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Mike Larson, a former two-term member of the Billings City Council, filed Thursday for the open Ward 3 seat.

Larson, 62, is regional supervisor for Adult Protective Services.

From 1996 through 2003, he represented Ward 5 on the Billings City Council. He’s currently a member of the city’s Zoning Commission.

He’s the first to announce for the open seat. Ward 3 councilman Rich McFadden is term-limited.

Larson was an unsuccessful candidate for the state’s political practices commissioner, a nomination that went to former Democratic lawmaker Jeff Mangan.

“It was interesting just to go through the interview process, which was very formal,” he said Thursday. “That job is kind of a challenge right now.”

He said Billings “is facing some real challenges going from a big small town to a middle-sized city,” he said. “There are some challenges to offering basic services. It will be an interesting time.”

He and his wife Tamara, who teaches at the Billings Career Center, live in Josephine Crossing, “and that’s a good example of an area that’s exploding in growth, and it’s served by two county roads,” he said. “The infrastructure is lagging behind, and I think we will see more and more of those challenges.”

The couple has three grown children and one grandchild.

Larson said he has fond memories of seeing the positive impact that council-approved projects can have on residents. Two he remembers from his earlier time on the council is work on Zimmerman Trail and road improvements around MetraPark.

“That is the part that I enjoyed — seeing the fruit of your labor,” he said. “In state politics, it would have been harder to see progress.”

In addition to seeing public safety resources being strained by growth, the current council is facing some significant transportation issues, he said.

“With the Inner Belt Loop and some of the smaller roads in the West End that serve significant traffic, we have some of those same challenges,” he said. “I have appreciated seeing people step up to the plate to work on bicycle and other transportation routes, and I’d love to see that accomplished.”

Police and firefighters are called on daily to handle mental health challenges, he said, “and I think most people aren’t aware of what’s going on there. All our systems are under some significant strain. Growth is wonderful, but it does bring challenges.”

The number of police officers in Billings, he noted, has not grown since his former stint on the council.

“There is work to be done in that arena,” he said.



City Government Reporter

City reporter for The Billings Gazette.