BILLINGS - Billings Mayor Bill Cole announced Thursday morning at the Yellowstone County Courthouse that he will be running for re-election in the upcoming mayoral race later this year.
If Cole wins the September election, this will be his second term as mayor of Billings.
“It has been my privilege to serve as mayor for the last three years and three and a half months. In that time, we have accomplished some very good things,” Cole said during the announcement.
Cole said that community members have helped to navigate a worldwide pandemic and keep case numbers as low as possible in Yellowstone County.
“It has claimed more than 3 million lives worldwide, almost 600,000 in the United States, and 262 right here in Yellowstone County. Those numbers could have been even higher,” said Cole.
Cole offered his condolences to everyone who has lost someone to COVID-19 and referenced the personal loss of his sister-in-law.
Cole said that it is important that community members continue to take the pandemic seriously.
“The ship has not yet sailed into a safe harbor and we are not there yet. There is still the opportunity for this disease to take root and even though our numbers are down we are not home safe yet,” said Cole.
Cole said that it is important for everyone to get the COVID vaccine to prevent the further spread of the virus.
During his speech, Cole also announced that an $11.6 million grant has been secured for the construction of the Skyline Trail on top of the Rims and the inner belt loop.
Cole credits the completion of the trail and other projects to the newly hired city administrator for Billings.
“We have hired an experienced, level-headed city administrator, Chris Kukulski, who can steer the ship of city employees,” said Cole.
Cole also discussed the passing of the public safety mill levy and the construction of Centennial Park.
Cole said that if he is re-elected he is hoping to continue to build a team on the City Council. He said that his top priority, however, is getting through COVID-19 and then addressing public safety.
“Billings has a crime problem. Our crime rate has doubled in the last ten years and we need additional resources, but we also need to use the resources that we’ve got better than we are,” said Cole.