Assuming the final tallies are similar to the preliminary reports, it looks like Dona Stebbins will retain her position as our Mayor, and that Bill Bronson and Mary Jolley will take their seats on the City Commission. It might be true that the coal plant “split the vote” and allowed Dona to squeak in, but that wouldn’t mean that her election is any less official or credible than if she had won with 60% of the vote. Remember Bill Clinton? You know, the guy who became President of the United States with only 43% of the vote? Same thing. He was no less the President than Dona will be our Mayor.
And on the issue of the single-location voting: I think it’s a great idea, and encountered no problems. Others were not so happy, and I heard a few grumbles about people who had to drive a long way to get to the Montana Expo Park, to which I say: huh? Folks, Great Falls is not a large town – if voting is important to you, then a fifteen minute drive once every two years surely shouldn’t be too big of an obstacle. And if it is, for some reason, then you can always vote via absentee ballot – no driving at all!
And on the issue of single-issue candidates: yes, I’m looking at you, Mr. Lewin. You’re a smart man and have done your homework, but there is more to governing and leadership than a coal plant. Yes, it’s an important issue, but most people want a more “complete” candidate.
Media: the Tribune did the best job, getting the word out earliest and often. KFBB did pretty good, too, but still – as of 6:24 am – nothing at all on the KRTV website. And as Tim Austin pointed out in the comments, shame on all of the local media for not reporting on the Neighborhood Councils. And, to be honest, shame on me, too, for not discussing it…I’ll post information about the Councils periodically from now on.
Criticism: overall, I think the tone of the election and the debates was pretty civil, and that speaks volumes about our community. There were a few exceptions: some people began getting pretty personal in their attacks on candidates, such as denigrating some of them because they don’t have a college degree.
So. Not perfect, but no one ever said that it would be. I’m happy with the process and the results.
UPDATE: Trib is reporting nearly-final results.
DONA STEBBINS — 4,100 votes (40.7%)
ED McKNIGHT — 3,824 votes (38%)
SUSAN KAHN — 1,413 votes (14%)
LARRY H. STEELE — 704 votes (7%)
MARY JOLLEY — 5,148 votes (26.4%)
BILL BRONSON — 4,150 votes (21.3%)
DIANE JOVICK-KUNTZ — 3,582 votes (18.4%)
STUART LEWIN — 3,445 votes (17.77%)
ELNA HENSLEY — 2,069 votes (10.6%)