Mark Egge, City Commission

Mark Egge is running for an open seat on the Bozeman City Commission against two other candidates.

A transportation planner running for Bozeman City Commission said it’s time city leaders do more to get people access to stores close to home and safer routes to walk or bike.

At 33, Mark Egge has lived a few lives when it comes to his work. He’s been a manager for a pain management group, a business co-founder and now a data analyst.

Egge said his background qualifies him to be a leader on the five-person body making decisions for the growing city. He’s one of three commission candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot.

“The commission decides the transportation options we provide, the distance between destinations and connectivity. They set the rules that build the city,” Egge said. “That’s what I spend most of my time focusing on, professionally but also personally. The way cities get built and the livability impacts of that.”

Raised in Wyoming, Egge arrived in Bozeman in 2004 to study history and economics at Montana State University. He left town after graduation to find work. That led him to Arizona Pain Specialists, where he oversaw staff in several of the company’s centers.

In 2012, Egge moved to Colorado and co-founded a medical business services company, which is still in operation.

“It was the grand scheme, own a small business, climb, ski, mountain bike and run,” Egge said.

But he said the demands of running a small business meant he either had to give up his hobbies or move on.

Egge sold his share of the business in 2015 and entered a data science program at Carnegie Mellon University. There, he worked with the city of Pittsburgh on on-street parking through 2016 where he realized he liked helping agencies plan for the future.

Egge found his way back to Bozeman as a data scientist with High Street Consulting, where he works remotely as a transportation planner.

He has served on the city’s planning board and parking commission. He’s also on the NextGen Advisory Board, a group of young professionals with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

He said Bozeman’s rules need to change to encourage development that brings housing, jobs and retailers closer together.

Bozeman has zoning in place for commercial nodes that encourage businesses to set up close to neighborhoods. Egge said those pockets aren’t creating a connected city fast enough.

Egge is advocating for more flexibility in Bozeman’s zoning that require buildings to match their surroundings in height and style without mandating use. He said that gives small businesses like a daycare or coffee shop the chance to set up in neighborhoods.

“In a healthy community, no neighborhood and no part of town should be exempt from change,” Egge said.

He said another way the city can keep growth inward is by signaling it doesn’t plan to annex land until Bozeman’s blank spaces are filled. He said that will help conserve the land around town.

Egge said Bozeman needs to act as a leader in climate change by adopting an action plan for 100% carbon-free energy and cutting the town’s greenhouse gas emissions through more bus routes and a bike network.

His campaign maps out a bike path that connects downtown to Montana State University, Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Cannery District, Sacajawea Middle School and Eighth Avenue. Some of that plan comes from Bozeman’s 2017 transportation plan and the city’s downtown improvement plan.

“In the absence of somebody getting involved and advocating for this, I don’t think it will ever happen,” Egge said.

The money for the effort could come from scaling back projects to expand Bozeman’s roads, Egge said. That includes a project to expand sections of Kagy Boulevard from two lanes to four.

Like other candidates, Egge called affordable housing the town’s most pressing issue. He wants to see the city cut down its processing time for building permits and simplify its development review process.

He also said the city should cut barriers to building accessory dwelling units — small apartments often built close to a property’s main house by eliminating off-street parking and cutting down the rules on where the homes are built.

“I really care about this place and I want to see us grow well,” Egge said.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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