Although only one candidate apiece is running for council position in Wards 1 and 3, the Belgrade City Council on Tuesday decided not to appoint them to the positions by acclamation and instead have their names appear on the ballot in November.
State law would have allowed for the council to cancel both races, remove the names from the ballot, and by acclamation appoint those solo candidates to their seats.
"It would still be possible for there to be a write-in campaign in a fairly short period of time to make a difference, but this is strictly the council's choice," said City Manager Ted Barkley shortly before the council dismissed the idea of appointing without taking a vote on the proposed resolution.
Renae Mattimoe is running in Ward 1 and Martha Sellers in Ward 3.
Mattimoe filed as a write-in candidate on Aug. 30, the official write-in deadline. The Belgrade News was unable to reach her for comment before press time; however, the newspaper did save her responses to a 2019 candidate questionnaire when she ran for the Ward 1 seat now held by Mike Meis.
Mattimoe wrote that she was the office manager for the family's Classic Auto Transport & Sales, and that her family had moved here in 2001.
She is the mother of six boys and a girl. Her Linkedin profile lists her as "An Authority on Nonsense." She was elected to the Belgrade School Board in 2012, where she served one term. She unsuccessfully ran for school board again in 2018.
Mattimoe's 2019 questionnaire said she thinks one of Belgrade's most pressing issues is "its explosive residential growth. Finding fiscally responsible solutions ... a lack of a large business base puts the cost of this growth back onto the individual taxpayers." She added she wants to get new residents involved with community activities. Since 2003 she has been the local liaison with the Missoula Children's Theatre, helping local kids "find their voice."
MCT is the reason she dyes her "hair in a rainbow of colors, to match the sets."
Martha Sellers, the lone Ward 3 candidate who filed prior to the June 21 deadline, is development manager for the Montana Wilderness School in Belgrade. She, too, did not respond to requests for comment from the Belgrade News prior before press time.
On a YouTube video posted by Gallatin Democratic Party, she says she grew up in Minnesota, spent four years in Yellowstone National Park, and relocated to Belgrade in 1998.
She remarked that it said a lot about Belgrade that it passed its last three school levies.
"That's monumental," she said.
She also favors Belgrade's efforts to build a new library.
"As the daughter of a librarian, it's important for a young community.
"Belgrade is growing by leaps and bounds, but it's still not where we work or spend our money." Sellers said she'd like to see a vibrant downtown, "instead of having to go somewhere else."
She said she is also attracted to the fact that the council races are non-partisan.
"That's important to me; I'm more interested in that type of problem-solving," she said.
The third council race on the November ballot is in Ward 2 (see related stories). Incumbent Kristine Menicucci is being challenged by Eric Reinhardt for the four-year term.
Menicucci has been in Belgrade for 30 years, and is the widow of the late Joe Menicucci, the city manager who died in 2013. She is running for her third term.
Reinhardt has lived in Belgrade for five years. Prior to that, he lived in Ennis for 12 years, having come from California and a career as a deputy U.S. marshal.
During Tuesday's meeting, the council briefly discussed whether it is time to redraw ward boundaries.
"There will be a point coming when it does make sense to change dividing lines for wards," City Manager Ted Barkley said. "I need to look and see what actually triggers that.
"When we get information from U.S. Census tracts, we'll have a better idea where."
The applicable Census data is expected around February 2022, Barkley said.
Belgrade's mayoral race also is contested. Roberta Foginthemorning is challenging incumbent Mayor Russ Nelson.