Councilman calls for Helena overhaul

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 2004

In a stunning move that challenged the usual image of politicians, a Helena city council member decided not to run for re-election and called for a completely new council and mayor.

Paul DeCarlo, a young and vocal member of the Helena City Council for the past four years, often criticized long-time incumbent Mayor Charles &uot;Sonny&uot; Penhale.

Early in this summer’s campaign season, DeCarlo sent a heart-felt letter to Helena residents and council members outlining the reasons he opposed Penhale’s bid for re-election on Aug. 24, along with reasons he is stepping down from the council himself.

According to DeCarlo, the two main reasons he wants an entirely new government in Helena are leadership and growth.

&uot;We need a new administration to bring some positive leadership and growth controls,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m hoping we can improve some things.&uot;

In particular, DeCarlo has thrown his support behind mayoral candidate Frank Park. He is supporting all-new candidates Don Sharpe, Adam George, James Jones, Barbara Hyche and Katherine Ennis for council.

DeCarlo’s complaints against Penhale include sewage problems that led to a fine by ADEM and Penhale’s tie-breaking vote for a controversial subdivision.

In response, Penhale remains steadfast in running what he calls &uot;a good, clean campaign.&uot;

Last week, he walked door-to-door delivering campaign literature and shaking hands.

Penhale said personal criticisms of other council members are not part of his campaign.

&uot;I’m not criticizing anybody in any way,&uot; Penhale said, noting that he would answer criticism of his tenure as mayor.

For Penhale, the City of Helena during the past several decades speaks for itself in terms of city leadership.

The city is heralded as the safest in the state with a population greater than 10,000 people.

New, starter homes are springing up, and commercial businesses are building in the city along highways 52, 261 and 31.

&uot;The word is out that Helena is a good place to live. We’ve grown in a positive way,&uot; Penhale said.