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Election 2021: Meet council candidate Andy Feury

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | October 20, 2021 1:00 AM

Andy Feury has already amassed more than two decades serving in Whitefish city government and he is looking to continue.

Feury is one of two incumbent City Council members seeking reelection in the race. He’s taken a few breaks here and there but has served 22 years with the city marking seven of those years as mayor and the remaining on City Council.

“I still enjoy it,” Feury says of the reason he’s running again. “I think I still have something of value to bring to the community. I have a historical perspective and when the wheels of government turn slowly it’s important to know why we started out in a certain direction.”

“I think I have a sense of where we’ve been, where we are and where we should be going,” he added.

Feury, who is married to wife Terri, runs a wood-based manufacturing business in Asia and manages his family’s farm and beef operations in Montana and North Dakota. Feury is a graduate of Flathead High School and the University of Montana in economics.

Having served years on Council, Feury says he’s seen his opinions shift over time.

He points to the Council’s more recent decision to move the city’s urban growth boundary south to Blanchard Lake Road as an example. The shift means that at some point properties to the south of the current city limits could be annexed into the city.

“Twenty years ago I would have said there was no way we should have done that, but times change,” he said. “We have a county that has a different view of development than we do. We can complain about what’s going on out there or we can find a way to guide it in the right direction.”

How the city is handling the growth of the town is often a topic of coverations. Feury says the city doesn’t so much manage growth as it looks to direct growth.

“We can’t stop all growth,” he said. “We try to direct growth to where it should go and we try to do that through planning and zoning, describing what should be where.”

In addition to a growth in population, the city has seen an increase in visitation. Feury says dealing with growth in that area is a reason why he supports the continuation of the city’s sustainable tourism management committee.

“We need to manage the sheer volume of visitors we have and make sure that we can all still have a smile on our faces,” he said. “I want to make sure that we continue to be a super welcoming place.”

Dealing with a lack of affordable workforce housing is an issue that has been at the forefront in Whitefish for years. In recent months, Council has been looking at regulations regarding short-term rentals and Feury expects that will assist some with the issue.

However, he says the solution for creating affordable housing will likely need to come from a private-public partnership. He points to a list of successful type projects that include the WAVE, the O’Shaughnessy Center, Smith Fields and the Stumptown Ice Den. In terms of affordable housing, he notes the Alpenglow Apartments were created by the city, the Whitefish Housing Authority, along with nonprofit assistance and support from a private landowner.

“There’s a long list of great public-private partnerships here,” he said. “That’s how we’re going to address housing.”

“I’m proud of the great projects that we’ve done and that makes me think we can do anything,” he added. “Housing is one — we are going to get that done.”

Regarding the city’s resort tax, Feury supports the renewal of the tax saying it collects money to pay for the infrastructure needs of the city that are directly impacted by visitors.

“It makes zero sense to not have a resort tax to go toward things that are impacted by visitors,” he said.

In terms of adding the Whitefish Trail for a future area where money will be allocated for maintenance of the trail, he says that makes financial sense.

“The city owns the easements for the trail and it would be irresponsible not to provide a way to pay for the trail in the future,” he said.

Feury says while he can’t take sole credit for projects during his tenure with the city, he is most proud that as mayor he supported the plan that eventually became the Whitefish Trail system, and spurred later conservation efforts in Haskill Basin and Trumble Creek.

“I went out on a limb to champion that project,” he said. “That’s a legacy project.”

There are nine candidates on the ballot running for three seats on Whitefish City Council. They include Phil Boland, Giuseppe Caltabiano, Ben Davis, Vincent Dell’Omo, Andy Feury, Judy Hessellund, Terry Petersen and Kristen Riter. Mark Owens’ name also will appear on the ballot, but he has withdrawn from the race. Mail-in ballots are due to City Hall or the Flathead County Election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 2. For ballot information, call 406-785-5536.