BILLINGS, MT – Conservation candidates running for local office across the state achieved resounding victories at the ballot box on Tuesday night. Most notably, all three MCV-endorsed mayoral candidates won their races, solidifying conservation leadership in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings.
The message was clear that candidates who stand up for clean air, water, and our open spaces were the candidates who resonated with Montana voters.
In Billings, MCV-endorsed candidate Bill Cole won the mayoral race against Jeff Essmann who, as a state legislator, received a dismal 16 percent lifetime score from MCV. Essmann repeatedly voted against conservation values during his time as a legislator also pushed voter restriction laws that would have made Montana’s elections less free and fair. Ward 3 candidate Denise Joy and Ward 4 candidate Penny Ronning handily beat their opponents by pounding the pavement and talking to constituents about the Billings they want to see with complete streets, livable, walkable neighborhoods, and open spaces.
“The Yellowstone River and the Rimrocks are icons that define Billings. I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation about how we can best preserve and leverage our valuable resources.” said Mayor-Elect Bill Cole. His commonsense approach won the hearts and minds of Yellowstone County residents who supported him with over 65 percent of the vote.
In Bozeman, MCV-endorsed candidate Chris Mehl won his bid for Deputy Mayor and will continue his work as a conservation champion from the City Commission as a leader of Bozeman. Mehl, who works for Headwaters Economics, knows more than anyone the economic value of Montana’s blue ribbon trout streams and public lands for our state. For the City Commission, Terry Cunningham came out on top in a five-way race besting candidates across the board.
Helena built a solid pro-conservation majority by re-electing Commissioner Andres Haladay and new-comer Heather O’Loughlin to the City Commission who led the field of six candidates. O’Loughlin and Haladay will focus on expanding clean energy opportunities and find ways to develop downtown Helena. Haladay was endorsed by MCV in his first election four years ago while this was O’Loughlin’s first run for elected office. She will be the first woman on the city commission in recent years.
Missoula maintained its conservation majority when MCV-endorsed Mayor John Engen was re-elected along with nearly every conservation candidate. Engen cruised to victory with over 56 percent of the vote, defeating opponent Lisa Triepke. Winning re-election unopposed were MCV-backed Bryan von Lossberg (Ward 1) and Jordan Hess (Ward 2). In Ward 3, MCV-endorsed Heather Harp in a three-way race, and, in Ward 5 MCV-endorsed Stacie Anderson won handily by over 16 points.
Whitefish upheld its super-conservation majority when uncontested Melissa Hartman won re-election to the City Council.
Tonight’s conservation victories laid the critical groundwork for important legislative and statewide elections in 2018. MCV is a statewide nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to fighting for Montana’s air, water, open spaces, wildlife, and public health. MCV provides voter participation services to over 72,000 Montanans.