Archive for October 7th, 2007

by Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday my mailbox contained a bill (What else is new?) and a Lyn Hellegaard campaign flier. Just for those who live outside Missoula, Lyn is running for City Council in Ward Four against the incumbent, Councilman Jerry Ballas. According to this flier, Lyn is touting herself as “Your voice in City Government”. I assume there are some basic differences between her and Ballas when it comes to current and future city policy, but at first glance I can’t really tell what those differences are on this rectangular piece of paper. Here’s Lyn on zoning:

I will vote against any changes to the zoning ordinances that could denigrate the integrity of our neighborhoods or affect property values.

Well, that’s Jerry’s position too. After all, he’s the guy who sued his next-door neighbors over their infill project: a nice single-family home in a comfortable middle-class neighborhood. Looks like if you live in Ward Four, and are against infill it’s a win-win situation for you as a voter. But wait a minute. Hellegaard takes a swipe at Ballas further down the page under the heading “Spending Priorities”:

Why can we find several million in the budget for swimming pools, but are contemplating the creation of special taxing districts to build neighborhood sidewalks and maintain city streets and parks?

That’s a reference to Jerry’s support of Missoula’s aquatics project, the cost of which has been growing steadily thanks to the controversy over public versus private funding of the construction of the the 50-meter outdoor competitive pool. However, in an earlier interview in the Missoulian, Lyn admitted she might not be able to continue her conservative approach to Missoula’s “spending priorities”:

She wasn’t above admitting she could be wrong on the state of the city’s finances. “Maybe when I get in there, I’ll find out there’s absolutely no other way,” she said.

Oh well. It was a good attempt at distinguishing herself from the incumbent.

Finally, there’s this statement on Lyn’s flier next to “Business Support”:

Members of the Missoula business community see our City Government as an adversary. I want an attitude of aggressive support for business as part of the make-up of City Hall.

I think everyone can agree that Missoula needs good paying jobs and businesses that contribute to our economy. However, I have to wonder what “aggressive support” entails. No development impact fees? Fine, that’s what a lot of candidates are saying. Nothing new there. What about welcoming a polluting industry? How about tax breaks for businesses considering opening facilities here? Encouraging subdivisions and sprawl? Or maybe Lyn’s got something grander in mind. A vision for the city along the lines of Destination Montana, perhaps. Remember the billion-dollar gambling resort that was supposed to bring fame and fortune to Butte? That was pretty “aggressive”. Or it may just be that “aggressive” is politico-speak for “I’m very different from my opponent.” That would be fine except Jerry Ballas isn’t exactly known as some wild-eyed liberal hell-bent on taxing industry out of existence.

It seems that Ward Four has a choice this November. It’s between the same and more of the same.

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