Q. What are the most challenging economic growth issues facing Kalispell, and what solutions do you propose for handling growth?
A: There is concern in our community about urban sprawl and the challenges that come with it. One solution is to encourage growth within the city limits by effectively competing with the county for a hospitable business and growth environment. The state and federal government place their fingers on the scale to the advantage of counties — often creating unfunded mandates which make it harder for municipalities like Kalispell to compete. Combating these unfunded mandates can make Kalispell more competitive and discourage sprawl. My goal is to work towards an environment that maintains services but is aggressively searching for cost savings business and smart growth environment. We want this growth to happen within the city, leaving the surrounding areas natural and beautiful.
Q. Is the city of Kalispell doing enough to address affordable housing and increasing the city’s housing options?
A. As a regular attendee of council meetings, I have seen our city government work to ensure that multi-family developments are encouraged and moved forward. These include mixed-unit types — apartments, duplexes and single-family homes. The housing market will right itself as developers build housing that is in demand, and as mixed units are produced, people will have the opportunity to move to the next affordable level, which allows more diverse, available units. I am confident that the city is setting the right course. Subsidized housing has proven to have the opposite of the desired effect on an area, instead disincentivizing new construction and raising existing dwelling prices — though the intent was altruistic, these policies have never worked. The path to affordable housing at all income levels is to let the market go and not interfere. Support of nonprofits in this area has much better results than government programs.
Q. What are Kalispell’s biggest infrastructure challenges, specifically regarding streets and utilities?
A. Our very talented city staff that has made Kalispell a rare exception, allowing us to stay ahead of the curve thus far. The relationship between government and infrastructure too often results in slow and reactive government, playing catch-up to a perpetually crumbling infrastructure. Aside from working with the development community to ensure that planning and development create a positive growth environment, I would also encourage the city to continue to stay ahead of infrastructure deterioration by exploring innovative and cost-effective alternatives that reside outside the box of traditional solutions. For example, there is a company that is marketing an alternative water treatment process that converts wastewater to potable water in a cost-effective way using cavitation technology that uses no chemicals. Exploring new innovations like this is one way we can succeed.