Fire department training

Billings Fire Department staff members learn all of the systems on the new 100-foot ladder truck at Fire Station Number One in this February 2016 file photo.

The Yellowstone County elections office will mail about 47,000 ballots today to registered voters in four of Billings' five City Council wards. The ballots must be voted and returned to the elections office no later than Sept. 10 to be counted.

This is a primary election because of the large number of candidates who filed for these important community offices. The Sept. 10 primary will winnow the field to two candidates in each ward who will proceed to the Nov. 5 General Election. Ward 3 has only two candidates, so both will be on the General Election ballot and no primary will be held for that ward.

All other wards have three or more candidates in the primary. Matthew J. Senn's name will appear on the Ward 4 ballot, along with five others, but he notified The Gazette that he is no longer seeking the council seat.

Today, the opinion page features Gazette survey responses form Ward 5 candidates Jennifer Merecki, Mike Boyett, Frederick Wilburn and Dennis Ulvestad. Leilahni Kay's name also will be on the Ward 5 ballot; she did not respond to Gazette email or phone messages. The winner of the Ward 5 General Election in November will succeed Councilman Dick Clark in January.

The Gazette invited each candidate in all five wards to participate in a survey that included the four questions below. They were instructed to limit answers to 600 words in total. Surveys from other ward candidates are posted at billingsgazette.com.

1. What is the most important issue for residents of your city ward and what will you do to address it if elected?

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2. The city’s annual budget is being balanced by using reserve funds for a portion of police and fire department costs, but this funding is unsustainable after next year. What should the City Council do to ensure adequate public safety services for Billings’ future?

3. What are your priorities for Billings’ city parks, trails and public lands? How will you work for those priorities on the council?

4. What role should city government play in promoting economic development?

Meet candidates

On Friday, Forward Montana will host a meet and greet for all Billings City Council candidates from 5 to 8 p.m. on at Thirsty Street Brewing Co., 3008 First Ave. N.

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