Progressive Ward 2 city council incumbent Pam Walzer looked resolute election night, Nov. 8, as city election results showed her narrowly trailing challenger Adam Hertz. "I'm still hopeful," she told supporters who gathered at the Central Bar and Grill for Forward Montana's Election Night Watch Party.
She's got reason to stay hopeful. Unofficial election results indicate that Walzer lost by three votes. But because a recount occurs when there's less than a 10-vote margin, and six ballots from Ward 2 haven't been reconciled because they're missing signatures or for various reasons have yet to pass legal muster, the Walzer-Hertz race isn't officially decided.
If the results stand, liberals will have a net gain of one seat on council's already left-leaning 12-member body. It could bolster their supermajority, allowing them to fast-track legislation and override a mayoral veto.
In Ward 1, incumbent Jason Wiener beat challenger Mary "Maer" Seibert by more than a thousand votes. In Ward 3, Alex Taft, who was endorsed by the Missoula County Democratic Party and Mayor John Engen (as well as by the Missoula Independent), garnered about 75 percent for an easy Ward 3 win over candidates Paul Bohan and Sean Ives. In Ward 5, Mike O'Herron had 55 percent of the vote to unseat conservative Renee Mitchell. In Ward 6, council president Ed Childers beat challengers Peggy Miller and Shane Stack with 56 percent.
On election night, Caitlin Copple mingled among friends at the Central while working to contain the emotions that came with learning she beat Ward 4 incumbent Lyn Hellegaard with 53 percent of the vote.
"Oh my God," Copple said. "I'm going to throw up."
Progressives took home yet another win as locals by a whopping 75 percent supported Councilmember Cynthia Wolken's anti-corporate personhood referendum, which asks state and federal legislators to take a stand against corporate money in election campaigning.
"I said on the way over here, 50s or 60s (percentages), I'll be happy," Wolken said from the Central. "Seventies, I'll be over the moon."
Wolken had another reason to be over the moon. She'll serve two more years on council after taking 92 percent of the vote in her unopposed election.
As for the contested Ward 2 race, Missoula County Election Administrator Vickie Zeier says provisional ballots will be counted Monday, Nov. 14. A recount will occur Wednesday, Nov. 16. "Anything can happen," she cautions.