Danielle Egnew, a 48-year-old spiritual adviser, musician, producer/director and Billings native who is married to a local businesswoman, has filed for the mayoral race.
“My background is bringing together strong, diverse personalities to bring forward a workable, usable vision,” she said Thursday evening. “I just feel dignity and respect are important pieces to bring forward, because the goal will be the amalgamation of best ideas for our amazing, beloved community members."
Egnew married Rebecca Douglas in a civil ceremony in 2014. The couple reaffirmed their vows the following year.
Before she filed to run Thursday, “I talked extensively to my wife and our daughter (who is 12), and I still feel passionate about standing in the gap and embracing our city for what it is while helping it along into the 21st century,” she said. “It’s lucky that I work for myself and can set my own schedule.”
Billings, she said, “has always been absolutely accepting of who I am. I hope people will remember me as an amazingly trailblazing and competent mayor. But, if they remember me for being married to a woman, that’s OK. We have always been a love-and-let-live community.”
If elected she said her focus will be on “Billings as a growing community. I want to make Billings as functional as possible,” especially for first responders and public works functions, including residential snow plowing.
“We have far more people than we used to,” she said. “I have friends in the police department who say it’s tough to get to all the calls they’re called to. We can all participate in building a safe environment.”
Egnew went to college in Billings and the University of Arizona in Tucson, which she attended on a musical theater scholarship. She said it was years later, during her time living in Los Angeles and working as a producer and director, that she learned how to stay on budget and coordinate “a vast network of departments from production to marketing.”
She has owned independent record labels in Tacoma, Washington, and Sheridan, Wyoming, where “I wrote all the artist contracts and publishing negotiations. So though I’m perceived as a rather laid-back person, fine print, analyzing language and compromise through negotiation is a second-nature item for me. You just don’t survive 25 years in the entertainment industry without extreme attention to detail.”
She described the industry as “10 percent entertainment and 90 percent business.”
Although she’s never run for office, she called her candidacy “not a political issue. It is standing in the gap for dignity and the co-creation of a great community. If people don’t believe in that, I don’t know how we can move forward.”
The deadline to file for the mayor’s race or one of five council seats is June 19.