Zauner Considers Running as Write-In Candidate

By Beacon Staff

Three of the five open council seats are uncontested in the Nov. 5 election, although that could change in the coming days.

Ward 2 councilor Jeff Zauner may re-run as a write-in candidate opposing Chad Graham.

The deadline to be eligible as a write-in candidate is Oct. 4 in both Kalispell and Columbia Falls, and Oct. 10 in Whitefish. A write-in candidate’s name does not appear on an election ballot, but that person is eligible to tally votes from those who inscribe the candidate’s name on the ballot.

Zauner, who was first elected in 2010 and said he stands in stark contrast to Graham on several issues, primarily the city airport and impact fees, did not file for re-election before the June 27 deadline because of a time commitment out of state, he said.

“I was concerned that I was not going to be able to dedicate the time as needed. But that’s all since changed,” Zauner told the Beacon.

A group of residents approached him and encouraged him to reconsider, which he is doing.

Zauner said he supports the federally funded upgrades at the airport, which Graham firmly does not.

Jim Atkinson, the longest tenured member on the council with 25 years, is running against Jason Mueller and Karlene Osorio-Kohr in Ward 2.

Sandy Mundahl Carlson is running in Ward 1 against Joseph Apple, who did not appear at the chamber luncheon. They are vying for Bob Hafferman’s seat after Hafferman decided to retire.

Incumbent Tim Kluesner in Ward 4 is uncontested.

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