The Independent has always played strong at home, but this year we came away with an impressive 4-2 score card in Missoula elections (we abstained from one endorsement—call it a tie or a rain delay). In Ward 1, political newcomer and Indy pick Heidi Kendall beat out Pete Pettersen and Cass Chinske getting an impressive 42 percent of the vote. Don Nicholson squeaked by our choice Elizabeth Macasaet by just three votes in Ward 2—or did he? With such a close race, Macasaet has asked for a recount meaning this one’s too close to call for now. Our friend in Ward 3, Stacy Rye, is going to be stepping into John Torma’s massive size 14 shoes. Rye edged out Tracy O’Reilly in a close race.
Incumbent Jerry Ballas’ publicity generating lawsuit against his neighbor apparently paid off. In the one race the Indy didn’t endorse a candidate in, Ballas beat out Tim Lovely and Alan Ault to retain his Ward 4 seat. Heavy-hitter and political veteran Bob Lovegrove destroyed our pick, two-time Councilman Scott Morgan in Ward 5. Newcomer Renny Malach lost to crotchety but loveable Ed Childers in Ward 6. And finally, in a no brainier, Missoulians overwhelmingly supported the pool bond.
In the Flathead, voters followed most of the Indy’s recommendations, with one big exception. The race in Kalispell City Council’s Ward 2 came down to a pair of votes as challenger Bob Herron squeaked past incumbent Fred Leistiko, 444 to 442.
Herron is likely to become an outspoken force on the Council, but he’ll be tempered by newcomer Kari Gabriel and re-elected incumbent Randy Kenyon (both Indy picks).
The best news on election day came from Whitefish, where a slate of progressive candidates bumped incumbent Turner Askew out of office and claimed two vacated seats. Tom Muri, Cris Coughlin and Velvet Phillips-Sullivan will join re-elected Mayor Andy Feury on Monday nights at Whitefish City Hall.