The Missoula County Republican Committee has chosen to endorse Independent mayoral candidate Shawn Knopp over two other candidates.

Chair Vondene Kopetski appeared on Wednesday’s Talk Back show along with Knopp to take calls from listeners about his effort to unseat incumbent John Engen.

She explained the committee’s decision.

“I think your listeners know that the Missoula County Democrat Party has endorsed their candidate and that would be the existing administration (of Mayor Engen),” said Kopetski. “And so we thought that it was important for voters to know that the Missoula County Republican Party also has a candidate that we're endorsing in the upcoming mayoral race. It's an unusual situation because the candidate that we're endorsing is a true independent, not a Republican.”

Kopetski explained why they chose Knopp over Jacob Elder and Greg Strandberg.

“We felt given the situation in Missoula County, you know, increased spending and taxes going up,” she said. “So many voters and residents that we talked to are very concerned about what's happening here, as are we, and we just thought that it was important that we took the time to vet the candidates and we found a candidate that we can support in Shawn Knopp.”

Kopetski expanded on the committee’s support of Knopp.

“He is a true independent,” she said.  “He doesn't have any political affiliation. And we want voters to know that they have an alternative in this upcoming election. And the alternative is in lieu of doing the same thing that people have been doing for the last four years, which has increased the budget exponentially. He left us currently with a $214 or $216 million debt in the city of Missoula, and we need a change.”

Kopetski said only Knopp has the wisdom and experience to defeat John Engen.

“As Republicans, we felt that we needed somebody who will actually listen to the voters and somebody who believes in smaller government, who will fight to reduce spending and do something about the ever increasing taxes,” she said. “I know there are other candidates in the race. I'm sure they're nice young men, but they're young and they're inexperienced, and they don't have management experience. And those are the kinds of things as Republicans that we're looking for.”

Click this link to hear the entire conversation.


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