Wilmot Collins and the Politics of Plowing the Dang Roads

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins pictured here with his son Bliss

Helena’s Mayor Wilmot Collins started his term on January 2nd, 2018, in the middle of one of the worst winter snow seasons Helena had seen in 30 years.

Citizens were overwhelmed, business owners were frustrated, and city employees were at the end of their rope. Wilmot knew he needed to do something and make changes from the last city administration.

So, the first thing he did was jump in a city snow plow truck for a ride along and he asked the snow plow drivers what they needed. What changes they wanted to see.

The truck drivers asked Wilmot if they could start their shifts earlier when fewer cars are on the road. Done.

They asked if Helena could adopt winter “no parking” policies along the main roadways to help with snow removal. Done.

And the free towing of resident’s cars that mistakenly parked in the emergency snow routes. Done.

Helena sent out notifications to all residents about the snow plow policy changes. He even set up a City of Helena Twitter account to keep citizens up to date on their efforts and to help people know what roads to remove cars from. https://twitter.com/city_helena

So far in the winter of 2019, these new policies have made Helena’s streets better and safer than they have been in the past.

Wilmot came to Helena as a refugee from the country of Liberia in Africa. He didn’t experience much snow or snow plowing until he moved to Montana. He’ll admit he’s never really gotten used to the snow or the cold in Montana, but it’s his home. What Wilmot did, that seems so far removed from our elected officials these days, is he asked the experts what they thought would make for better snow removal policies along Helena’s winding and narrow streets. He asked the snow plow drivers.

These are just a few examples of Mayor Collins approach to governing. Hard Work. Listening. Transparency.

In Wilmot’s first year, he has opened up the city government to the people of Helena. He holds regular “town hall” style meetings at La Pa Grill every Wednesday for residents to ask him questions, to complain, or to let him know where they see improvements.

He uses social media to speak directly to the people of Helena and show transparency about the operations of their city government. He even did a Facebook live feed for his first ever State of the City address to Helena.

This style of governing is what the people of Montana want to see. An openness and genuine connection to the people and the issues they face.

This is far removed from what Senator Steve Daines practices as a representative of Montana. He dodges questions, he avoids the public with scripted telephone-town halls. He cuts his own taxes and the taxes of his millionaire friends while voting to take away Montanans’ healthcare and our ability to make a decent living. He follows every order from Senator Mitch McConnell like the lapdog of the Senate.

Daines could learn a thing or two from Mayor Wilmot Collins first year in office. You don’t have to be born in Montana and have shoveled snow for 50 years. You just need to listen to what people want and then go plow the dang roads.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Nathan Kosted


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  • Glad he asked the drivers BUT he cut the number of miles of snow emergency routes by from 70 to 10. Those 60 miles carry a lot of traffic and now are snow bound. I drive one of those miles every day and it is not good at all.

    It is called doing much much less with more money. Not sure the customer is being well served by this change even though the employees may be.

    • Given that even the emergency snow routes weren’t getting covered in past years, this has seemed like a huge improvement to me. I suspect if people are feeling dissatisfied with some of the changes, Mr. Collins would listen.

  • I don’t know where you live but snow removal on my end of 6th Ave has been stellar this year! In the past, we went weeks without seeing a snowplow go down the street. Now it’s almost every day that it snows. All the many streets I have used are well plowed and strategically sanded. I am very impressed!

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