Saturday, June 15, 2024

Head to the polls and make your vote count

| November 5, 2023 12:00 AM

Looking over the ballots for Tuesday’s election we are impressed with the number of candidates looking to serve their communities through public office. 

All but one of the races for city council spots in Flathead County are contested. This means voters have a great opportunity to select candidates they feel will best lead their communities through the many issues facing their respective city government. 

It might not get the attention of state and federal elections, but these ballot choices are not to be ignored. There’s no place more than local government that impacts our daily lives. 

These candidates will become the decision-makers who determine which potholes to repair, set water rates and define budgets for public safety, among other important topics. Councils are tasked with shaping community growth and directing future land use planning — both areas that have drawn greater attention as the Flathead Valley’s growth has increased substantially in recent years. 

Before making a selection on a candidate, we implore voters to seek out past issues of the Daily Inter Lake or visit our website at to find stories on the candidates for Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls. 

Voters in Whitefish will also decide on a proposed change to the city’s resort tax that would allow for 10% of the tax to be designated specifically for community housing development projects and programs starting Feb. 1, 2025. The city estimates that over 20 years this could generate about $27 million.

If you received an absentee ballot, remember it’s too late to drop it in the mail. Instead, take it to the Flathead County Election Department or your polling place on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Also, ballots are due on the Marion School District bond issue. The school district is requesting approval of a 20-year bond at $8.2 million to accommodate growth. 

The rural K-8 school district has seen a 61% increase in student numbers in the last 10 years. “We’re kind of at an impasse where we want to provide the best we can for our kids, but we don’t have the space to try at this point,” Marion Principal Julia Maxwell told Inter Lake reporter Hilary Matheson in September in explaining the reason for the bond request. 

The school is looking to fund the construction of classrooms and bathrooms, a cafeteria/commons area, main office, a secure entryway and kitchen expansion. It also plans to expand and rework the parking lot. 

Ballots should be dropped off at the school. On Election Day the office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.