For years the big story in the Flathead was its booming economy fueled by rapid growth. Now it's stalled growth and near-double-digit unemployment, and that quick swing of the economic pendulum is the theme that dominates the county's elections this year.
The highest profile race has Tammi Fisher, a Kalispell attorney, challenging two-term incumbent Pam Kennedy for Kalispell mayor.
Fisher, who through her practice focuses primarily on property law, land use and planning, real estate transactions and real estate portfolio management, has taken Kennedy to task on city spending and development issues like impact fees and annexation. The Flathead Beacon has a roundup of the candidates' positions on these issues here, and the Daily Inter Lake has a profile of Kennedy here and Fisher here. Neither candidate, it appears, has a website.
There are two Kalispell City Council races. In Ward 2, businessman Jeff Zauner tries to unseat incumbent Hank Olson. In Ward 3, Marc Rold challenges long-time councilman Jim Atkinson.
At a recent candidates' forum, reports the Beacon...
Challengers Zauner and Rold challenged incumbents Atkinson and Olson for their support of transportation impact fees, the controversial policy adopted earlier this year that charges developers a fee to pay for the road improvements necessitated by the traffic increase from their developments.
Zauner and Rold both cited the impact fees as the chief impediment to Kalispell’s economic recovery, with Rold saying the fees need to be revoked because the policy sends a message from the city to new business that says, “We don’t want you.”
“That is the main thing we can do to make our city business-friendly,” Rold added.
In Whitefish, four candidates—Frank Sweeney, Bill Kahle, Phil Mitchell and Chris Hyatt—vie for three seats on the six-member Whitefish City Council. The Beacon has a nice piece about the dynamics of the race here, and a Q&A here.