What’s the story on the commissioner race?

by Pete Talbot

Odds-on favorite Dennis Daneke lost to political neophyte Michele Landquist in the race for Missoula County Commissioner. Albeit by only 42 votes, but that’s all it takes.

Daneke ran a strong campaign with direct mail, voter ID, fund raisers, phone banks, etc. I didn’t see much out of the Landquist camp.

So, armchair analysis abounds. Some say it was Landquist’s staunch opposition to the proposed gravel pit just north of Lolo. Daneke was lukewarm in his opposition and that cost him votes in that area of the county.

Others say it was all the newly registered voters who came out to vote for Obama but had no idea who the players were in the commissioner race, and casting a vote for Michele Landquist because the name had a nice ring to it.

A few folks said that having Mayor John Engen as treasurer and advisor to the Daneke campaign could have cost some votes. While Engen is popular in many Missoula circles, outside the city limits the last thing the majority of voters want is the progressive (I use that word loosely) politics that they seem to think rule the city of Missoula.

I’m guessing it was a combination of all three of the above scenarios.

Finally, there was a conversation overheard by two Republican voters on election night at an unnamed watering hole. They were saying that they crossed over to the Democratic ballot to vote against Daneke because they felt he would be the strongest candidate to go against incumbent Republican candidate Larry Anderson in the general election.

This last reason (cross over voting) is a little hard to prove. One could go to a strong Republican precinct and see if there were an abnormally high number of Democratic ballots cast but since Republicans stayed away from the polls in droves this primary, it’s hard to tell.

I also have to wonder if Larry Anderson supporters were really that well organized to swing an election. And if so, why not cross over for the other Democratic primary candidate, Jeff Patterson? That way, they’d have a win-win situation going into the November election.

Patterson, the third candidate for the commission in the primary, came in, well, third. Thank God. After reading his guest column in the Missoulian about his distaste for “Smart Growth,” I am eternally grateful.

In Patterson’s column, he quotes often from the Montana Policy Institute – a Libertarian “think tank” out of Bozeman. Funding for the institute comes from big bucks ‘free marketeers,” the far, far right and their ilk.

Now it’s time to learn about Michele Landquist, her isssues and campaign. You’ll definitely be reading more about her here at 4&20.

  1. Dan

    I supported Michele for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons was because she has always been a proponent of historic preservation

  2. goof houlihan

    “Others say it was all the newly registered voters who came out to vote for Obama but had no idea who the players were in the commissioner race, and casting a vote for Michele Landquist because the name had a nice ring to it.”

    An awkward sentence that reflects the awkward sentiment behind it…”and voted for the woman” might’ve been more grammatically and factually accurate. There was a lot of gender and race “identity issues” in the democrat’s primary and that might’ve carried over into the smaller races.

    “ilk”, is that the same sentiment as, “all “those people” (you name the gender, race, creed, religion) are the same?

    “Incentive”, a free market term, works far better than the social engineering of “smart growth”. It’s a smart term for authoritarian government.

    Interesting race, but even more revealing blog entry.

  3. goof houlihan

    I thought Patterson’s guest column was right on the money. The unintended consequences of new urbanist theories are ubiquitous; pushing the cost of housing higher, and forcing development out into the county at a rapid pace.

    I’m in favor of county wide zoning. However, sometimes it seems the only check and balance on runaway new urbanist socialism is the liberty and freedom offered by the unzoned rural areas.

    You have to understand the trade-offs when making policy. One of the trade offs of new urbanism is a much higher cost of housing, and market and consumer resistance to soviet style apartment stacks. That consumer resistance shows itself in lots of rural subdivisions outside of the the new urbanist control.

    Jane Jacobs, the guru of new urbanism, was an anti planning anti planner who talked of organic growth along byways, and densities far in excess of any Montana town. She warned in her famous book that her ideas were not to be applied to smaller cities and towns, yet here we are.

    One thing I noticed was that new urbanists around here used to insist on “a good mix of housing types”. They did so until I noted, factually, that the single family home on a quarter acre, still desireable to the market, had disappeared from the city and could only be found in the county. The city’s newly built housing mix has become 60/40 attached housing. Then the phrase “a good mix of housing types” disappeared from the propaganda. What has resulted is dense, attached housing that increasingly becomes rentals because people want to “move up” to detached houses with yards.

    The “mixed use” New York City in Montana, desired by the New Urbanists, require densities of 20 or 30 units per acre. Contrast that to even the older residential parts of town and you’ll see an increase in density of 300 to 500 percent would be required to achieve that. Go to that nice neighborhood around the unversity, where density should be greater, and ask them to accept a density increase of five hundred percent. Even the most liberal person turns into a nimby real quick when a five story apartment building is proposed in his backyard.

  4. Your observation of the disappearance, from new urbanism, of a “good mix of housing types” is spot on. The failure to provide a mix of housing types it what, IMHO, causes the skyrocketing costs to new homes. The result: no choice, homogenized pricing.

    It’s why I haven’t fallen in love with the PNC idea completely – what it did was push the house sizes up – it didn’t increase the number of homes – and it took the potential of building smaller starter homes more easily out of the mix.

    Missoula has small lots – some lots as tiny as 17 1/2 feet in width – I’ve seen affordable homes built on lots that tiny (yeah, yeah, Jackson Hole, OK? – I have a friend that owns one, and it’s quite nice). If they’d have made the lot bigger, the house would have been more expensive not only because of land but because the instinct would have been to push the size larger.

  5. Ruthlmm

    Perhaps some people couldn’t see voting for a county commissioner candidate who couldn’t spell commissioner. Did others notice Daneke’s campaign materials, yard signs, online banner all stated that he was running for county “commisioner”?

    – Ruthlmm

  6. The whole campaign seemed overwrought. Too busy creating nifty circular logos and inserting soft-focus American flags in the print ad to spell check the posters. Michele Landquist’s website, on the other hand, reflects a much different sensibility.

  7. petetalbot

    I agree with you on one point, Goof; that was an awkward sentence. I was trying too hard to avoid saying “and voted for the woman.” I attributed Michele’s votes to newly registered Obama supporters but imagine she received votes from Clinton supporters, too. Anyway, Daneke didn’t get as many votes from either of those two constituencies.

    On the Smart Growth discussion: whether you are using the terms ‘New Urbanism’ or ‘Smart Growth’ it’s important, to me at least, to mandate a good mix of affordable housing types — whether through inclusionary zoning or other means.

    I certainly wouldn’t leave growth or affordable housing issues up to the folks at the Montana Policy Institute (and their ilk!). You say you are for county-wide zoning. You can be sure they aren’t. Their no regulation/free market ways are one of the reasons we’re in this mess, IMHO.

    There are plans afoot to do dense, (affordable) single-family housing in the Missoula urban core. There are areas (old mill sites, unused rail yards, etc.) where this can be accomplished.

    I also believe that there can be more density in established neighborhoods without “a five-story apartment building” going up in someone’s backyard.

  8. somwhere in the middle

    Well put from one of the leaders of Missoula’s “far, far” left.

  9. goof houlihan

    Pete, you’re just not that good a tap dancer…heh heh. I think that’s a compliment. Just sp sp spit it out!

    Misspelling “commissioner” would be the last straw for me.
    Good grammar and spelling are indicators of the mental discipline needed for working at the dias.

    “Smart growth” is smart marketing for an increase in authoritarian government. Which is why I use the term “new urbanist”, Pete. It sounds less laudable than “smart growth” and it’s just a rhetorical stone’s throw from “new communist”.

    As for what “those people” who think free minds and free markets are a good idea, like me, well, some of us understand the need for rational, health safety and welfare induced planning. Not “robin hood” planning, but “health, safety and welfare”.

    Good job lately bloggers! Where’s Rebecca? Still nursing a post nomination hangover?

  10. Rikki

    I’ve been helping Dennis out on this campaign since January, and have some things to say about this race. I don’t know what happened to voters on this race. I have to shrug and chalk it up to uneducated down ballot folks who picked a name at random. The vote was too close for it to have been anything else. I will say that Missoulians lost out on having a damn good county commissioner because of this. Dennis has been serving this community for years. He is an intelligent, compassionate man who works his day job helping hard working blue collar folks get their pay checks, and the working conditions they deserve. He spends most of his evenings serving this community on various boards and commissions. The man has worked on everything from the Blue-Green coalition, making sure that we can bring jobs to this community while protecting the way of life we all treasure here in Missoula, to the R.A.M.P project ensuring that the disabled have access to their work places and homes. He deserves everyones respect for everything that he has done for this community. Dennis worked his but off over the past six months while running for Commissioner because he knows how important it is to have a strong voice on the county commission, and he could have been that voice. He has spent the last months talking to as many folks as he could on the doors, at neighborhood meetings, and on the phones. He understands the challenges that face this community and is the right person to represent those concerns. He knows what it takes to work hard, and to campaign. Because of this, he could have really given Larry Anderson a run for his money. Instead, we now have a candidate who thinks chatting with folks at campsites is going to win the election in November. Laugh all you want about the fact that Commissioner was misspelled on his lit pieces and yard signs, but Dennis doesn’t deserve that, and neither do the dozens of volunteers who worked so hard to get him elected. I know this has been a bitter pill for his supporters to swallow, especially knowing how great he would have been as the next Missoula County Commissioner.

  11. I have to shrug and chalk it up to uneducated down ballot folks who picked a name at random.

    Boy, that’s nice – saying that most of the people who voted for Michele were “uneducated”. If that’s what he and his supporters think of the majority of the primary voting Democrats in Missoula, it’s no wonder he lost.

    Talk about “bitter” —-

    I’ve struggled to understand the dichotomy of local races v. the larger statewide and national races. Voters have a dislike, in the larger races, for those with connections and polished political backgrounds, but in the local races, they champion those with the most and closest of those very same things they abhor up ballot.

    Never could figure that out.

    Maybe that’s why people voted for Michele – maybe they were looking for something different, and maybe – just maybe – they weren’t just simply “uneducated”.

  12. goof houlihan

    Tell ya what, Rikki had some good points. Tell me, would you hire an unqualified non engineer to design a bridge because you “wanted something different”? Would you hire ballet dancers instead of carpenters to frame a house because you “wanted something different”?

    I agree there’s a lot of anti professional populism going around both parties. But it’s not going to result in better government.

  13. Here’s a novel concept instead of all this speculative chatter about a person behind their back why not go directly to the source. I put my phone number and email address on my web site: electlandquist.com so why not contact me directly like so many other people have done before and after the primary. I am not part of any special political machine. I have no hidden agedna. I have been and active volunteer and advocate for numerous local causes for many years in Missoula County.

    Holding fire-side discussions at local campgrounds (as a means of conserving on fossil fuel) is only one idea for reaching out to people in the rural parts of the county (which is an idea that seems to be well received by folks who have already contacted me).

    Some of you bloggers seem to be assuming that I did not knock on doors, or do mailings, phone calls, or attend meetings etc….Well, you know what happens when you “ASSUME.” I did do my fair share of doors, mailings, phone calls and meetings. I did not raise as much money as Dennis did nor did I have the alliences that he did, and that’s just fine. We are all entitled to have our own style and strategies- I chose more of a grass roots approarch. I am empathetic to the financial woes many people are experiencing during this recession and there are many other worthy causes that are dependent on donations. When I was campaigning I told people their vote was important to me. I asked people to carefully study all of the candidates who were running because we would be living with the outcome for six years. Furthermore, I told them if they liked my message I would appreciate it if they would share it with five of their friends. In the end it was the number of votes that won not the amount of money raised for advertising and mass mailing. I made sure everyone knew they could contact me to discuss any issue on their mind and lots of people did just that. On my web site I have made an honest effort to put myself out there so everyone would know me as a person, and about various issues and challenges Missoula is facing,and where I stand on them. So, it might be possible people voted for me becasue they recognized the unique, non-political, honest message and effort I put into my campaign.

  14. Not me, Michele.

    I voted for ya.

    You have a great website. I liked your grassroots approach.

    I also saw your comments (on MCAT) at the Lolo emergency zoning hear. You stood up for your neighborhood and took a clear stand on the issue. Way to go. That’s the type of person I want as my county commissioner. One not afraid to take a position and stand firmly on it.


  15. petetalbot

    Thanks for weighing in Michele and please feel free to do so again, especially as we get closer to the general election.

    I extend this offer to Larry Anderson, too. The more informed we are about the campaigns and issues surrounding the county commissioner race, the better decisions we’ll make when we go to the polls.

    As far as the “behind their back” charge, Michele, I plead innocent. If I wanted to speculate on your win behind your back, I wouldn’t be posting on a website read by millions (well, hundreds).

    And speculation is all it was. I didn’t contact Dennis or Jeff about the election outcome, either.

    I did, however, point people to your website in an earlier post

    Anyway, congratulations and stay in touch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,675,945 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,737 other followers

  • June 2008
    S M T W T F S
  • Categories

%d bloggers like this: