Archive for September 7th, 2007

by Jay Stevens

All you need to know about Ward 4’s incumbent council member, Jerry Ballas, is summarized in a letter written by Missoula Republican, Jim Lee Farnsworth, to the Missoulian:

… at the center of conflict there’s always an instigator. And at the center of every major conflict plaguing the council sits one man: Jerry Ballas. Although I’m a Republican, I can’t ignore what the council’s history shows us. Ballas drags the city into lawsuits against his neighbors, ties up meetings with arbitrary objections and heel-dragging, and has said publicly on numerous occasions he would rather the public stay at home and let the council do its work.

Republicans have gotten a bad name for being divisive, and we don’t need Ballas fanning the flames of this perception. Public input is healthy for the council. Debate and discussion are good for democracy. Yet it’s too easy to sabotage this process by excluding the public and fueling conflict to keep progress at bay. It’s important that the folks in Ward 4 vote for someone other than Jerry Ballas. Regardless of party affiliation, we need a team player – someone who brings people together instead of dividing them apart.

(I added the links to stories related to Farnsworth’s claims.)

Even paleo-rightie, Scoop, couldn’t bring himself to endorse Ballas, and opted instead for Lyn Hellegaard. (So if you’re of a hard-right mentality, I’d go with Scoop’s recommendation.)

My man is Denver Henderson. I endorse him without hesitation.

You could read his Q&A with the Missoulian, but because those things don’t really say much about the candidates’ actual positions, I thought I’d post some of Henderson’s positions on growth and development he gave to the Missoula Democrats.

On inclusionary zoning:

Unfortunately despite broad consensus from the community, city council has done very little to address the housing crisis in Missoula . They had an excellent opportunity to identify policies, like inclusionary zoning, that can be used to encourage developers to build with middle class residents in mind. However the only thing they were able to agree on, is that it is a problem. In spring of 2006 I worked with students, both conservative and liberal, to pass a resolution from student government encouraging city council to support inclusionary zoning. We need the same leadership that will work with both sides of the aisle in order to move forward on this issue, and that in essence is why I am running.

On impact fees:

I prefer impact fees and the creation of specialty improvement districts (SID) rather than raising property taxes to pay for city improvements. Convincing the legislature to raise property taxes would be nearly impossible. However, if we are going to continue to provide quality services for Missoula residents we have to find some way to pay for them. Furthermore, it is only fair to ask the individuals deriving the greatest benefit from the project to pay for the bulk of those improvements. I think it is imperative that proposed SIDs have the support of the affected public, prior to their creation. Similarly I will not use my position on council to impeded progress when there is strong public support for a project.

On a most-responsible bidder process for contractors:

There seems to be a sentiment being perpetuated in this country that insists on paying the absolute bottom dollar for a good or service. Unfortunately this race to the bottom has sacrificed the quality of our products and contributed to the stagnation of wages in various sectors across the country. I believe we have an obligation as individuals to support companies that offer livable wages for American workers. I believe we also have an obligation as a city to invest in quality infrastructure by using responsible employers that provide good wages and benefits to local workers, most importantly health coverage.

It’s time that Ward 4 replaces a divisive presence on the council, a man who has impeded that body’s ability to make rational, long-term decisions for the city of Missoula . Ballas seems to consistently favor developers over homeowners and city residents, except when development occurs next to his house, and often works against providing infrastructure for the city. (The latest is his effort to kill the Higgins Hill/Beckwith roundabout, which is intended to calm traffic next to Paxson elementary, the same intersection where 14-year-old Colin Heffernan was killed in a traffic accident. Over 50 percent of all Paxson students walk to school.)

Denver , on the other hand, favors policies that clearly consider the community as a whole: homeowners as well as developers, workers as well as employers. He’s had experience working successfully as a lobbyist for the state’s university students on bipartisan measures in the 2006 state legislature – the most partisan and bitter in recent memory –making it clear he won’t be a force for division on the city council.

Denver ’s also a good friend. He’s no guttersnipe partisan hack – like yrs. trly – but a soft-spoken, idealistic, and thoughtful man who’s genuinely interested in public service.

It’s time for good government, everywhere. You can begin to put this country back together piece by piece, starting in Missoula’s own Ward 4. Vote for Denver Henderson.

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