Californians can vote, too!

Here’s a story from Eric Edlund, who tried to register to vote when he first moved to Montana from California:

I moved to Missoula in Fall, 1997, and at the DMV when I handed in my California driver’s license the guy at the desk made a snide comment about so many Californians moving here that he figured he’d have to move to Alaska to get away.


I didn’t think anything of it (and in fact I’m sympathetic to concerns about the scourge of Californians moving to places like Montana. Now that I’m in, shut the gate behind me, that’s what I say : ) ).


The next spring (or maybe it was that November, I can’t recall) Missoula had a local election, just school board and some mill levies I believe.


Since I knew that voter registrations were done at the DMV, I figured I was registered and showed up at the polling place. But I was not on the list, and since I don’t think MT had same-day registration then, that was one of the only elections in my adult life in which I did not vote. I registered at the Courthouse the next day.


However, my wife, who’d followed the same procedure at about the same time to get her MT driver’s license, *was* registered to vote, which makes me suspect that the guy who helped me at DMV intentionally neglected to submit my voter registration.


No hard feelings. I’ve had no problems voting every time since then, never waited more than 10 minutes, usually no wait at all; I voted early absentee this year and it was painless. We’re lucky to live in a state where elections are so well-run.

Thanks for the anecdote, Eric.

— Keila Szpaller

Mansfield is Gernant’s campaign treasurer

Mike Mansfield has not only endorsed Missoula’s Tyler Gernant for Congress, but he’s apparently working on his campaign.

A tad perplexing, right?

I flinched when I first received an e-mail from the Gernant campaign, which contained a disclosure box at the bottom of the page that indicated Mike Mansfield, most notably thought of as Montana’s late and much-loved statesmen, was Gernant’s treasurer. At first I thought it was a joke, but every e-mail since has included the same disclosure box.

Gernant is vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Congressmen Denny Rehberg in November 2010. But first, he must win a primary election a year from now against Montana Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald.

Figuring that campaign disclosure was something a candidate would probably not mess around with, I decided to call Gernant’s campaign manager, Nathan Kosted, to get the bottom of this.

“I remember having the exact same reaction,” he assured me.

Come to find out, Gernant’s treasurer is the late Montana senator’s nephew, whose name is also Mike. Gernant’s dad grew up with him in Great Falls, Kosted said.

Case closed.

— Chelsi Moy

Debra Minez wins

And you don’t even need to vote for her. Last night, Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard congratulated Minez on her third place win in the state bus rodeo competition in Great Falls. Minez and her handy driving skills are with Mountain Line, so go Missoula!

In other business, Councilwoman Marilyn Marler finally has an opponent. Kathy Greathouse made good on her threat and filed today for Ward 6, according to this news release.*

Too bad Greathouse doesn’t live in Councilman Jon Wilkins’s ward. Last night, he sounded almost eager for a challenger. Bueller?

— Keila Szpaller

Yes indeedy …

Councilman Dave Strohmaier is running for re-election in Ward 1. He’ll sign whatever needs to be signed when he’s back in Missoula.

In other news, this week the Missoula City Council OK’d some exemptions for noise for reconstruction of the Scott Street bridge deck. Traffic gets moved, too, and the plan for that is here.*

After the meeting, Councilman Dick Haines offered his take on the Miller Creek Road easement. This right-of-way is the one that turned up late in the game and runs through some people’s homes. People want the city and county to completely vacate the old public way — something some government folks think is ludicrous. Give it away on this side — and then pay a load of taxpayer money to buy it on the other side? Haines, though, said he suspects the road will need to be five lanes later on. So he isn’t fond of doing only partial vacations on the west side of the road and creeping close to those houses. He figures that’d leave those people in limbo about whether the next round of construction will further cut into their properties and homes and garages.

“So we’re going to make these people suffer 20 years?” Haines said.

His idea? Honor the request of neighbors and totally vacate the public way. Then, plan to expand on the west side, where it’s mostly pastureland. What about the cost, though? Said Haines: “We’re 20 or 30 years away.”

The problem is one that’s pressing down on the City Public Works director right now, though. His take’s in this story.*

— Keila Szpaller

To anyone planning to cast a ballot this campaign season…

…expect to fill out two pages. The elections office has received some calls lately, especially now that absentee ballots have been mailed, from people who think they received TWO ballots. In most cases, that’s not true. It’s just that the ballot is longer than usual, and takes up the front and back of one sheet of paper, and the front of another. Check ‘er out before you phone. If for some reason you actually did receive two ballots, Election Administrator Vickie Zeier asks that you call the elections office immediately as it was human error.

— Chelsi Moy