We asked this question on our website: “If the election were today, who would you pick for Missoula’s mayor?”
Here are the results:
Peggy Cain: 90
John Engen: 283
Michael Hyde: 99
Dean McCollom: 32
Lyn Hellegaard, a one-term member of the Missoula City Council, also is mounting a write-in campaign. When reached Friday morning, Hellegaard confirmed she is in the race, but she said she did not have time to discuss her candidacy. She has not returned subsequent voicemails.
However, Jeanette Zentgraf, of Lolo, contacted the Missoulian about Hellegaard’s campaign. Zentgraf said a group of political activists had hoped to support Peggy Cain for mayor. However, after considering Cain, she and others determined the job of mayor would be “a terrific burden for (Cain), a novice in politics.”
“It sounds very noble, but not only would she not be very effective, she would be very disappointing,” said Zentgraf, with Advocates for Our Republic.
Cain, a retired nurse, did not return calls for comment. However, in earlier interviews, Cain acknowledged she was a political newcomer but said she knows how to surround herself with capable people and has a history of doing so. She also said she is a quick study and has been in other situations where she had to learn the ropes on the job, such as overseas trips to help people in Honduras.
According to Zentgraf, Hellegaard is viable and strong, and Zentgraf is pleased to have helped persuade the director of Missoula Ravalli Transit Management Association to take on two-term incumbent Mayor Engen.
Zentgraf lives outside Missoula, but she said even taxpayers in Lolo have a vested interest in the race. If the city of Missoula purchases Mountain Water as Engen hopes to do, it won’t be contributing to the tax base, and others will have to make up for it, she said.
She said Hellegaard is the candidate who can steer the city in a different direction: “Lyn is a good woman … she’s done a lot of research. She is not a novice,” Zentgraf said. “And I hoped to support Peggy, and then upon more or less vetting her, I really feel she’d be at a terrific disadvantage, as nice a person as she is. It would be very unkind. It wouldn’t be productive.”
Since the filing deadline has passed, Hellegaard’s name will not appear on the ballot.
— Keila Szpaller