by William Skink
If you had told me nine years ago when I started blogging that I would be writing a post congratulating a bench of conservative city council candidates for flipping two of the six open council seats in 2019 I’d have responded that you were nuts.
Yet, here we are.
These candidates were not just running against the firm grip of Engen’s Team Gentrify, they were also running against the local media in Missoula. You can see this in the Missoula Current’s framing of Missoula’s political opposition movement as “well-funded”:
One of the more charged municipal races in recent memory came to a suspenseful close on Tuesday night, with two conservative candidates scoring a win in a well-funded and coordinated push to change the balance of the Missoula City Council.
Despite everything aligned against these candidates, Sandra Vasecka took Ward 6 and John Cantos took Ward 5.
I’m happy with these results because it’s a message to Engen and Team Gentrify that they do not have an iron clad mandate to continue enriching developers with public TIF money. And it’s a message to the alleged solution-oriented status quo that their only solution of a sales tax–whoops, I mean “tourist tax”–is actually NOT the only solution.
I have an idea, how about we dissolve the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and put millions and millions of public dollars back into the general fund? Maybe ideas like these can get some traction now that Jesse Ramos is not the lone dissenting voice, treated by local media as a high school melodrama instead of the absence of political diversity it was.
At the end of the Missoula Current article the bias is pretty clear with who the piece quotes and what she says:
Several candidates also noted a change in tone this year. A political action committee was formed to support this year’s crop of conservative candidates, which included mailers that many suggested were misleading.
Ramos also formed “Team Liberty” and took the lead in promoting his candidates, playing the role of kingmaker. The returns suggest his efforts worked.
“This was different than four years ago,” said West, noting the change in this year’s races. “The rhetoric was really charged. The money spent on this election has been unprecedented. It does the voting public a disservice.”
Jesus Christ, people, this is fucking politics. Maybe the rhetoric is getting charged because people are feeling more and more financially insecure, and therefore more pissed off when they hear about an out-of-state developer getting 16.5 million to consolidate his hold on Missoula’s music scene. And they are getting more pissed off when they are told things like homelessness in Missoula is improving.
I will once again point out–since local media will be loathed to acknowledge this–that the frustration in Missoula IS NOT JUST FROM CONSERVATIVES. There is also increasing frustration from people who identify to the left of neoliberal capitalists. And guess what, Team Gentrify, some of these people from the left and right are starting to talk to each other and discover more common ground exists than ideological opposition.
So, congratulations to Team Liberty for getting out there and bringing some much needed diversity to Missoula’s City Council. Your victory sends an important message to the Engen regime.