Mayor John Engen talks to listeners on KGVO’s Talk Back Show
Mayor John Engen is running for his fifth term as Missoula’s chief executive, and as part of that campaign, he appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show and spent an hour responding to questions from listeners.
He began by stating why he is running for reelection.
“I believe that I brought energy and ideas and relationships and experience to the office that would allow me to serve the community to give back to the place that that has been very kind to me,” said Engen. I love to work with talented people to do exciting things; to meet difficult challenges and I still want to do that work.”
Engen said the problem of transients and homeless persons is not just one that Missoula is struggling with.
“We have made progress in the face of a problem that's growing around the country and I hear pretty regularly in my office that we're the only place with a homeless issue and, the fact is that it's everywhere, and in some places its worse and no one's cracked the case yet.”
Engen said the efforts of ‘Operation Shelter’ haven’t yet come to fruition, and he is limited by the Constitutional rights of those who are transients or homeless as to how to deal with the issue.
“If we don't have some safe and sanctioned place for people to camp, they're going to camp anywhere,” he said. “We have this we have this challenging document that ties us; the United States Constitution that does not allow us to do. Some of the things that I hear are that folks tell me to throw people on a bus or arrest them and throw them in the pokey, etc. So we have to provide some alternatives to camping in parks and on streets and etc. So we're working on that.”
Engen closed by stating his case for reelection.
“There are more people working in Missoula County today than have ever worked in Missoula County,” he said. “There is more residential home building happening today in Missoula than there has been in a very long time and certainly since the Great Recession, which was a large setback which has contributed to the situation we're in today. We are continuing the work that I've always done and that is constant improvement.”
Engen’s opponents in the primary are Jacob Elder, Shawn Knopp and Greg Strandberg.
The September 14 primary will send only two candidates on to the general election in November.