Billings has a new mayor.
Bill Cole won nearly double the votes of his opponent, former Republican state lawmaker Jeff Essman. Cole has focused on drawing young people to Billings and turning it into the kind of city where people want to stay.
"I was a little afraid that my message would scare off the voters, but i think it resonated powerfully," Cole said.
Cole has called for more parks and trails and more downtown revitalization. Essman had criticized the costs associated with those proposals and possible tax increases to pay for them.
Voters, however, responded, with a final margin of over 7,000 votes in Cole's favor.
"The voters were well served in the end because (Essman's) presence allowed the voters a choice," Cole said. "It wasn't just a popularity contest, it was a choice between these varying visions."
Cole said that although Billings already has a diverse economy and a large 25-40 year-old population, there's more to be done to attract people who can take their skills anywhere.