Will Missoula Elect Its Second Female Mayor in ’23?
There's still a lot of campaigning to come, but Andrea Davis' first-place finish in last week's Missoula municipal election has history buffs considering whether she could become just the second woman to serve as Missoula mayor.
In unofficial totals from Tuesday's voting, Davis moved in front of the race, capturing 44 percent of the vote, with Councilman Mike Nugget second, as incumbent Mayor Jordan Hess was knocked out of the runoff in November.
This may be surprising in a city with such a liberal reputation, but Davis would only be the second woman to fill the mayor's seat if she repeats in November, and the first in 76 years.
Missoula's first, and only, woman mayor
The distinction of being the first woman to run the city fell to Juliet Gregory, who was elected in 1947 and served for 24 months. She had been active in civic affairs, serving on different boards and commissions. She got inspired to run when the incumbent mayor had rebuffed her idea to organize local engineers and professionals into a "planning board" to help plan Missoula's future.
In a 1979i interview, linked below, Gregory explained how she had to get an attorney when questions arose over the legitimacy of her petition and filing to get on the ballot for an election she eventually won with a strong 78% turnout. During her term, she worked to get more women in city management positions and even led a campaign to clean up prostitution.
After serving, she'd go on to be a key figure in Republican politics and other community activities for years. Although other women have run in the past, no one was able ever to claim victory on Election Night in Missoula.