In a three-minute meeting early Wednesday, the Missoula City Council voted unanimously to cancel the primary election in Ward 5, where incumbent Julie Armstrong is no longer in the race.
The resulting two-person field eliminates any purpose for a primary. The remaining candidates are John Contos and Alex Fregerio.
The city was notified Tuesday by county elections administrator Dayna Causby that Armstrong had not paid her filing fee by the required deadline and her name would be taken off the ballot.
Armstrong attended Wednesday morning’s special meeting of the council, but did not speak when council members were given the chance to comment on the motion.
The only public comment offered came from Alan Ault, a candidate for City Council in Ward 4, where there is a three-way race and a September primary election.
Ault said he opposes any primary because of the $41,000 expense, and wondered how many sidewalks and street repairs could instead be made with those dollars.
In a post on Facebook, Armstrong gave this explanation for no longer seeking reelection:
“When I found out that the mayor was intent on running a primary, I went to withdraw from the race because we have two good candidates there now. We (the City Council) voted on the primary on the same exact day that was the last day to withdraw from a primary, June 17th, making it impossible for me to withdraw. The only way to withdraw from a primary is to be disqualified, and there’s only three ways to be disqualified, not paying your fees, which I put a stop pay on my check: or moving out of your ward or no longer having a valid voter registration.
“Trust me folks I have the money to pay my fees that wasn’t the issue. I am glad however that there will not be a primary in Ward 5, as we will not be wasting $10,000 and having our candidates spend more of their own money to campaign. I feel confident that our citizens and Ward 5 can make up their minds in one election, and don’t need two.”
The remaining primaries include:
Heidi West (incumbent)
Gwen Jones (incumbent)