Candidates File for Municipal Elections

A total of 23 residents filed for city government seats in Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls

By Maggie Dresser
Ballot envelopes are stored in boxes at The Flathead County Election Department on Sept. 11, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

As residents in Flathead County’s three incorporated cities – Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls – grapple with growth, a housing shortage and infrastructure upgrades, municipal candidates who are seeking local office are preparing for city elections this November.

Following the June 19 election filing deadline in Flathead County, a total of 23 candidates in all three municipalities hope to lead in local government to decide on issues like zoning, development projects and city ordinances for a four-year term.

City council meetings in all three municipalities have revolved around new housing proposals in the Flathead Valley in recent years, some of which have been controversial. Other issues like rising property taxes, budgets and city transportation plans have also been key topics as the region continues to manage its growing pains.

In Kalispell, the city’s governance is divided into four wards, with two councilors representing each region with a roughly equal population size. Ward 1 is located on the northwest side of the city, Ward 2 on the northeast, Ward 3 to the south, and Ward 4 to the southeast.

Eight candidates have filed for the municipal election in Kalispell to govern each ward, including incumbents Ryan Hunter, Kari Gabriel and Sam Nunnally who hope to retain their seats, and Sid Daoud, who is running unopposed. Four newcomers are vying for three seats, including Kevin Aurich, Lukas Schubert, Wes Walker and Gabriel Dillon.

Municipal Judge Alison Howard is running unopposed. She has been serving as the interim judge since this winter.

In Whitefish, six candidates have filed for three city council seats with incumbents Rebecca Norton, Steven Qunell and Frank Sweeney hoping to be reelected. Three newcomers are vying for seats, including Nathan Dugan, James Ramlow and Nancy Schuber.

Mayor John Muhlfeld has also filed for reelection. He is running unopposed.

Municipal Judge Caitlin Overland has filed for reelection. She is running unopposed.

In Columbia Falls, four candidates have filed for the election, including incumbents Darin Fisher, Kelly Hamilton and John Piper. Newcomer Kathyrn Price is vying for a seat.

In order for a candidate to file for local office, they have to be a resident for a minimum of 60 days leading up to the election date and they must be registered to vote in Flathead County.

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