Community Organizer with Bozeman United for Racial Justice
Crisis Worker at the Warming Center and for the Haven and Help Center
Grassroots Organizer with Sunrise environmental movement
What would your top priorities be as City Commissioner?
Our core platform has been created through hundreds of interviews and conversations with our neighbors and fellow community members about what they struggle with in Bozeman. Affordable housing consistently sits at the top of this list, so creating structures that protect renters and shift our current policies to ones that develop housing that working families can afford will be central to our goals. Climate change is already here, we need to be taking radical steps to prevent its worsening while also preparing our rivers, forests, wetlands, prairies and urban spaces for the inevitable and potentially catastrophic effects of climate change that we will see in the near future. . .
Mental health care, especially for those in crisis, needs to be left to professional crisis workers and social workers in our community. This has been a recurring concern from folks in our community and we want to make sure we properly fund those services to keep our communities safe. Affordable and accessible childcare is another top concern of our campaign, we want to ensure that nobody has to decide between staying in this community or leaving because of the cost of childcare. Working families invest their energy and time in this community and we need to ensure they have access to the care their children need.
Why should MSU students vote for you?
The primary focus of our campaign is about livability in Bozeman. Whether that be housing costs, childcare expenses or climate catastrophe, we need to be taking bold, innovative steps to protect the livability of our community. Whether you’re a student who plans to leave after graduation, who doesn’t feel college is for them and might leave school altogether, or if you plan to make Bozeman your home after college, you have a stake in young and bold representatives getting into office.
What issue should young Montanans be most concerned about?
All across Montana, and Bozeman in particular, we are seeing skyrocketing costs of living. We need to take a stand for young and working class people who make these communities vibrant who are, currently, having to ask themselves if they can even afford to stay here for another month. The rising costs of living and potential for escalating climate-change-induced disasters are huge concerns of mine, and I know many young Montanans that feel concerned, too.
Why did you decide to run for City Commissioner?
I've been a crisis worker, renter, service industry worker, and grassroots organizer in this community. I, and many others around me, have seen this city become a playground for the rich and powerful while those of us, primarily young, BIPOC, and working class folks, have to ask ourselves whether we can afford to stay here. And that needs to change. Young and working class people need representation in our government and we deserve a voice in guiding this community.
What are some steps you would take to help mitigate effects of the quickly increasing population of Gallatin County?
Currently, the city and county are growing at the expense of many of the people who call this place home. Retired residents on fixed incomes are being priced out, and young people who literally run our tourism economy are being priced out. We need to ask ourselves, “who is Bozeman growing for?” My primary concerns are focused on ensuring that our community grows and develops safely and equitably by shifting our current accountability away from developers to working class Bozemanites.
What plans and policy ideas do you have to help the Bozeman economy recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic?
My priority is the health and safety of Bozeman’s community. Compared to much of the country, Bozeman’s economy continues to thrive, but most of us don’t feel like it. The most important way we can keep ensuring that small businesses can keep their doors open is to ensure young people can afford to live here.
What are your favorite things about living/working in Bozeman?
I love the community in Bozeman. My time as a crisis worker and organizer in this community have helped me learn about myself, heal with others, and find a place I hope to be able to call home for a very long time. Beyond that, of course, the outdoor spaces that we get to enjoy in this community are something I will always struggle to consider leaving.
How do you plan to tackle the water crisis and the potential water shortage that may occur in the next 15 years?
We know that building more densely and building higher are less water consumptive. We also know that green grass lawns are a horrific misuse of our scarce water resources. I intend to follow through on creating incentives for people to xeriscape or zeroscape their yards or replace their grass lawns drought-resistant plants. We need to start developing our community for the future and focus on building higher housing structures.
How do you plan to create affordable housing for MSU’s college students and the Bozeman community?
In the short term, I want to prioritize the creation of a tenant’s union and tenant’s rights help-line to protect those that are renting, right now. Additionally, I want to create financial incentives for current homeowners to rent their spare bedrooms in an effort to make that option more attractive. If current homeowners, primarily young homeowners, were given incentives that make renting attractive enough, we could generate a considerable amount of new inventory to hold us over for more long-term solutions.
Current Bozeman City Commissioner
Community Planning Consultant
Community Food Co-op Board of Directors
What would your top priorities be as City Commissioner? Working hard to provide equity in access to safe and affordable housing, good jobs, health care, education, the outdoors, transportation and more. Making sure we don’t ruin what we all love about this place while simultaneously ensuring everyone has access to Bozeman’s high quality of life.
Why should MSU students vote for you? I love Montana and feel incredibly fortunate to live in Bozeman. Like many, I have struggled to make a go of it here. Student debt and housing have been huge challenges for me. I am acutely aware of, and dedicated to working on, some of our big-picture issues: housing affordability, rapid growth, sprawl, good jobs and workforce issues, community health and equity, drought, and making sure everyone’s voice is heard in city and state decision-making.
I have a master’s degree in community planning and have spent years working in various planning departments and on a variety of community projects. Planning looks at things with a big-picture focus, working with community members to build safe, resilient, and inclusive neighborhoods. We’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past and we need to work together to manage rapid growth and change, and ultimately, make sure Bozeman and the surrounding areas remain great places to live and work.
What issue should young Montanans be most concerned about? Rapid change.
Why did you decide to run for City Commissioner? My passion for Montana and Bozeman.
What are some steps you would take to help mitigate effects of the quickly increasing population of Gallatin County? First and foremost, we need to be thoughtful and comprehensive in all that we do. It’s important to make sure all voices are heard, that we work together, and that our decision-making and advisory bodies are made up of a diverse cross-section of our community. And while we need to focus on meeting present needs, we also need to keep our eye on the future. We need to pay attention to our water supply and water quality, air quality, housing supply and affordability, needs of small business and agriculture, transportation needs, and encouraging more opportunities to walk, bike and use transit.
What plans and policy ideas do you have to help the Bozeman economy recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic? We need to support our local economy. Shopping local, supporting our small businesses, and helping those who have been hit hard by the pandemic need to be community priorities. There are many local, state and federal resources out there. I’m committed to making sure we take full advantage of these resources like rental and homeowner assistance funds, help for our tribal governments and small businesses, and unemployment and employee retention programs. Community health needs to be the government's number one responsibility.
What are your favorite things about living/working in Bozeman? I love living in a community that cares. I love the outdoors, our mountains, rivers, wildlife, our small businesses, community gardens, our tree-lined streets, college-town energy, parks, trail systems, and our community pride and respect for others. I am grateful every day.
How do you plan to tackle the water crisis and the potential water shortage that may occur in the next 15 years? Water obviously is incredibly important, and we need to wise up as we witness communities throughout the west struggle with ongoing drought and water shortages. Water conservation is key, as are policies allowing compact neighborhoods, smaller homes, drought-tolerant and native plants, and reducing sprawl. We need ‘all-hands-on-deck’ when it comes to planning for our water future – city, county and state efforts need to be calculated and coordinated. Climate change is real, and we need to grow responsibly.
How do you plan to create affordable housing for MSU’s college students and the Bozeman community? We need to continue the tradition of providing affordable housing close to MSU, close to downtown, and close to everyday amenities like grocery stores, coffee shops, small businesses, gyms, yoga studios, schools, day cares, etc. Apartments can’t be our only answer to affordable housing. Promoting a variety of housing types in Bozeman allows more options for lower- and middle-income homeownership. There is not one solution that alone will solve this problem. We need a broad approach to solving our housing crisis, utilizing strategies like low-income tax credits, down payment assistance, community land trusts, employer-assisted housing, zoning reform, and more.
Service sector worker
Emily Talago and Evan Rainey submitted a joint questionnaire. Emily is running for the four year commission term and Evan is running for the two year commission term. The responses for these two candidates are selected from the same questionnaire.
What would your top priorities be as City Commissioner(s)? End development incentives that do not actually serve the needs of the community, strip the city’s development code of its inequitable and outdated mass and allow businesses and housing of all types to flourish; rebuild trust by actively, effectively, and meaningfully engaging neighborhoods; prioritize budget for back-logged maintenance over new projects; target support for those at risk of housing displacement.
Why should MSU students vote for you? We are young, passionate, and care deeply about our community. Emily is a cost burdened homeowner & Evan is a cost burdened renter. Together our views span left, right, and center. But by respectfully challenging each other’s views we’ve discovered the strength of our common ground and our belief in a unified Bozeman. We want to channel that for the public good.
What issue should young Montanans be most concerned about?
The city commission has almost no power over most issues young Montanan’s should be concerned about. Local government can't force people to flourish, but they certainly affect whether someone even can. Where we can remove barriers, we will.
Why did you decide to run for City Commissioner?
We live here, we work here, we love it here. We want to protect the community by preserving the integrity and economic viability of everyone making a go of it here.
What are some steps you would take to help mitigate effects of the quickly increasing population of Gallatin County? Work collaboratively with the county and other municipalities to bring the pace of growth more in line with the pace of growth’s necessitated infrastructure expansion.
What plans and policy ideas do you have to help the Bozeman economy recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic? Prioritize support where it is most needed. Overall Montana’s economy took one of the smallest hits from COVID, however we know that the most vulnerable have benefited from this recovery the least. We will shape our response chiefly towards these groups.
What are your favorite things about living/working in Bozeman? People!
How do you plan to tackle the water crisis and the potential water shortage that may occur in the next 15 years? The only solution is increased conservation measures. Theoretically, being a finite resource in a closed basin means at some point, there won’t be enough water for a population beyond a consumption cap. However, conservation widens that threshold potential.
How do you plan to create affordable housing for MSU’s college students and the Bozeman community? For students, I believe MSU has a responsibility to ensure adequate year-round housing for the students that need it. The city should support the initiative, but with 75% of undergraduates living off campus, ultimately the University needs to lead it. Our zoning overhaul proposals will allow more housing diversity and supply, leading to more affordable units and less rents overall.