Jordan Hess Chosen As Missoula Mayor After A Dark, Back-Alley 70 Minute “Negotiation”

by Travis Mateer

Before things got really tedious Monday night, our elected City Council members shared a common concern that the process they were about to engage in was weird and undemocratic. Then the nominating began.

Three candidates were initially nominated: Jordan Hess, Mike Nugent and Fred Rice. The process outlined for Councilors seemed straight forward enough, at first. They would vote, and keep voting, until one candidate got 7 votes.

The nomination of Fred Rice by Council member Daniel Carlino created a dynamic that gave observers the impression that Carlino was some kind of swing vote, but that first round broke down with 6 votes for Jordan Hess, 5 votes for Mike Nugent, and Carlino’s lone vote for Fred Rice.

In terms of public support, all three candidates had people willing to say supportive things, but when the voting rounds began piling up, with a clear contingent of unbudging Hess supporters vs. unbudging Nugent supporters, the onus of resolving the stalemate seemed to develop like a storm cloud over Carlino, a young newcomer to Council who has regularly been chastised by his colleagues for not going along with the program.

It didn’t help the overall mood in the room when Carlino used a strange loophole to ADD a name to the nomination list, that name being Bob Giordano of Free Cycles. The question regarding how many times a name could be added temporarily derailed the process. Also, it’s kind of awkward that the head attorney for the city, who gave a less than satisfying answer to the process question, is also one of the candidates dad, something pointed out by Jacob Elder in a public comment.

The voting rounds went on and on, only slightly changing from where Carlino’s one vote would travel. There was one recess, then another, and then some wrangling over suspending rules in order to provide Council members with the opportunity to comment.

The last 15 minute recess turned into over 70 minutes before those in the audience and watching online got to see the adults come back in the room. Two of those adults had been talking heatedly in the dark alley behind chambers because, as we later found out, THAT is where the new Mayor of Missoula was decided.

I’m not sure if it was within the rules to allow Mike Nugent to comment first when Gwen Jones reconvened the meeting, but that’s what happened. Why? Because SOMEONE, he said, had to blink, and Mike Nugent decided it would be him. By throwing his vote to Jordan Hess on the 22nd voting round, the decision was finally made.

Jordan Hess is the Mayor of Missoula staring today, September 13th, 2022.

Since it was such a long night, and since the person leading the meeting was clearly in need of some kind of relaxation aid, Gwen Jones announced that the first round of alcohol would be on her at the bar next door.

Nothing better typifies the continuation of Missoula’s trajectory than alleyway negotiations and a boozy nightcap.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to Jordan Hess Chosen As Missoula Mayor After A Dark, Back-Alley 70 Minute “Negotiation”

  1. webdoodle says:

    You mean Engen’s ghost didn’t come out and annoint a successor? The city council actually had to do it’s job? What a shame. At least they celebrated in Engen’s alcoholic fashion. Only needed a little adultery on the side to keep it real.

    It sounds like Carlino is the only person with a spine on the Missoula Shitty Council. Everyone else browbeats and expects the ‘others’ to get in line like sheep to the slaughter. I especially liked his filibuster esque attempt to keep the bloodsport cage match going all night. I hope he keeps up his pressure, or even turns the dial to 11. Don’t give those shitbags an inch.

    Also, why wasn’t the public invited to the back alley meeting that decided our Mayor for us? Isn’t that a violation of Montana open meeting laws?

    Now that we have a Mayor, is it back to racking us with continued tax raises, while road dieting us, removing parking, deploying the militarized police to terrorize us, forcing us to wear masks, and not allow us to assemble? Will Hess use the censor button during shitty council meetings to ensure his version of the truth is the only one? Will they waste another 10 years trying to fight a homeless problem that the shitty council itself creates? Will they continue to use TIF money to bring in big box stores to economically destabilize local small business owners? Will they continue to politically attack conservatives by tax by sidewalk, to continue to feed the concrete mafia’s insatiable hunger? Will they continue to violate federal patient medical privacy by creating mental health crisis maps from Partnership Health, St Pats, CMC, and County Health Department records? Will they continue attempts to circumvent our 2nd amendment rights by restricting gun shows and violating our privacy by requiring background checks on person to person gun sales?

    • Good commentary and questions.Libertarians pulled for Hess on the theory that he’d be easiest to beat next year. The Council neoliberals backed Hess 6 unwavering votes) whereas the so-called, self-professed Council Progressives and DemSoc Kristen Jordan, backed Nugent (5 unwavering votes) ,and DemSoc Carlino backed Rice.

  2. Nice reporting! FAR superior to The Missoulian’s, which was do inadequate that I left the following as a story comment, also posting it on Facebook & Nexf Door; I’ve included dome inside details few knew about):


    I guess impending story filing deadline pressure produces incomplete, error-ridden and misleading reporting [by The Missoulian].

    Not one word about the “15 minute” recess that stretched to 72 minutes during which Hess and Nugent met in the alley behind Council Chambers prior to the 22nd ballot in which Nugent’s gallant and personally painful decision to vote for Hess provided Hess’s seventh vote.

    No mention that all but Councilman Carlino (and virtual attendee Councilor Jordan) vanished during that 72-minute recess, creating widespread concern by public observers that open meeting violations were occurring.

    No reporting of City Attorney Jim Nugent rendering a rule interpretation on a question directly affecting the process for Interim Mayor selection in which his son was a contender. (Of course, The Missoulian has avoided reporting the father-son status of the pair for months including during the 2021 election in which Mike Nugent was elected an Alderman of Ward 2).

    A misleading, incomplete quoting of Councilwoman Vasecka’s statement of reasons why she was nominating Hess. She said that while she disagreed with the late Mayor Engen’s politics, Missoula voters re-elected Engen to his fifth term that was cut short by Engen’s death from pancreatic cancer, and Ms. Vasecka felt the Council should honor the voters’ intent by choosing Hess (the most zealous Council advocate for Engen’s policies) to complete Engen’s term.

    Zero savvy shoeleather work and analysis, which might have revealed that former Mayor Dan Kemmis had secured pledges by two Councilwomen to support one of the two Councilmen nominated, and after Ballot 11 began attempting via cell to get them to switch to Rice. Or that Democratic State Rep. Ellie Hill was pressing former “Team Liberty” Councilman Jesse Ramos to get Team Liberty Councilwoman Vasecka to change support from Hess to Nugent.

    Truly inexplicable omission of the guerilla theater by Democratic Socialist Councilman Daniel Carlino, who nominated applicant Tiegan Avery and Bob Giordano pursuant to Council Rule 31 which permits additional nominations whenever two identical votes occur in succession.

    No mention that Councilwoman Stacie Anderson and Nugent implied that Carlino (and according to nominee Nugent, probably 2 or 3 other Councilors) were “playing games” (Nugent’s words) for an unknown objective (according to Anderson).

    Each additional nomination opened up a round of public and Council comment.

    No allusion to a newsworthy moment in which unsuccessful applicant and loser to Engen in the 2021 election, Jacob Elder, phoned in to comment, following my comment noting the appearsnce of impropriety in City Atty Nugent ruling on a key issue in a procedure directly affecting his son (a ruling which was, as noted by Hess, also substantively erroneous per Council Rule #8). Elder’s TV volume was up and he kept pausing before ultimately trying to concur wth my comment (in which I also said the Council was flirting with its appointment being judicially challenged by someone, and this was a result of the Council abdicating its City Charter authority to Engen for 17 years and not now being able to run a simple meeting, and that to prevent more of that dependency they should indeed consider voting for an outsider like Avery). Acting Mayor Gwen Jones ruled Elder out of order, saying coments were limited to Avery’s nomination. Elder, who wasn’t petmitted to get that far, said “You let Mr. Hunt say whatever he wanted to!” whereupon he was disconnected. At commencement of the meeting. Jones had said decorum would be strictly enforced, including by ruling out of order anyone using hateful speech or treating a person “dismissively.” I guess she forgot her own rule.

    Preceding the 22nd roll call vote producing Hess’s appointment, Acting Mayor Jones, a Nugent supporter, walked over to Nugent and hugged him after he announced his intention to vote for Hess (following the 72-minute alley meeting with Hess).

    Upon Hess being appointed, Jones declared the meeting adjourned at 11:39 pm and offered to buy Councilors the first round at The Meagher Bar next door (with no more than six Councilors per table to avoid Open Meeting Law violations).


    As I was walking out of the Chambers, having been awake well past 24 hours, I started falling asleep and stumbling. Councilor Contos was delayed, kindly assisting me during my narcolepsy episode, as did other Councilors and a police officer. Meanwhile, The Meagher Bar having already closed, the Coucilors then chose The Oxford, and departed while. Councilor Contos remained with me until my wife arrived to drive me home. Gonzo journalist Travis Mateer — who previously worked with my wife at Missoula Aging Services and is a friend of mine — caused me great amusement (prolonging my cataplexy) by pretending he didn’t know me and questioning me in his First Responder alter ego from his days as a Poverello Center volunteer.


  3. I have a longer article coming later today about what transpired. Martin “Gomer” Kidston and the money interests really need Carlino to take the blame for a process he didn’t create, but simply acted in accordance to his rights, which was to vote as he saw fit.

  4. I noticed Gomer’s scapegoating smear! Please do me a favor and correct my sleep-deprived error above in which for some reaaon I referenced Jones as a Hess rather than a Nugent, supporter. Thanks, I’m now gonna take in your Sausage Machine piece.

  5. Pingback: I Can Say Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt That Missoula’s Mayoral Race Is Going To Be Something To Watch | Zoom Chron Blog

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