by Pete Talbot

One of the candidates in the Democratic primary for Missoula County Commissioner is having a few public relations problems.

The first strike against Jeff Patterson is his party affiliation — whatever it is. He was one of the Republicans nominated to fill Barbara Evans’ seat when she resigned after serving something like 100 years (he didn’t get the job, Larry Anderson did). Patterson then filed for the commission race as a Democrat. Here’s what he said at the Candidates Gone Wild event hosted by Forward Montana:

“Missoula County is primarily Democratic. The majority of the people I’d represent are Democrats, so it’d be the appropriate party to run for.”

Interesting strategy. Run in the party that has the most voters.

His second strike occurred a few days ago. Patterson was against going after funds for “smart growth” planning in the Bonner and Milltown area. He also said it wasn’t appropriate for the public to comment at a recent Bonner Milltown Community Council meeting.

Again, interesting. We have a county commissioner candidate who doesn’t like public input. Also, in the words of Missoula’s OPG director, Roger Millar, “I mean, who’s in favor of dumb growth?” The Missoulian has the blow-by-blow.

The third strike came yesterday when Patterson’s campaign filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices against Missoula Mayor John Engen. Now Engen, who could be mayor for life if he wanted to be, is also the treasurer for one of Patterson’s primary foes, Dennis Daneke.

The story unfolds thusly: Patterson’s son is a contractor working on a sewer project downtown and festooned the site with political signs for his old man. Now that’s not a big deal but it is against the law. I should know, I got a call from the city when I put some signs up in a city-owned boulevard. It was my first campaign and I didn’t know any better. The city told me, nicely, to take them down. I didn’t file a complaint against the mayor.

Anyway, Engen saw the Patterson signs and asked someone from the city to inform the candidate that they must be removed. In doing so, Patterson’s complaint alleges that Engen “abused his power.” The complaint also alleges that the city employee wasn’t quite so nice in removing the signs from the construction site, but that’s not the point. Filing a complaint against our beloved (by most) mayor, especially if Patterson is the one who violated the law, just doesn’t make much sense.

(I wish I could link you to the Missoulian story but it’s nowhere to be found online.)

There are three county commission candidates in the June 6, primary and I know one well.

Dennis Daneke brings a blue/green background to the table — blue collar, as a labor organizer and green, as a conservation ecologist with a master’s in Wildlife Biology.

I worked on Dennis’ campaign when he ran against Doug Mood for the legislature, so maybe I’m not the most objective voice on the subject. I sure wish he would have won that one, though. And I know he’d be a great addition to the current commission. There are some huge issues coming up in the county (Plum Creek lands come to mind) and an aggressive, unified commission will be needed to tackle them.

I don’t know much about the third candidate, Michele Landquist, but her website makes for interesting reading. Take a look and you be the judge.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary will have a battle against sitting Commissioner Larry Anderson in the general. One thing I know, Jeff Patterson is going to have to improve his stats.

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  1. I read the story, Pete. I can’t believe the city employee, whoever it was, ripped Patterson’s signs in half after tearing them off the company’s equipment. That seems like overkill.

  2. petetalbot

    I can’t believe it either, Rebecca and I hope it’s looked into. Please someone, give me more. I want the whole story.

  3. I rode my bike by those signs on Main for a few days and thought “wtf?” to myself. Good call mayor Engen–on the sign removal and your support of Mr. Daneke.

  4. I saw those signs, and like Lamnidae thought, “wtf?”

    Personally, I think the city should bar that contractor from ever being allowed to bid on public contracts again. He’s a corrupt POS, elsewise he wouldn’t have pulled this.

  5. petetalbot

    I, too, rode my bike past the site and thought ‘wtf?’ but your comment is a little harsh, catnapping. On campaign sign abuse, the rules are a little sketchy and I believe that most everyone should get a second chance. Let’s see how the rest of the Patterson campaign plays out.

  1. 1 Planning for the Future, Smart Growth and….Uhh…Carol Minjares, Candidate for HD 97 & Jeff Patterson, Candidate for Missoula BCC « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Patterson, you might recall, was on the short list of Republicans to replace Barbara Evans and has filed for the current county commission race as a Democrat. He’s also an often hypercritical participant in the Milltown Redevelopment Working […]

  2. 2 Primary election preview « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] we have an important Missoula County Commissioner race with three in the Democratic primary: Dennis Daneke, Jeff Patterson and Michele […]




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