Incumbent Mayor Mark Johnson fended off a challenge from City Councilor Sid Daoud in the first contested Kalispell mayoral race in more than a decade.
Johnson, the senior vice president of investments at Stifel in Kalispell, first ran for mayor unopposed in 2013 seeking to attract better jobs and create a more diverse business environment. He was well ahead of Daoud, according to preliminary results from Tuesday’s municipal election, by 3,036-1,158.
Daoud shared similar views on several economic issues with Johnson, but he believed local residents deserved a choice after Johnson hadn’t faced an opponent during his first two terms in office.
Elsewhere, in Ward 2, incumbent City Councilor Chad Graham defeated challenger Gabe Dillon. He was up by 870-545 votes in preliminary results. Graham touted his experience as council president and on the planning board. He advocated lifting restrictions on developers so they can build more affordable housing. Dillon argued for more “responsible development” and disagreed with the council’s decision to lower impact fees for developers while raising water and sewer rates for property owners.
In Ward 3, newcomer Jessica Dahlman held a narrow lead over Rod Kuntz by 451-443 votes. Kuntz previously served on the council for five-and-a-half years before being unseated in 2019. Dahlman said the city needed to be more strategic about development by mitigating urban sprawl. She also advocated collaborating with outside partners to add more childcare options. Kuntz emphasized his experience, which he said was especially important during the current economic climate.
Two newcomers faced off in Ward 4 and Jed Fisher, who works for the Flathead County Parks and Recreation Department, beat Angela Kennedy. Fisher was up by 449-324 votes in preliminary results. Fisher believes financial barriers, like city fees, should be minimal for developers to ensure those costs aren’t passed down to buyers. Kennedy advocated mitigating sprawl and working with developers interested in building low-income housing.
Sandy Carlson, who represents Ward 1, was unopposed and reelected. Kalispell City Council races are nonpartisan.
Unofficial results as of 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 2. This story will be updated.
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