MISSOULA, Mont. - It was 12 years ago that John Engen became mayor of Missoula. Marketing specialist Lisa Triepke tells NBC Montana that is too long, and it's one of the main reasons she is stepping forward to challenge the mayor.
"Term limits are one of our key platforms on our campaign. I'm not advocating for term limits because I am running for office. I really believe term limits are key components of political office and public service. I think if you are in office too long you can lose objectivity. You can surround yourself with people who are automatically saying yes. You take the city council right now, we did a tally from Jan. 1 through Sept. 1 of this year. Out of 3,250 votes, there's only been 20 'no' votes. To me that says there are too many people automatically saying yes because they are in sync with the administration right now. That's 99.6 percent of the votes that are saying yes before the public even walk into the city council and make their votes and decisions. I think term limits are good because they promote objectivity," said Triepke.
We also sat down with Engen.
"You have been in office 12 years now. What are your thoughts on term limits?"
"You know, we have them. They're natural. At some point I either don't deliver for citizens and they send me packing, or I wear out. Today I am not worn out. Today there's a lot more work to be done. I have fire in my belly to do that work. When we look at the state level for term limits we find we have legislators who are just getting up to speed in a very complicated system, they are just building relationships, they are just really understanding how the system works and how they can affect that system, and they're out. What happens now is that everybody is learning all the time. A lot of folks are trying things that have been tried in the past and didn't work, and we don't get an effective government. If the citizens of Missoula decide they want term limits that's a decision the people of Missoula get to make. In the meantime, every two years, they also get to make a choice. That is whether the candidate running for city council, or every four years, the candidate running for mayor, is the right person," said Engen.
So in this race, the challenger says term limits promote objectivity, the incumbent says they foster ineffective government.
Potholes and plowing are top of mind for voters as they go into this election.
The candidates share their views on Missoula's roads Friday.