A Realtor Ran Through It

by Rebecca Schmitz

I overhead someone say at a party last night, “A Realtor is just a developer without enough money yet.” I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t. It’s pretty accurate. Comments like it remind me of the billboard on Interstate 90 near Clinton advertising the “Ridge Above Rock Creek” subdivision offered by local Realtor Katie Ward. (Warning: possible high levels of Norman Maclean overexposure on that link. Consult a bottle of antacids before viewing.) I’m used to seeing ads for various developments in urban areas–you know, like along I-15 through the Salt Lake Valley. Every five miles there’s a sign for “Fox Pointe Estates” or “Aspen Grove Heights” featuring a young, white, presumably Mormon family happily playing in the yard of their five bedroom home. The first time I saw Katie’s sign it was jarring because I’m not used to seeing those billboards here. I guess it’s literally a sign of the times: subdivision outdoor advertising is firmly entrenched in Montana.

So it was an interesting coincidence that I was still thinking about that comment when I opened the Missoulian this morning because Keila Szpaller reports (in an article not available online) that the Missoula Organization of Realtors is backing the following candidates:

Ward 1: Justin Armintrout
Ward 3: Doug Harrison
Ward 4: Lyn Hellegaard
Ward 6: Ed Childers

In fact, on Justin Armintrout’s website the MOR is listed as his first and perhaps most important supporter. Presumably the group is unhappy with the answers provided by both candidates in Wards 2 and 5 because there’s no official endorsement in either race. Depending on your feelings about Realtors and the complex issues surrounding growth and development, you can consider the opinion of the Missoula Organization of Realtors when it comes time to complete your voting ballot for this year’s City Council races.

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  1. ayn rand

    You aren’t really saying to vote for Lewie Schneller and not for Ed ” give me a raise” Childers??

  2. You know, Ayn, I like Ed. If I lived in Ward 6 I’d vote for Ed. That’s why it pains me to know he’s endorsed by these guys. I can only assume the MOR didn’t endorse Lewie because of his “just say no” zero tolerance policy on everything before City Council. It’s not realistic.

  3. Rebecca, you get a +2 for seamlessly working a reference to Norman Maclean into a serious blog post. Well done. Next assignment: Gordon Lightfoot for 3 points with a 1 point bonus for any reference to Bob Ross (Note: a term like ‘happy little tree’ will get you 1/2 point).

    Well done.

  4. As soon as I hear about a snowmobile going through the ice up on Seeley Lake this winter, you can bet I’ll mention Bob’s interpretation in oil of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

  5. TZ

    Well, this sure sounds like a Republican to me (taken from Justin’s website):

    “It’s simple math. The increased fees the government levies on development are passed down to the home buyer. This increases the price of housing. The answer is not more fees (impact fees, etc.) but instead, better stewardship of the taxes the city is already collecting to pay for basic city services. Fiscal responsibility and accountability have been ignored as the fees for development skyrocket. Instead, the city needs to utilize its revenue (which growth & development help to increase) to more judiciously pay for basic city expenses.”

  6. I have to agree TZ. If everything were that simple, hell, we could just put 6th graders up there and let them run the city.

    That being said, neither the city nor the county is running a squeaky-frugal budget – and we could certainly use some fiscal conservatism – both locally and federally, for that matter.

    It sounds to me that Justin is naive enough to think that development pays for itself by nature of its tax generation.

    If Armitrout is sophisticated enough to articulate that kind of sophomoric political savvy in print, lord knows what kind of political wisdom he has in store if he’s elected.

  7. Well, the good news jhwygirl is that I’M NOT A POLITICIAN (yet)… and YES, maybe we’d be better off with 6 graders running the city…At least we’d get some honest answers! I’m just your average guy trying to make a difference in a town I love. Forgive me for my sophomoric naivety.

    On a seperate note: Anyone catch the Indy article? Apparently I upset Matt Gibson by calling him out. Silly me, I thought a paper that calls itself the “Independent” would follow basic journalistic principles. What would have been wrong with simply abstaining from endorsing in Ward 1? Besides the obvious conflict of interest in endorsing a candidate who continues to work for you, isn’t there supposed to be a separation between the publisher of a newspaper and its editor????

    OH.. and I’m still not a Republican, although my experience with the Missoula County Democrats may be pushing me in that direction! :-) I have to remind myself not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  8. I’ll forgive you naivety, but I will point out that you became a politician the minute you walked into the courthouse and registered to run for alderman in Ward 1.

    All persons running for office, I believe, share a certain amount of it (naivety) – it’s an unknown ‘thing’, representing a whole group of voters with your own voice. Lots to understand – and there’s always an anti-statistic to the one that you (or anyone) wants to use.

    How to do it? Where do your own ideals end and the betterment of the community as a whole begin?

    Neither paper here has a separation between the publisher and the editor. It’s one of the shames of Missoula, my friend.

    I’m not a member of the Missoula County Democrats, BTW – I’m a Democrat, certainly, but my formal affiliation goes no farther than my voter’s registration.

  9. Actually, jhwygirl, voters don’t register for one political party or the other in Montana. That’s one of the many great things about living here: you can jump back and forth each primary season if you feel strongly about one party’s candidate.

    Thanks for commenting, Justin! I’d hate to lose you to the Missoula County Republicans. Blech. Whatever happens in the general election, please continue to take an active interest in Missoula politics.




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