By LAUREL WALL-MacLANE and BRENNA MOORE
City Councilman John Engen, who defeated fellow council member Lou Ann Crowley Tuesday to become Missoula's next mayor, said he hopes to create more affordable housing and pass a new open-space bond issue in 2006.
"My hope is that (my campaign) made sense to people, and that people find me to be reasonable and practical," the 41-year-old businessman said.
Engen won with 60 percent of the vote to Crowley's 39 percent.
He received 7,458 votes to Crowley’s 4,775. Turnout for the election was 33 percent, compared with 27 percent in 2001.
Engen has represented Ward 1 on the Missoula City Council since 2001 and is chairman of its Plat, Annexation and Zoning Committee.
He said Tuesday he was optimistic about Missoula's future and his future as mayor.
“It’s good that Missoula is growing, we just need to make sense of it,” said Engen. “We need to make sure we have open space, clean air, clean water and rules people can understand.”
Engen also told Election Night well-wishers of his plan to pass an open space bond in 2006 and build more homes so people can have more comfortable lives.
By contrast, his opponent, a veteran representative from Ward 3, was clearly disappointed in the night's outcome.
“I’m really disappointed for my supporters, because my supporters were really excited to have me be mayor,” Crowley said.
Crowley also said Engen won because he collected large campaign contributions from builders and Realtors.
“He had a lot more money to spend,” she said.
Engen and Crowley differed on several issues during the campaign.
Engen has supported Missoula's leadership in a five-city bid to buy NorthWestern Energy and make it a a nonprofit, publicly owned utility, saying ownership of power distribution would give Montana more control over energy costs. Crowley has been skeptical of the plan, saying there are too many risks and unanswered questions.
Engen is also a proponent of building more housing close to the city center, making transportation less of an issue for Missoula residents. Crowley was generally more skeptical of "infill" development.