Incumbent Helena City Commission candidate Andres Haladay

Andres Haladay, for Helena City Commission 

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

Andres Haladay,

Age: 35

Address: P.O. Box 1535, Helena

Contact info: HaladayForHelena@gmail.com

Education: Juris Doctorate from University of Montana School of Law; B.S. in Political Science from CUNY – Hunter College

Occupation: Attorney

Relevant experience:  I’ve served as a Helena City Commissioner for almost four years.  My background in the law allows me quickly understand the myriad legal issues that come before the Commission.  In addition, I spent five years as a Montana Assistant Attorney General, representing the State of Montana on numerous topics that impact public entities.

Why are you running for this office?  

It’s been a pleasure and honor to serve as a commissioner over this past term.  I want to keep working to build on our successes.  The city has fundamentally changed -- for the better -- the way it sets rates for street maintenance, wastewater, water and storm water.  This has allowed us to budget for necessary infrastructure and make sure rates are fair to homeowners.  These changes have also taken into account the needs of Lewis and Clark County and the Helena School District, and recognize that Helena’s long-term success is dependent on the success of our local government peers.

We’ve seen the groundwork laid for economic development in the form of a Tax Increment Financing District in the Railroad District, and a Downtown Master Plan.  Our public transportation system has gone from one inefficient route to two fixed-routes. We’ve made great strides in non-motorized transportation, with the addition of Centennial Trail West, and put in place the funding mechanisms to pay for nonmotorized infrastructure into the future.  Helena has encouraged conservation and energy independence through tiered water rates and its sustainable energy loan program.  We won our long-running water rights case, and advocated for restrictions on exempt wells, which had been encouraging uneconomical sprawl around city limits.

I’m glad to have worked on and been part of these successes.  But their long-term benefits are only as good as the Commission’s willingness to keep them going and build on them.  I don’t want to see Helena retract back into regressive rate-setting or rest on our laurels.  Master plans and Tax Increment Financing Districts only work if you have commissioners that want to put in the time and effort to make them successes.  I want to keep working to make improvements today that will pay dividends in the future.  That’s why I’m running again.

What do you hope to accomplish in this office?

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There are three areas I’d like to see the city focus on over the next four years.  First, Helena needs to pass a fire service levy.  We have needed one for well over a decade-and-a-half.  This would provide funding for both personnel increases and a stable fund for capital improvements.  Our fire department does a yeoman’s job, but needs our help.  I think Helena residents would support such an ask.

Second, the  city needs to become a greater player in affordable housing.  This means rentals, home-ownership, and homeowner assistance programs.  There are already community organizations working on housing need assessments, and striving to provide housing services.  The city can support these efforts through land-use policies, land donations, financial backing or support and myriad other ways we have not tried yet.  An economically diverse community is crucial to Helena’s economic future.

Finally, I would like to see the city get a Tax Increment Financing District in downtown.  Many of the recommendations in the Master Plan rely on a source of money.  A TIF district offers that support.  Moreover, Downtown is our cultural and City center.  It houses some of our most valuable properties.  TIF money can support redevelopment of empty properties, like the old Blue Cross Blue Shield buildings.  It can provide a source of funding for historic preservation efforts and façade improvements.  Investing in our downtown is one of the best bangs for our buck.

Why should people vote for you?

I have the most experience in this race.  My understanding of the law and budget process puts me in the best position to take an idea from step one, and move it forward to a funded policy or final product.  As a professional with two kids, I don’t see this job as a retirement project or hobby.  My kids are going to inherit the work of today’s commission.  I’m looking for tangible results today, while focusing on laying the groundwork for Helena’s future.  I hope I can count on your support for another four years.

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