Missoula’s mayoral succession has a very interesting history


As the process moves forward to replace the late Mayor John Engen, the Missoula City Council will choose up to 12 candidates for the position that was chosen by councilors from each of the six wards on Aug. 29.

The interviews will take place on September 7 before the Committee of the Whole of City Council.

At a recent city council meeting, city attorney Jim Nugent said the prospective nominee may have another job he should transition from.

“The law requires you to appoint someone within 30 days and that probably means you swear them in,” Nugent said. “But there can be a transition if the person has other commitments, and there’s no indication anywhere that one of you can’t have another job. So nothing prevents the mayor from having another job so that he can get to the necessary point.

City Attorney Jim Nugent brought some Missoula history to the meeting by referring to what happened when Mayor Cregg died in 1983.

Nugent said the city council could not come to an agreement on any of the candidates to fill the late mayor’s term.

“They chose Mayor (John) Toole many years ago when Mayor Cregg died. “There were 25 or 27 candidates. Stan Healy was a member of the city council, and he nominated John Toole, who was another member of the city council, and that’s what the council ended up (choosing). So they weren’t making any headway with any of the candidates, so one council member nominated another council member and John Toole became mayor.

We reached out to Ward 6 Councilwoman Sandra Vasecka for her thoughts on the mayoral selection process.

“We have a lot of pressure to choose someone who leads us to run this city,” Vasecka began. So far, two city councilors have applied for mayor and there have been 15 other external candidates. So I have to figure out who I’m going to move forward in the interview process, and based on the interviews, I can only select one. And we as a council have to choose someone and they have to get seven votes altogether.”

Vasecka said August 29 will be the candidate selection day.

“We’ll be discussing that on Wednesday about how we’re going to interview up to 12 candidates,” she said. “We’re looking at having 40-50 minute sessions per person and we’re discussing some of our questions that we’re going to ask and it looks like there will be eight or nine questions that we’ll be asking candidates.”

What is Vasecka looking for in the new mayor?

“What I’m looking for is knowledge of how things work in the city; knowledge of the city council process, knowledge of the mayor’s role in the city, and I’m also looking for someone who’s impartial “, she said. “I personally don’t want a new mayor who will be super left or super right. I want someone who will be more equal in representing everyone in the city.”

The current process continues with each ward selecting two candidates. Interviews will take place on September 7 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and applicants will receive interview questions by email. Interviews will be determined by lottery.

The chosen candidate will be the mayor and the position currently pays $8,284.52 per month plus city benefits.

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