City Council’s holiday shake-up

Today we published this story on Harlan Wells, who’s leaving his city council seat to work for Corey Stapleton.

I’ve always found Harlan an intriguing member of city council and I’m sorry to see him go, if only because debates may be a little more tame on Monday nights.

Council Chair Marilyn Marler, though, was not happy with his level of participation.

He was the only council member who didn’t serve on any committees-I’m actually pretty sure every other member is signed up to be on every committee-and that made for some longer Monday night discussions while he asked his questions.

But by the last couple months, he mentioned watching meeting videos before showing up on Monday, so I think he was working on addressing those complaints-maybe to solidify his standing before running for Mayor.

In any case, Harlan’s conservative views represented more than 1/12th of Missoula and he took that role seriously enough, voting no again and again on a pretty wide range of issues.

A commenter on the Missoulian’s website thinks Harlan should step up to run for Montana’s U.S. Representative seat in a few years. I dunno if that’s so likely-but maybe more so than him returning to finish his run for Mayor?

The definite upside to all of this is going through the process of appointing a new council representative, which opened on Tuesday.

I hope Marilyn was serious when she told me council could use a little diversity.

“I am not opposed to appointing a conservative person as long as they can demonstrate they’re interested in debate and discussion,” she said. Now to see if the rest of the council agrees.

If not, I’m going to have to get creative on how I can work the phrase “lone dissenting vote” into the paper.

Maybe Dave Strohmaier (who’s getting sworn in tomorrow) will stir things up on the Board of County Commissioners.

PF