(HELENA) Heather O’Loughlin says she and her family moved to Helena three and a half years ago and quickly fell in love with the area. Now, she says she wants to give back to the community by serving on the Helena City Commission.

“I think I bring a unique perspective,” said O’Loughlin. “I’m a mom, I run a local nonprofit, I have significant experience in finance and budget work, and I think that’s an important perspective to bring to the city commission.”

O’Loughlin is the co-director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center, an organization that studies the effects of budget policy on low- and moderate-income families. She says that experience would be a strong asset on the commission.

“I think I bring that to the table, as far as really being able to dig into the city budget: How are we prioritizing our resources?” she said.

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O’Loughlin says one of her biggest priorities is expanding access to affordable housing in Helena.

“I think that we are fortunate that we’re not in a circumstance where housing is really out of reach for a lot of folks, but I think we’re approaching that,” she said. “I think there are things that the city commission can be doing, working with local partners.”

She also wants the commission to do more to encourage small businesses to relocate to the downtown area.

O’Loughlin is one of six candidates for two seats on the Helena City Commission. She is running as part of a self-described “progressive slate,” along with incumbent Commissioner Andres Haladay and mayoral candidate Wilmot Collins.

“I think our unique experiences and perspectives work well together, talking about what community members really hope to see in this city,” she said.

You can watch MTN’s full interview with O’Loughlin above. Interviews with the other candidates running for Helena and East Helena city offices are available here.

Ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 18, and must be returned by Nov. 7.