[MissoulaGov] LGSC

srye at montana.com srye at montana.com
Tue Oct 31 13:33:51 MST 2006

I just returned from visiting family during an extended stay in
Morgantown, West Virginia. The elections and initiatives there are just
as passionately debated as Missoula's. The Morgantown newspaper is
carrying the paid advertising of candidates and there is much more paid
advertising by candidates earlier in the election season rather than the
last week or so. Practically no candidates advertise their party
affiliation for reasons unbeknownst to me. I found it frustrating when
the text of the ad was generic in nature and there was no indication of
party affilitation. It was difficult to find out almost anything of
substance about the candidates with generic text and no party

Along with Dave Strohmaier, I remember knocking on hundreds of doors and
the people that seemed most inclined to vote in a local, municipal
election wanted to know what my party affilitation was and it was usually
the first question asked.

Heidi Kendall wrote a poem that she read on the council floor a month or
so ago. In it she mentioned that smaller groups work better. I would
agree with this assessment. I don't think this boils down to just Ward 2.
There are other reasons that I will support a smaller council. Having
one representative for 7200 citizens is more representation than one
representative per 10,000 citizens. Bob and I both represent 10,000
people but we don't split them and he does 5,000 and I do 5,000. The
Legislature certainly doesn't have two Representatives per district.

I can recall times in committees discussing an issue and all 12 of us
having lots of different questions and running out of time to get to all
12 of us. Yes, we have email and we have the council floor, but having 9
council people instead of 12 could perhaps give the council more time to
discuss one particular aspect more thoroughly rather than not having time
to get into the depth of one aspect. In this case, it would seem that a
smaler group would work better.

Thanks to Bob for having this forum,

> Here is a letter to the editor I sent out yesterday.



> Return to Partisan Elections:

> Our local political parties serve a vital role in creating excitement and

> participation in our local elections. By eliminating partisan elections we

> have effectively emasculated those organizations and weakened their role

> in the democratic process. The effect has been a decline in participation.

> Some say that fixing potholes and sidewalks have nothing to do with

> political affiliation. City Council decisions also cover land use,

> taxation, distribution of public resources, and many other issues where

> an individual's perspective on the role of government and social

> priorities are significant. This is the very stuff that political parties

> help define. Please vote for the return to partisan elections.


> Nine Wards:

> The decision over nine wards ultimately comes down to how you feel about

> Ward 2. Missoula's growth has primarily been on the northwest side of

> town. These new neighborhoods have been annexed into Ward 2. Grant Creek

> and the neighborhoods to the west have distinctly different needs and

> interests than the older Northside and Westside neighborhoods. With nine

> wards those areas will be able to vote for their own representative. With

> six wards we will most likely split the Northside and Westside, connecting

> one to the Rattlesnake and one to the Grant Creek and Mullan road areas.

> One of these central historic neighborhoods will forever be relegated to

> being a numerical minority to the often competing interests of the new

> neighborhoods to the west. This same principal applies to the rest of the

> city as well. As populations shift and we redraw ward boundaries, nine

> wards will give us more opportunity to keep the wards representing

> neighborhoods of somewhat similar needs. If you believe wards should

> represent neighborhoods and areas of common interest please vote for nine

> wards.


> Bob Jaffe

> Missoula City Council Representative Ward 3


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