Uncommon Ground

Go Local

Local elections matter

By Mike Jopek

The piping calls emanated from the chokecherries as the pileated woodpecker feasted on the semi-ripe tasting berries. It’s September and fall is thick in the air. The cool crisp mornings are sweetening plums and gearing locals toward fall activities.

It’s the heaviest time of the year on the farm. The onions, potatoes and winter squash are all eager to be harvested from the fields. Won’t be long until the ladder-work of picking apples and pears begins. 

It’s the time of year when long pants return, socks get thicker and the promise of snow is closer to reality. For many locals, fall is the best season. I’ll take them all and for very different reasons.

Fall resonates as the time of year when Flathead locals decide who leads our cities over the upcoming years. It’s ever more apparent that we need leaders willing to work hard to help locals keep our towns great places to live, work and prosper. 

In Whitefish, Andy Feury is a person you can trust. Feury has proven his leadership to community over time. He’s smart, compassionate and works hard to help the community succeed.

Also of Whitefish, Ben Davis continues to advocate that housing should be affordable to workers. He speaks of the visitation economy not catering well to certain local needs and how the kind of development coming into town isn’t necessarily the type of development our community needs. 

Davis points out how short-term rentals often impede the long-term housing needs of local workers and the city should establish mechanisms to help guide the immediate future as housing remains critical to employees, families, and businesses.

In Whitefish there are nine candidates with wildly diverging views on community but voters can trust that councilors Feury and Davis will continue to work hard and do right by locals.

On Whitefish’s ballot, arriving by mail next month, is another reauthorization of the popular Resort Tax. This tourist tax has provided millions of dollars in local property tax relief and kept our streets in good repair while protecting the municipal water supply in Haskill Basin with permanent open space and public trails.

The last vote on the Resort Tax passed with the support of a whopping 84% of voters. It’s no surprise that the margins were so huge as the city has done a very good job of managing local tax dollars over the years.

In Kalispell, local campaigns are heating up as a slate of good candidates are seeking to vitalize the economy and community.

Gabe Dillon is the Ward 2 candidate on the northwest side of Kalispell. Dillon is the program coordinator for Foys to Blacktail Trails. On his website, Dillon says “I will make a commitment to continued improvement of the things that make Kalispell a great place to live: safe streets for our children, abundant open spaces, and quality of services for those in need.”

Jessica Dahlman, a Ward 3 candidate from downtown Kalispell is a registered nurse at Logan Health. Dahlman says that “our community is facing unprecedented challenges. Extreme growth combined with housing speculation has led to an immense real estate boom, threatening access to housing across the state and especially for Kalispell residents.”

Angela Kennedy a Ward 4 candidate from south Kalispell is mom to two kids and works as a project manager and business analyst. Kennedy writes that, “You can rest assured that I will work tirelessly each day to contribute my part to the greater good and positive growth of Kalispell.”

Local elections matter. The blowhards of Helena and D.C. will drone on and on with divisive language and harsh policies. Locally you can elect real leaders that work hard and care about practical things like community, jobs, housing, and the safety of kids.  

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