On Election Night at the Depot, incumbent Missoula Mayor John Engen fiddled with his phone while waiting to see if he'd beaten three challengers aiming to take his job. There wasn't much suspense.
At 8:17 p.m., as the early results trickled in, Engen learned that he was beating his nearest competitor by a four-to-one margin. In addition, it looked like Missoula progressives were going to sweep the election.
"That'll work," said the typically chatty mayor.
As of press time Wednesday morning, unofficial results showed Engen garnering 11,292 votes to sail past his nearest challenger, Peggy Cain, who came in with 2,814. Dean McCollum was third with 1,207 votes, while Mike Hyde earned 1,076.
As the mayor soaked in the news of his reelection, Missoula City Council hopefuls Emily Brock Bentley, Bryan von Lossberg and Jordan Hess showed decidedly more enthusiasm while digesting their victories a few blocks away at the Union Club. "I'm really excited," Hess said.
Come Jan. 1, Ward 1's von Lossberg, who serves as the executive director of the Alternative Energy Resources Organization, Ward 2's Hess, a University of Montana Mansfield Library web developer, and Ward 3's Bentley, a campaign manager for the nonprofit Compassion and Choices, will join Ward 5's Annelise Noelle Hedahl, a Charter Communications advertising sales representative, to bring a significant infusion of fresh blood to the city's 12-member council.
"I think the people who are coming in are going to dig in and get their hands dirty," von Lossberg said.
Back at the Depot, the two incumbents who ran to keep their seats, Council President Marilyn Marler and Ward 4's Jon Wilkins, mingled alongside Engen. Marler calmly took the news that she beat challenger Ernest Szechenyi with 74 percent of the vote, while Wilkins, who ran unopposed, seemed equally relaxed.
The most contested race of the night involved the battle for Municipal Court Judge. As of Wednesday morning, unofficial results showed incumbent Kathleen Jenks with 7,183 votes to Mark McLaverty's 6,533 and Leta Womack's 2,232.
The ballot also asked voters to approve or reject the passage of the Missoula Urban Transportation District Levy, which would pay $1.7 million annually for beefing up bus service. The levy passed with 57 percent of the vote, leaving Mountain Line Executive Director Michael Tree excited about additional services and extended hours. "The ridership is going to go berserk," Tree said.