HELENA — It’ll be about two months before Helena’s newly elected city commissioners take office, but both of the successful candidates say they’re ready to start studying city issues so they can hit the ground running in January.
The top vote-getter in Tuesday’s election was Eric Feaver, the recently retired president of the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the state’s largest union. He says he spent much of Wednesday morning responding to people offering him congratulations.
“Clearly citizens in Helena were pleased with the election outcome, and I was delighted they shared that with me,” he said.
Melinda Reed secured the second seat, finishing ahead of third-place candidate Troy McGee by less than 200 votes, out of more than 19,000 cast. Reed, who spent several months as Helena’s interim city manager last year, says she was excited by the support and the voter turnout.
“I think it’s still sinking in, honestly,” she said. “It was a long campaign, we put a lot of work in, so right now I’m mostly looking forward to taking a little break before getting started next year.”
Feaver and Reed will join Mayor Wilmot Collins – who was reelected Tuesday – and incumbent commissioners Emily Dean and Sean Logan – who were elected in 2019. They will take over for Andres Haladay and Heather O’Loughlin, who chose not to run again.
Feaver says he’s had some disagreements with the current commissioners, but he said they’ve also accomplished a lot – especially on issues like affordable housing and infrastructure.
“This current commission and the mayor have done a great job trying to move the city forward and making sure our water and sewer and streets are in tip-top shape,” he said. “But we have a lot of work yet to do in that regard, so it’s not like they’ve finished the job and we can just float into office and there’s nothing there for us to deal with.”
Reed said she’s particularly interested in what the next steps will be with the city’s newly created affordable housing trust fund.
“I think we need to get started; it is what I heard over and over again when I was out meeting with community members,” she said. “It is a key issue for our community, and now that we do have the trust fund and some resources in there, we need to get started.”
The city is going to hold an orientation to help the newly elected commissioners get ready for their new positions.