Jennifer Merecki, Ward 5 candidate


1. The biggest issue I hear is public safety. I would support a framework for using community-local government partnerships to reduce crime, assist the fire and police department to acquire the equipment and personnel to do their jobs effectively, activate the city to address public incapacitation and work to offer more substance abuse services. This framework includes recognizing crime and safety as a quality-of-life issue, working across jurisdictional boundaries, recognizing the crucial role of political leadership and proper budgeting, and developing tools and measures of success that involve the community. 

2. Sustainable funding must be created. The time has come to introduce and pass a public safety levy in the near future to ensure the fire and police departments maintain the staffing that is required and to keep up on their facility/equipment maintenance and operational expenses. We also need to look at adjusting the mill levy amount as described in the City Charter that was constructed back in the early 1970s. 

3. Addressing natural areas, community separators, open lands and “connective spaces”, including the city’s connective network of trails, greenways, travel corridors, entryways and viewsheds is a high priority for me. I would like to work for championing great neighborhoods as a priority for the work of our city. Great neighborhoods and recreational opportunities contribute to a higher quality of life and greater investment in our economy. Every part of our commitment to our overall success and vitality will make Billings a great place to live, work, learn, and play.

4. Government leaders have an opportunity and the responsibility to promote the remake of economic development. To do that we need to adopt a broader, bolder vision of economic development that can deliver smart growth, continuous prosperity, and inclusion in Billings. We can be creative and committed leaders, embracing Billings version of economic security and well-being, that can be further scaled up with the right partnerships and open mindedness, benefiting all citizens. We, as civic leaders, owe it to our citizens to provide an atmosphere of opportunity.

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Opinion Editor

Opinion editor for The Billings Gazette.