HELENA — Voters in Montana’s capital city have elected a Liberian refugee as their next mayor.
Wilmot Collins ousted four-term Helena Mayor Jim Smith 51 percent to 48 percent Tuesday in the mail-in election for the non-partisan post.
Collins campaigned for more affordable housing, addressing homelessness among military veterans and teens and for increasing staffing for the police and fire departments.
Collins is a state child protection specialist and an adjunct instructor at Helena College — University of Montana. He is also a member of the U.S. Naval Reserves. He fled the civil war in Liberia in the early 1990s.
The Montana Historical Society says Collins is believed to be the first black mayor of Helena in since 1874, when Edward W. Johnson — a barber from Washington, D.C. — became unincorporated Helena’s first mayor.