We Are United in Our Support of John Engen for Mayor of Missoula
I wrote this op-ed in support of John Engen for Mayor on behalf of the following Democratic legislators: Senator Bryce Bennett, Senator Ellie Boldman, Senator Shane Morigeau, Senator Shannon O’Brien, Senator Diane Sands, Rep. Willis Curdy, Rep. Tom France, Rep. Connie Keogh, Rep Marilyn Marler, Rep. Andrea Olson, Rep. Katie Sullivan, Rep. Mark Thane
As your Missoula Democratic legislators, we want you to know we are united in our support for the re-election of Mayor John Engen. We support John for mayor and we hope you do to.
John is a tested, effective and progressive leader for Missoula. He is a leader we know and trust. He has helped build one of the best communities in Montana and the region, making Missoula a community that gets national accolades for how it is run.
Throughout the 2021 Montana legislative session, we heard Governor Greg Gianforte claim that his policies would bring back Montana’s economy. Throughout the session, we said the Governor should come to Missoula if he wanted to see an economy that was thriving, where our local governments and private enterprise were working together to provide jobs and opportunities and where new businesses were eager to locate. Throughout his terms as Mayor, John has been at the center of partnerships that have built our economy and our community.
John would be the first to acknowledge the importance of working collaboratively with businesses, other levels of government, non-profits and all of the many interests that make up Missoula’s diverse and energetic community. John’s leadership has strengthened all of these alliances and has helped develop a unified vision that is moving Missoula forward.
Over John’s tenure as Mayor, Missoula has revitalized its downtown and other areas of the city to attract new business and provide a great place to work. The city’s partnership with Missoula County has never been stronger, and coordination over planning and services is efficient and effective. When Missoula citizens came forward with ideas for a great regional park and our fantastic new library, John helped them realize their visions. In turn, these initiatives have only made Missoula more attractive to new business seeking a place to locate.
While Republicans speak loudly about building back Montana’s economy, they are deeply afraid of the prosperity and growth that Missoula – and Bozeman – are experiencing. Rather than strengthening the communities that are driving Montana’s economy, Republican legislators have passed, and Governor Gianforte has signed, bills that weaken local government and strip it of needed tools for managing growth.
One of the critical challenges facing Missoula is the lack affordable housing. With our growing economy and population, Missoula has become a victim of our own success. The City of Missoula, under John’s leadership is meeting this challenge, and Missoula is in the forefront of Montana cities in addressing this complicated issue. Missoula has the first Housing Trust Fund in Montana, Missoula has built new housing for veterans and in the next few years many affordable housing units – the result of a public-private partnership – will come on line.
One of the few significant bi-partisan bills to pass the Legislature was an expansion of the affordable housing loan fund underwritten by Montana coal tax trust account. Unfortunately, and with a total lack of awareness as to one of the real roadblocks facing Montana’s economy, Governor Gianforte vetoed this important bill and Republican legislators fell into line to sustain the veto over a unanimous vote of Democratic legislators to overturn it.
In many other ways, Mayor Engen has been the right leader for Missoula. From turning Missoula’s water supply into a public asset to protecting our environment to honoring the dignity and rights of all of our citizens, John has brought creative energy and great skill to the Mayor’s office. As a growing city, Missoula faces many challenges that couldn’t be imagined just a few years ago. We are confident that in Mayor Engen we have the right leader to meet these challenges in ways that build and strengthen our wonderful community.