Serving as a city commissioner can be a largely thankless job – as evidenced by Wednesday night’s vote to approve the Black-Olive mid-rise apartment-commercial building. The commissioners who voted to approve the building likely lost a few friends in the neighborhood adjacent to the project where there was considerable opposition.
But despite the difficulty of the position, Bozemanites are fortunate this year to have a field of highly qualified and enthusiastic candidates to fill upcoming vacancies on the commission.
After interviewing each of the five candidates for the commission, we believe newcomers Terry Cunningham and Doug Chandler are the strongest candidates. (We’ll make an endorsement in the mayoral race later this week.)
Cunningham and Chandler both have long careers in business, Cunningham in advertising and media, Chandler in engineering. Chandler’s knowledge and experience in developing infrastructure would serve the city commission well as it copes with population growth and real estate development. Cunningham would bring an exceptional level of enthusiasm to the post. He has already developed proposals for affordable housing and increased communications with city residents. Both have volunteered in several capacities on community issues.
While we view Chandler and Cunningham as strong individual candidates, they balance each other nicely and as a pair would greatly strengthen the commission as it grapples with the city’s future.
Among the remaining candidates, political newcomer and millennial Matt Saporito stands out as a candidate for his youth and enthusiasm. If he fails to win a seat on the commission this time, the 32-year-old is strongly encouraged to continue his interest in local politics, perhaps serving on a citizen advisory board or two to gain experience in city government.
Restaurant owner and incumbent Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy certainly cares deeply about the community, but the exceptionally strong qualifications of Chandler and Cunningham should earn them the voters’ nod this time around. And Heide Arneson – an Air Force veteran and long-time Bozeman School Board member – would also bring interesting qualifications to the position. But she won another term on the School Board just last May, and her talents would be best used serving out that term.
Gratitude is extended to all the candidates for their willingness to get involved in the contentious issues facing the community. And we should all express our gratitude by casting a ballot in the Nov. 7 election.