Bozeman City Hall

A look at Bozeman City Hall on Rouse Avenue.

Until a quarter to five Monday, it looked like Commissioner Chris Mehl might just end up running unopposed in his bid to win election as Bozeman’s mayor this fall.

Then Jeff Krauss, the city’s on-again-off-again mayor, who’s sat on the commission since 2004 and is currently halfway through a four-year term he won in 2015, sauntered into the county election office.

“I’m here to protect democracy,” he said wryly, after asking if the mayoral seat was unopposed. Then he asked for a candidacy form, filled out a check for the $216 filing fee, and sat waiting — hoping, he said, that someone else would step up to the counter by the 5 p.m. deadline.

The other two seats open this fall on the city’s five-member commission already had competition — five candidates between them, not quite the seven-candidate threshold that would trigger a primary before the municipal election Nov. 7. But Krauss, said, the single-option situation for mayor had him worried.

Then Brian LaMeres, a longtime employee in the city finance department, inched into the room carrying a manilla folder with his own mayoral paperwork. The two men exchanged looks, briefly encouraged each other to file, then hustled out of a reporter’s earshot to sort things out — LaMeres ultimately sliding his papers to a clerk.

That leaves Bozeman voters with two mayoral candidates and five commission candidates come November.

For the mayoral seat:

Mehl, a two-term city commissioner who works as a policy director at Headwaters Economics. When he filed for office in April, he said he wanted to help maintain Bozeman’s high quality of life as the city grows.

- LaMeres, a financial controller with the city and the chair of the city’s affordable housing advisory board. After filing Monday, he said he has some ideas for ironing out some city issues and that he thinks it’s important for the public to have an alternative in the race.

For the two open commission seats:

- I-Ho Pomeroy, a one-term commissioner who runs I-Ho’s Korean Grill. She said this week that she’s seeking re-election so she can continue advocating for housing affordability and also work to protect open space and farmland.

- Doug Chandler, the president of Allied Engineering and a longtime member of the Bozeman Sunrise Rotary. He said when he announced his candidacy in April that he wants to bring his business experience to bear on infrastructure planning and look at promoting housing affordability by streamlining development regulations.

Terry Cunningham, who runs a sales promotion agency, served on the Bozeman Health hospital board for eight years and is the executive director of nonprofit Run Dog Run. He says he wants to help families thrive in Bozeman, citing ideas like building workforce housing on land owned by the hospital or Montana State University.

- Matt Saporito, an entrepreneur whose company, Brick Bound, produces leather bags and wallets and who also holds a real estate license. He said he wants to bring a younger perspective to the commission.

- Heide Arneson, a current Bozeman School Board trustee and Air Force veteran who teaches aviation meteorology at Gallatin College. She said she wants to bring her 10 years of experience on the school board to bear on city governance, focusing on collaboration between government entities.

Bozeman’s mayor serves as the chair of the city’s five-member commission, presiding over meetings and performing some additional duties like appointing some members of the city planning board. The successful mayoral candidate in this fall’s election will spend two years as deputy mayor and then serve two years as mayor.

Krauss and Deputy Mayor Cyndy Andrus both have two years remaining in their terms, with Andrus slated to pick up the mayor’s gavel in January as Carson Taylor completes his mayoral term.

Eric Dietrich can be reached at 406-582-2628 or edietrich@dailychronicle.com. He is on Twitter at @eidietrich.

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