp and Brandi Atanasoff.
The results are unofficial at this point with election officials saying they will formalize the data on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, and it's now likely that Davis and Nugent will face off in November.
There were several races for Missoula City Council, but only one ward had a primary on Tuesday. The three Ward 5 candidates were Dave Bell, Bob Campbell and Lynn-Wood Fields. The unofficial count has Campbell leading, followed by Fields and then Bell. The top two meet again in the general election in November.
Despite there only being one or two races on the ballot for voters, the election still required a full staff at the Missoula County Elections Center.
Elections administrator Bradley Seaman tells MTN News that over 20,800 had been counted as of Tuesday evening and voter turnout for this municipal primary was at around 35%. Montana also allows same-day voter registration and Seaman says they registered around 139 people that came into the elections center on Tuesday.
Seaman says that there was a good turnout for this primary election, but it was also a busy day for election officials.
"We saw a great amount of ballots returned. Between all of our drop-off locations, we also send a team to the post office so anything at 8 p.m. that might be stuck in the mail system can be picked up so it can be delivered here and make that deadline. We had cars and traffic right up until 8 o'clock, we like that. We want to encourage people they need to make an informed decision, but we also want to make sure that if you need to drop your ballot off at 7:55, we got a spot here for you to do it.” - Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman
- information from Kathryn Roley included in this report.