HELENA — It’s been a month since candidates could begin filing for Montana municipal elections. In Helena, several candidates have already begun lining up.
Helena voters will select their mayor and two city commissioners this year – the majority of the city’s governing body.
Mayor Wilmot Collins announced in March that he would seek a second four-year term, saying he was proud of what the city had accomplished and ready to . So far, he has been the only candidate to file in the mayoral race.
However, not all of the members of the “progressive slate” that Collins was elected on in 2017 will be joining the race again. Commissioner Heather O’Loughlin confirmed to MTN that she will not run for a second term.
“From improving the city’s response to snow removal, to investing in critical infrastructure projects, to establishing the city’s housing trust fund, I am proud of the work the commission has done over the past three years, and I look forward to continuing this important work as I finish my term this year,” she said in a statement.
Commissioner Andres Haladay, who first joined the commission in 2014, has not yet announced if he plans to run for a third term.
Collins, Haladay and O’Loughlin campaigned together in 2017, on shared priorities like affordable housing.
Three candidates have already put themselves forward in the race for Helena City Commission, and all three have held prominent positions in the community:
· Eric Feaver was the longtime head of MEA-MFT, Montana’s teachers’ union, and later of the merged Montana Federation of Public Employees.
· Troy McGee served for more than 40 years in the Helena Police Department, including 23 years as the city’s police chief.
· Melinda Reed was the former executive director of the Friendship Center. Last year, she spent several months as Helena’s interim city manager.
All city commission candidates will appear on the same ballot, and the top two will be elected.
In East Helena, City Councilmember Wesley Feist – who was appointed to a seat representing the city’s south side – is running to finish out the last two years of his predecessor’s term. County election officials said they have not yet received any filings for two other city council seats, or for East Helena mayor.
Incumbent Mayor James Schell told MTN he had not yet decided whether to run for a third term, and he would be taking more time to talk to residents and his family.
The filing period is only about half over. Candidates have until June 21 to get into city races.