By Sage Bennett
Chris Mehl, a current member of city commission in Bozeman, Montana, is one year and nine months into his second term. He says his mother (a nurse) and father (a priest) influenced him the most in his career.
“They were always helping the community,” he says.
Laughing, Mehl explains how he has a tolerance for sitting through long meetings and so it made logical sense for him to be involved in politics.
“You always have to give back,” Mehl says.
When asked about affordable community housing in Bozeman Mehl explains that affordable housing “reflects the people who work in Bozeman.”
“More people want houses than we have housing,” he says.
Mehl goes on to say that city commission is addressing but not solving the community affordable housing problem.
Mehl believes that religious freedoms and LGBTQ+ individuals should be protected in Bozeman.
“Religious freedoms are important,” he explains. “The government can’t discriminate against or advocate for religion,” Mehl says. “If you are open to the public you can’t select which people you sell or do not sell to or allow or do not allow into certain buildings.”
He then expands on this thought by saying if a church only allows church members to marry then they do not have to allow LGBTQ+ people to marry. Likewise if a church allows anyone to get married, members or not, they have to allow LGBTQ+ individuals to marry also.
Mehl explains how he prefers the name “Big Sky Country” over the “Treasure State” for Montana by saying “Treasure State” was our past and that was important but we have grown beyond that.
“Three farms can do what 30 did,” he says.
Mehl is very friendly and dedicated to helping and hearing Bozeman’s needs. He emphasizes he
“Would like people to call me more often, we (city commission) need to hear more from the community,” You can reach Mehl at (406)-581-4992.
By Justice Geddes
At Cardboard Box City on Oct. 3, City Commissioner Cyndy Andrus helped select the box designs that won artistic awards. I was there, and freezing, but it was impressive that she managed to fit in such active community involvement given her busy political schedule.
Andrus sits on the board of the Tourism Advisory Council, Montana Heritage Commission, and the Montana Arts Council, as well as two national boards and the Bozeman City Commission. Plus, she’s running for mayor.
Andrus is an obviously passionate woman, with a lot of energy and excitement about local politics (and cooking!), and a willingness to share and spread that passion to adult community members and students alike.
She says, “I believe students should care about the city commission because the decisions made impact your quality of life. Many of the things that you care about, like trails, parks, a swimming pool, climbing rocks, etc. are here because you have a city commission who believes these things are important and add to our quality of life.”
Andrus says city commissioner is the best job she’s ever had.
She has served on the Bozeman City Commission for the past six years, and, in combination with her service on numerous boards, thus has an impressive record of political experience.
Andrus believes she is best suited to be mayor because she “understands the process, the issues and [has] built relationships with people who [she] can work with to get things done.”
She highlights the commission’s recent record of success, and how it directly impacts students’ lives: “We passed a stormwater utility, which will clean up our stormwater before it flows into the East Gallatin River. This impacts wildlife, fish and recreation on the river. We passed a hands free/no texting while driving ordinance. This impacts safety.”
Andrus is also a huge supporter of more affordable housing in the Bozeman area.
“I believe a combination of subsidies, incentives, predictability and accountability will result in a successful affordable housing program. The time is now for affordable housing. We can not continue to kick this can down the road,” Andrus said.
Andrus lists affordable community housing as one of her most important goals if elected mayor–she thinks completing the current commission’s projects, including building a law and justice center, and facilitating job creation and growth, will be essential to her potential mayorship.
But perhaps even more important to Andrus is the teamwork essential to a good mayorship.
“Being mayor is not a solo journey, it is a team effort. That team is made up of the commission, the city staff and the community including all of you. As we consider many issues facing Bozeman as we grow (water, transportation, growth, infrastructure) working with other entities (the county, MSU, the chamber, schools, etc.) is critical and collaboration is key […] Bozeman is a very engaged community and every day I have the opportunity to talk to people about issues, and almost every day I see the impact of decisions we have make. It is gratifying and humbling work,” Andrus said.