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Coburn, Woods apply for vacant Bozeman City Commission seat

Posted at 12:47 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 14:47:29-04

BOZEMAN — Last fall, 20 Bozeman residents from a variety of backgrounds applied for the vacated Bozeman City Commission seat after former Mayor Chris Mehl resigned.

This time, only two people applied for another empty seat and they’re some familiar faces.

Community health professional Christopher Coburn and former Bozeman legislator and Montana State University physics professor Tom Woods were the only two to apply for the vacated commission seat last month.

On Tuesday, commissioners are slated to appoint an applicant to fill the term through the end of the year.

Coburn, who serves on the Gallatin City-County Board of Health, says his background in public health can help bring a unique skill set to the Commission, and he can also bring the perspective of what it’s like being a younger resident in town.

“There’s also a lot of people who are close to my age in this community who don’t see themselves, who don’t see their experiences currently represented on this Commission,” said Coburn. “I think that will do a lot for the engagement of our community.”

Coburn also says he’s also uniquely positioned to dig deep into Bozeman’s affordable housing crisis.

“I’m also somebody who rents their home. I rent my apartment and we don’t currently have that perspective of somebody who is directly impacted by one of our biggest challenges, which is affordable housing.”

And Bozeman’s affordable housing crisis is also a top concern for Tom Woods.

“We don’t have affordable housing. And until we have affordable housing, we’re not going to have diversity,” he said.

Woods, who termed out of the Montana legislature, says he’s eager to dip his toes back into public service.

“As a state legislator I understand what it’s like to try to balance interests. To try to listen to a lot of different perspectives on very complicated subjects,” added Woods.

“ I like complicated. I teach physics. I like complicated.”

This November, there will be a two-year commission seat on the ballot, as well as two full four-year city commission seats. There will also be an election for the Mayor’s term.

Both Coburn and Woods told MTN News they intend on running for one of the Commission seats this November, no matter if they are appointed or not.