MISSOULA — We take a look at some of the changes the new year has brought for the city government in Missoula for this edition of Current Events with Martin Kidston of the Missoula Current.
“Of the 12 council members, six were sworn in -- and of those six, four of them are new. That brings new voices to the council. They have diverse political views those four new members, from the Democratic Socialists on the left to the more moderates in the middle and just a few Conservatives remain on the council,” Kidston said. “So, you have the full breadth from left to right, so it will be interesting to see how they work through the challenges.
Some of the first actions the new council took were to unanimously approve a new council president and vice president and a new fire chief – Gordy Hughes.
“It shows confidence in the fire chief and Gwen Jones as the new city council president and Jordan Hess the new city council vice president. They are among the most tenured members of the city council with the turnover,” Kidston explained.
“They're also very experienced in running the most challenging committees and they have good skills of working across with political differences in trying to unify voices and making sure all voices are heard. They both received unanimous votes and all indications are they deserved it, they were a good pick, and they will be strong leaders over the next year.
Three new Missoula Municipal Court judges were also recently sworn in.
“This is the first time in history that three Missoula municipal judges were sworn in at the same time. Missoula only had one municipal judge last year, but state law changed which required more. Now we have three and all three are elected judges, which is also a change,” Kidston said.
“One person noted that it was the first time we've seen six court judges in one room at the same time because it was three municipal court judges and three district judges who came to swear them in. It was quite a show of black robes and black collars.
One question the new year brings to Missoula is what the top goals for the city will be.
"A lot of people agree on the top issues, and if you ask them, they all named housing as one of them, housing across the board, all price points. More specifically affordable housing,” Kidston noted. “They want to boost housing stock, address equity. And apparently climate change. They have had policies in place for a couple years but this year they want to hone down on climate and put some of those policies into action.”