Two Montana natives are vying for the Ward 4 seat on the Kalispell City Council.
Ballots for the Kalispell municipal elections go out on Oct. 18 and elections take place on Nov. 7.
Incumbent Tim Kluesner, 49, said he feels his work on the council is not done and expressed a desire to see fruition in the projects he has been a part of launching during his last term.
One project Kluesner said he has supported from the beginning is the development plan for the core area.
The core area, according to Kluesner, will provide the perfect opportunity to attract new businesses, create more jobs, provide more affordable housing and improve the overall “walkability” and outlay of downtown Kalispell.
“Growing up here, I know what the hindrance of the railroad tracks were and are,” he said.
Once the railroad tracks have been removed from downtown, Kluesner said the city will be able to utilize more buildable space, making the most of the lots already inside the city limits.
“We need to build up, not out,” Kluesner said. By filling in the under-utilized areas within the city, Kluesner said the expense for providing services such as water and sewer to those places drops considerably when compared to the cost of expanding and building outside the city.
His hope is that the core area will promote the construction of multistory condominiums that will provide large-scale housing options.
“Affordable housing is certainly something the city can assist in. We can’t go and build it, but we can assist with our zoning and building projects to allow those types of projects to happen quicker,” he said.
If re-elected, Kluesner said there are at least two major issues he hopes to address.
“We’re going to have to do something about our ambulance,” he said. Right now, Kalispell ambulances run like a business as an enterprise fund, supported mainly by the users or their insurance, but unable to fully fund the service. They are losing money, Kluesner said, and he hopes to look at the best way to fund the critical service and hopes to supplement some of the cost through the city budget.
He also wants to tackle the implementation of the needed sewer system expansion along the west-side interceptor. The project, he said, will have to be done all at once, making for an expensive bill. However, if the project is put off, growth in Kalispell will come to a halt because the city will be unable to issue anymore building permits, he stressed.
Kluesner said he considers himself a true nonpartisan candidate, stating that his goal is simply to do what is best for the residents of Kalispell.
The council “is here to make sure the water is running, the toilet flushes, and the police and fire show up,” he said.
Kluesner’s opponent is a U.S. Army veteran originally from Great Falls.
Sid Daoud, 50, said he considers himself an active participant in the Liberty Movement and emphasized the importance of the free market, free association and supporting business growth in the Kalispell community.
His vision for the city, he said, is for a small, efficient government to encourage growth while monitoring and minimalizing spending.
“I don’t want to cut anything and make anything dangerous, but I do want to make sure we’re delivering value wherever we can, kind of like a business approach to it. Take a look at are we being efficient, are we using the money that we’re getting from the businesses and the citizens in the most efficient way,” he said.
Though Daoud said he has not yet looked at the city’s plan for the core area, he said he thinks the goal is to make downtown a destination rather than a drive-through area.
“I’m not sure how much business removing the tracks is going to bring in, but it will make more area available for business,” he said.
“I think that if I’m elected I will actually have some input in that, so I would really like to come up to speed with the city planner and see what plans are in place for that and how much it’s going to cost,” he added.
He also stressed his desire for the council to begin looking at more creative ways of funding projects and approaching issues.
He gave an example of the Begg Dog Park and the possibility of a new library, saying that those in support of certain projects should help with the fundraising, taking more of the burden off the general public.
He also said that the end products should be run like businesses and be self-supporting, though he did not specify what that entailed.
“There’s nothing that says bureaucrats can’t be creative,” Daoud said. “That’s something I’d like to look into for every single issue.”
Daoud also takes a hard stand against bonds, saying he does not feel they are a responsible way to pay for things.
“I do not want to burden future generations with our decisions now. I feel that’s really doing them a disservice,” he said.
Though Daoud considers himself a strong Libertarian, he said he has no intention of pushing a Libertarian agenda if elected. He said he hopes to focus instead on giving people in his ward a voice and a choice.
“I’m not going to be upset either way,” he said. “If you want things to remain the same and have the same pattern, then [Kluesner] is probably your best choice. If you’re looking for a new view on everything that comes up before the City Council that is liberty-based and maybe have more of a focus on the things that are important to people who value that, I would look toward me.
“I want the people of the ward to stand up and go ‘hey, we want this or we want this,’” he added.