Six New Missoula City Council Members Sworn In By Mayor John Engen [WATCH]
Six new Missoula City Council members took the oath of office Monday afternoon in the council chambers, and will begin their terms at the council meeting at 7 p.m.
Those taking their oaths included Heidi West in Ward One, Harlan Wells in Ward Two, Ward Three's Gwen Jones, John DiBari in Ward Four, Julie Armstrong in Ward Five, and Ward Six's Michelle Cares.
KGVO News spoke with the new council members and asked if there were any special issues they would be pursuing in their first year of office. Ward Two's Harlan Wells said the issue of methamphetamine use in Missoula is at the top of his list.
"I think we still have a chance to get ahead of the meth problem before we become labeled as a meth-using city," Wells said. "I want to keep focused on issues that are not just social in nature, but will actually affect the people who live here. I'm also deeply concerned about the issue of raising taxes, and I want to put a lid on that everywhere I can."
Ward Three's Gwen Jones is concerned with continuing the design review process.
"We've got some momentum on that, so I'd like to see it go forward," Jones said. "There's a huge amount of issues that I have to come to speed on, and even though you have months, there's still a lot to cover."
Ward Four's John DiBari, a seven year member of the Land Board, wants to continue pursuing land-use issues.
"I think I'll take it slow at first, get the lay of the land and how the council works," said DiBari, "I want to develop close working relationships with the rest of my colleagues. Obviously, Mountain Water is an issue that is now before the council, as well as design standards for commercial buildings, so I think I'll continue to work on those."
In Ward Five, Julie Armstrong is also concerned with commercial development.
"Obviously, development in mid-town is a big deal," Armstrong said. "The areas being affected by the mall renovation continue and we've encouraged those developers to work diligently with the Mary Street residents, which seems to be a point if contention this year.I will also be on the public health and safety committee which will be tackling the gun safety ordinance, and that's at the top of my list right now."
In Ward Six, Michelle Cares wants to get settled and learn the rules of the game first.
"I am really passionate about traffic and how it moves in our community," Cares said. "If I were to have a goal for the year, it would be to make improvements in that area. The timing of the traffic lights in the city is very difficult for some people, but I understand it's a city, state and federal issue. That would be a very big goal, and it's something I'm interested in addressing."
After swearing in all six of the new council members, Mayor John Engen said housing for all Missoulians is a top priority, as well as wrapping up the Mountain Water case.
"I'd like to get that done sometime before I pass from this earth," Engen laughed. "I think we'll have it done this year."