Vote for Denver Henderson

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.


  1. Excellent post, Jay. I live in Ward Four, and thanks to the new mail-in ballots, returned my ballot with the bubble next to Denver’s name firmly marked weeks ago.

    Jerry Ballas’ lawsuit against his neighbors should be reason enough to remove him from City Council. Not because he does or does not have the right to file a lawsuit as a private citizen, but because such action goes right to the heart of the problem on the council: the inability of some folks to work as part of a team and to find common ground on various issues. The same person who can sue his neighbors without warning is the same person who can and does block needed city projects.

  2. Ed Childers

    Hi there.
    There are plenty of reasons to vote for Denver.
    There are plenty of reasons not to vote for Jerry.
    But Jim Lee Farnsworth’s letter to the editor? Gimme a break.
    “Center of every conflict?” Maybe. How about:
    The Rattlesnake got sewered against the will of a majority of Rattlesnakers. Jerry helped make that possible. I think that’s a good thing. That angered Regressives throughout the city.
    Splash and Currents and the spray decks are there in large part because of Jerry, who helped us forge ahead despite godawful cost overruns. I think that’s a good thing. That angered Regressives throughout the city.
    Jerry’s also got in the way of stuff that I wanted to get done. I think he’s way short of perfect; he thinks the same about me.
    But Jerry seems to have made as many enemies on the right as he has on the left. Farnsworth is proof positive of that.
    Plenty of reasons to vote for Denver. Farnsworth isn’t one of them.

  3. “Regressives”. I love it. Do you have that trademarked yet, Ed?

  4. Jerry pushed Splash and Currents based on his own private agenda (demons). Sorry to say that, but that is certainly true on that one. Without that, he’da been there squallin’ away for the sake of squallin’ away.

    That may sound harsh – but he brought that up himself in Council, otherwise I’da never known.

    And “Regressives” is way nicer than my “Rethuglicans” term.

  5. edchilders

    No trademark or copyright on Regressives. It seems like it fits. And of course, as my dear departed mother would say, one should always try to be nice. Or at least charitable.

  6. To steal from Alice Roosevelt, if you don’t have something nice to say, come post on our site.

  7. It’s one thing to vote for something because it’s the right thing to do – it’s another thing to vote for it because of your own personal agenda.

    Don’t you think? Especially when you are championing his participation in it? Without that event, would he have voted for it?

    It is those votes that are purely personal agendas that create such problems on Council – the W. Broadway discussion is one perfect example. Those clustering that issue up are championing the cause of what amounts to maybe 10 people at the expense of everyone else.

  8. Jay – I’m sure your readers know to read a little deeper when you start cating labels.

    I am a person who wants to see the Missoula City Council move out of ten years of inaction and infighting. I want to see a council pull together to address growth issues that are changing the character of our town. The council we have now focuses on chickens, the Iraq War and the pledge. I think they should be working on a long-range infrastructure, zoning, and transportation plan for the next twenty years. This is what most mainstream Missoulians want.

    Unfortunately your man Denver is already lined up with the super-partisans that are causing problems on one side of the isle. You are correct that I am not supporting Ballas, who is causing problems on the other side.

    I’d hardly say a paleo-rightie is someone who would endorse and support two Democrats and an Independent; especially over a Republican.

    It is because I am in the middle, Jay, and I want something better.

    Lyn Hellegaard is there too. She has an expertise in transportation issues that are forward thinking and that would be a huge asset to any government body.

    Denver, well he is the head of Forward Montana, a partisan political organization.

    Now who is left or right of center here?

  9. Ed Childers

    I’m having some difficulty with this discussion, and here’s why: I’m currently the President of the City Council. Part of my job is to try to get things done. I can’t get things done if I badmouth the people I work with.
    I hope Denver gets through the primary. I hope I get through the primary. There’s no sure things, and there’s always tomorrow.
    I will say this: consider Farnsworth’s premise: “… 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.” Then try to remember who’s said what at Council and committee meetings. Then look at the responses to the Missoulian’s questionnaire from the candidates in Ward 4, see what their issues are, see who they look to as role models.
    Finally, whether “it’s one thing to vote for something because it’s the right thing to do – it’s another thing to vote for it because of your own personal agenda,” it turns out that when the votes get counted you get a result that’s acceptable or you don’t, and you try to move to the next thing that needs to be done.
    Finally finally, for Scoop’s benefit, long-range infrastructure, zoning, and transportation planning is happening all the time. Planning is relatively easy. Implementation is expensive and somebody usually doesn’t like it. Those somebodies sometimes run for City Council. :)

  10. Ed is a wise man – and he shows it. That’s why he is getting my vote.

    Ballas isn’t always the instigator – there’s plenty of that activity by at least two or three others, and for the sake of saying so I’ll mention John Hendrickson and Jon Wilkins. Both of those guys can cluster up a council meeting as the best of them.

    Ed would also be right about trying “to move to the next thing that needs to be done.” I do tend to hold grudges – or at the very least have a memory like an elephant. Sometimes that can be good, but when it comes to doing the job that Ed is doing and has done so well, well, holding a grudge would be a bad thing.

    Especially with people like Ballas, Hendrickson and Wilkins on Council. ;-)

  11. Scoop, please get your facts right. I understand this stuff is difficult, but Forward Montana is a non-partisan organization and Denver is not the head of it. In fact, he is neither on staff, nor on our board of directors. As much as anyone can be blamed for being in charge, it is probably me.

  12. noodly appendage

    Based on this discussion, I’m gonna send Jerry a contribution.

  1. 1 The Silver Lining « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Vote for Denver Henderson […]




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