MISSOULA — Sixteen years under his belt, with another four ahead.
That’s the story of Missoula’s re-elected mayor John Engen, who’s served the community since he was first elected as mayor in 2006. Engen will enter his fifth term in office after defeating newcomer Jacob Elder.
At an election gathering, Engen said he felt privileged to continue doing the work he loves adding that he’s eager to continue tackling some of Missoula’s most pressing issues.
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"Fundamentally, housing, housing, housing, and that means inventory for the workforce, for families, for people who want to rent, people who want to own, it's housing for people who are unhoused today for a wide variety of reasons. They are living on the street, and that's just not the way we roll in Missoula, Montana," Engen said.
"We have an obligation to fix that, and we have plans and resources to get that done. We're also hoping for continued help from the federal government, and then really doing all the nuts and bolts work of the City of Missoula every day — the things that we take for granted, are absolutely [essential], right?"
"I'm going to make sure that when someone dials 911 they have a professional first responder on the scene, a police officer who is thoroughly trained, a firefighter who is ready to save a life or knock down a fire. We're gonna plow the roads. We're gonna maintain our parks. We're gonna make this an even better place to live for everyone," Engen continued.
Engen, who enters his fifth term as mayor — making him the longest-serving mayor in Missoula’s history — ran on a platform that he’s worked to establish over the past four years.
Among his efforts, he established the city’s first housing office and housing policy, pushed to create the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, tipped up the mobile crisis unit and, perhaps most notably, fought to acquire the city’s drinking water system.
The latter effort continues to play out and Engen expects new challenges to come into the picture, he said Tuesday night.
The city could get a boost from the federal government in its affordable housing efforts if Democrats in Congress unite to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and their social infrastructure bill. But Engen said the nuts and bolts must also get done, regardless of the outcome in Washington, D.C.
“I’m going to make sure that when someone dials 911, they have a professional first responder on the scene, a police officer who is thoroughly trained, a firefighter who is trained to save a life. We’re going to plow the roads, maintain our parks and make this a better place for everyone.”