Fancy bike ain’t got no putt-putt

shortyjensenI went to Safeway to grab a sandwich this week, and the coolest bike stood just outside the entrance.

It’s actually not a bicycle, it’s a quadcycle. I don’t know if that’s the official name, but the point is it has four wheels.

Shorty Jensen, who lives in the downtown area, made it himself and posed for a picture. I caught video of him driving away, and I’m going to try to insert it here so you can see it in action.

The video! Thanks, Anne Cruikshank!

I told him I liked the John Deere colors, but Jensen said it’s different than a tractor, too.

“It ain’t got no putt-putt,” he said.

It’s Friday. Time to get your putt-putt on for the weekend.

— Keila Szpaller

P.S. I couldn’t get the video up, but I’m going to keep trying. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. We did it! Next time, we’ll figure out how to get it to look like a movie in the post.

A wee dose of patriotism

Adam Hertz won last night, and so did folks who cast ballots in Ward 2.

“I tried to stay really positive in the campaign, and I think that helped me,” Hertz said shortly after the recount concluded.

The Missoula County Commissioners read each vote cast aloud, and last night, I had a moment of wishing I lived in Ward 2 so MY ballot could be read out loud.

The counting wasn’t fast, and at one point, Councilwoman Pam Walzer joked that it was like watching paint dry.

Even right after the final tally confirmed her loss, Walzer was gracious about the recount and local politics. She plans to stay involved, and she had praise for the elections officials who made sure to count every single ballot.

“Really, elections when it comes down to it are not sexy. But it’s so obvious the care our elections officials have to make sure every vote is counted,” Walzer said.

It’s enough to make a person feel a tad patriotic.  So is this story from Kim Briggeman about Freedom Riders. It started my morning off right.

I tried to post pictures here from last night, but for some reason, they’re coming up fuzzy. Just imagine piles and piles of ballots around a conference table, and candidates, and commissioners, and you’ll get the idea.

— Keila Szpaller

Alone for the next-to-last count


So Adam Hertz inched ahead yesterday. He did so by just one vote, but it widened the divide between him and Councilwoman Pam Walzer.

I went to the Missoula County Courthouse to watch in person and was struck by how subdued the scene was. During campaigns, it seems like supporters and fans and loved ones swirl around candidates like busy bees around a queen.

In the courthouse conference room, though, Hertz and Walzer each sat alone. It reminded me that at the end of the day, these guys are sticking their own necks out. I was sitting a couple chairs to the left of Walzer, and at one point, another woman was sitting between us. I don’t know if she was one of Walzer’s people or a county employee or someone else, but she left early on.

So there they were, just the two of them.

The recount is tomorrow, and it’s going to be a hand count. Every single ballot read aloud. Riveting. Well, kind of. And when the counting gets dull, some of us have the luxury of taking a little break from the room.

I wonder if they’ll have a digital scoreboard like sports. That’d be cool, right? But probably they don’t have one.

This morning, I was just on the phone with someone who was talking about the Ward 2 recount. This person said he likes Walzer well enough, having worked with her on the Missoula City Council the past four years. But he also would like to see a conservative viewpoint better represented on the Council.

I hope one of them wins, and it isn’t a tie. Otherwise, it’s up to the City Council, and that’s anticlimactic. Well, it’s interesting when it comes to appointing judges and it was fun when Councilman Roy Houseman left and tons of candidates applied to finish his term. In this case, though, Walzer told me the Council would appoint either her or Hertz.


Well, one more day of waiting.

— Keila Szpaller

Who went to the polls? Here’s final turnout.

From the Missoula County Elections Office, here’s turnout by ward.

In Ward 4, the most registered voters cast ballots at 59.1 percent. Wow!

Ward 3 had the least, with 42.67 percent turnout. And even with three candidates.

Here’s the rest, but check details on the link above:

  • 54.48 percent in Ward 1;
  • 48.5 percent in Ward 2;
  • 52.64 in Ward 5; and
  • 46.69 in Ward 6.

— Keila Szpaller

The scoop for counting ballots

There’s 29 ballots in all with no signatures or mismatched signatures.

Of those, 5 are from Ward 2.

To be accepted for a count, those ballots need signatures, or correct signatures, by 5 p.m. today.

Monday, the accepted ballots plus the absentee ballots that came in the mail will be counted. Tuesday at 11 a.m., the votes will be canvassed.

Wednesday possibly at 2:30 p.m., the Missoula County Elections Office will hold a recount.

All this from Elections Administrator Vickie Zeier. I was confused about the ballots, so I just called her.

She expects the recount to take about three hours since it’s fairly simple. They will count some 2,000 ballots by hand.

Then, we’ll know the winner in Ward 2. Unofficial results put Adam Hertz three votes ahead of Councilwoman Pam Walzer.

What a nail biter.

— Keila Szpaller

Out with the old, in with the new!

Voters ousted three incumbents in Missoula City Council races, at least according to final unofficial results from the Missoula County Elections Office.

Your new folks? Adam Hertz, Caitlin Copple and Mike O’Herron. In Ward 2, Hertz beat out Councilwoman Pam Walzer with three votes, so that’s an automatic recount.

The recount will happen sometime after the canvass next Tuesday. We’ll see if anything changes in Ward 2 today with provisional ballots or those rejected for lack of signature.

Even with redrawn districts, Ward 2 likes to remind folks that every vote counts.

— Keila Szpaller

It’s Election Day!

I can’t wait for 8:15 p.m.

That’s when we get early returns from Vickie Zeier, the elections administrator. I can just see her walking toward me with that paper holding the identity of the future council.

Who will it be? Will it be close? Please, let recounts not be necessary. Waiting is so painful.

We’ll have outcomes and updates at

If you didn’t vote, remember that you can’t put your ballot in the mail today. You’ve got to drop it off at the Missoula County Courthouse or one of the schools with a drop box.

If you don’t have your ballot, head to the fairgrounds, headquarters for the Missoula County Elections Office.

If you did vote, check the status of your ballot online. It’s fun. Just go to this link, and put in your name and birthday:

Happy Election Day!

— Keila Szpaller

Linda Frey defends Renee Mitchell

I’m reposting a comment from Linda Frey about Councilwoman Renee Mitchell below.

Frey is right about Mitchell being an independent spirit. She isn’t afraid to throw different ideas on the table or think aloud.

Here’s Frey:

In her literature Renee has made it clear that that she is PROUD of the fact that she has never sought either an endorsement or money from the mayor. She emphasizes that she serves the citizens NOT the mayor or any special interest groups. It seems as though independence of mind and spirit are not valued by The Missoulian. Nor does the mayor encourage diversity of thought if it conflicts with his agenda. Bravo to Renee.

Comments from new posters need approval, and I didn’t approve this one until this afternoon even though it went up Saturday. And it seems like a good one to share up top here.

— Keila Szpaller

Maer Seibert is an uncommon candidate

Maer Seibert cracked me up yesterday, the way she’s running her campaign in Ward 1.

She’s inviting her opponent, Councilman Jason Wiener, to an event at the Press Box. Wiener is attending. I don’t think they’ll hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” but still.

It’s the most unconventional campaign. I don’t think Seibert will win because Wiener is a strong incumbent, but Seibert has been a breath of fresh air in Missoula City Council races.

I hope tons of folks go to her First Friday auction, and she raises lots of money for her nonprofits. I think she even wants to raise money for one of Wiener’s favorite nonprofits.

Oooh. Guess what? I’m overhearing a conversation in the newsroom, and I think it’s about this editorial we ran about Councilwoman Renee Mitchell’s cry that Mayor John Engen should give her money even though she doesn’t support him.

“I know if you’re a coach and you get a team, you’ve got to work with all your athletes,” Mitchell said. “If you’re a mayor and you have a council, you should work with all of them, and it’s not happening.”

According to her, it’d be evidence he can play well with all members of the council team. According to a political scientist, it’d be a dim move.

“… In the real world, you support the people who support you,” (University of Montana political science professor Jim) Lopach said. “I think it would be foolish, unless you have some ulterior motive, to support people who have been a pain in the backside to you.”

What a fun quote, right? It’s awesome when people don’t pull punches.

— Keila Szpaller