Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'Infill' Critic Wilkins Wins in Ward 4


Retired construction work Jon D. Wilkins, a critic of efforts to build more housing in existing Missoula neighborhoods, edged two-time candidate Tim Lovely to take the Missoula City Council seat in Ward 4.

Wilkins garnerd 1,125 votes to 1,014 for Lovely, who lost a race for the same ward two years ago.

“Well, I was surprised it was that close to tell you the truth,” Wilkins said after the results were announced. “I just thought I would beat him by more.”

Lovely, who also lost a legislative race in 2004, was philosophical in defeat.

“I wish the results were different, but you got to accept them for what they are,” Lovely said.

Wilkins cited his involvement in neighborhood issues as the main reason he won.

“I have been fighting for Ward 4 for at least three years,” he said.

Lovely disagreed with Wilkins’ assessment.

“There probably was a lack of information in the hands of voters,” Lovely said. “I think a lot of folks were voting without knowing about the candidates.”

He said he did as much as he could to get his message out but "[t]here’s only so much time in the day.”

Wilkins said his passion for representing his area was an advantage.

“Tim’s an all right guy but I never thought his heart was really in it,” he said. “He didn’t get involved in neighborhood issues until he announced his candidacy.”

One of those issues was how to handle Missoula’s growth. The candidates offered different opinions.

“As for the infill issue in established neighborhoods, he was all for alley houses and I’m all against alley houses,” Wilkins said.

Tuesday's win marked a successful end to the 57-year-old Wilkins’ first campaign for public office. The Great Falls native moved to Missoula in 1978 to work construction but was forced into retirement in 1991 after losing a leg in a work-related accident. He has been the president of the Lewis and Clark Neighborhood Council for three years.

The 53-year-old Lovely, a self-employed contractor, has worked for the local Democratic Party, but he has yet to hold public office.

Lovely said he couldn’t rule out running again.

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