In a Missoula City Council race posed by some as a referendum on the city’s political status quo, leaders on both sides claimed victory one day after the election. One of the six races is still unsettled, and it’s equally unclear exactly how the newly elected members will seek to sway the council’s work.
While only two of the six blue seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s City Council election appeared set to turn red, a third race was close — and depending on whom you ask — signals the beginning of an incremental change to the consistently liberal council.
Outcry over rising property taxes has drawn more and more attention in Missoula elections and was the focus for this year’s race. Councilor Jesse Ramos, who won his seat as the lone fiscal conservative on the council in 2017, worked to form a team of candidates this time to run largely on the property tax issue in each ward.
Mayor John Engen, whose tenure Ramos specifically targeted as the subject of the election’s “referendum,” said he saw the night as a win for his policies despite losing two liberal seats.