CHAMBER CONNECTION Bismarck-Mandan
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MIKE SEMINARY - MAYORAL CANDIDATE WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR MAYOR AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I want to see the successful implementation of the identified key areas and corresponding critical initiatives developed from our strategic planning efforts. The next 4 years of commission and community partners collaboration, will set the groundwork for the next 30 years. Successful implementation will require a knowledge and understanding of processes and delivery systems that can only come from direct involvement and knowledge of the process along with the investment of hands on experience. As a Bismarck commissioner with six years of roll up your sleeves and bring in the coffee pot teaming experience, I have the in-depth knowledge of the process used to arrive to this point, and more importantly, I have paid very close attention, and know how to move us forward. WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Bismarck is a rapidly growing city – it must be a safe rapidly growing city. Safety is very important. • Effective and efficient delivery of all services Bismarck citizens, and our visitors have come to expect. Efficient delivery systems are very important. • With dramatically reduced federal highway funds, how do we pay for badly needed “new” roads? Efficient transportation systems are very important. IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? First of all, Bismarck department heads and staff, across the board do a darn good job! That said, we have made great strides in how our community development and planning department provides its important services. I would like us to make more improvements in the time it takes to issue certain permits. Every year mother nature gives our builders and contractors about 100 days to deliver; new homes, roads, sidewalks, shopping outlets, restaurants, schools, other public buildings, home improvements, etc…. Every day we can shave off from our internal delivery systems will be well spent by generating revenue streams in our city. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? I have had many meetings and discussions about our funding mechanisms and how the current ones, and/or others might serve Bismarck as we grow. Options are briefly discussed in the (soon to be discussed and hopefully adopted) updated growth management plan. Bismarck residents have come to expect well delivered public services. Additionally , as a growing city we have “lists” of needs and those we can implement will require a funding mechanism. The next mayor and commission will likely have many “funding” discussions, and if I am Bismarck’s next mayor, I will ask for them. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? These are covered in our strategic plan and are a work in progress. --- there are many ranging from; • NDDOT for transportation planning. • Human/Social service agencies for addressing “soft-infrastructure” needs like: – Housing for our homeless – Meals for our hungry – Safe havens for our at risk populations – Health-care services for our needy • Other political jurisdictions for identifying delivery system(s) efficiencies. • Home builders association, BMDA, The Chamber and others to move forward the implementation of the updated Growth Management Plan.
DENNIS ROHR - MANDAN CITY COMMISSION
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? It has been an interesting experience working into the responsibilities of being a city commissioner for the City of Mandan for the last four years. I found the first four years to be one of learning about the many facets of city government in ways I did not experience when working as Chief of Police in Mandan for 22 years and working in municipal government for 42 years. This was especially true in learning about the portfolios I have: water treatment, waste water, engineering and public works. These areas of operations involve large funds and are essential to the health and well being of Mandan. I quickly discovered that there are many opposing views and citizen interests and the need is for the commission to balance these views and interests with the need to insure the overall well-being of our community. Mandan is growing and with this growth it is important that good foresight and planning allow for a healthy growth while avoiding problems in the future. There has to be a good balance between the need for citizens to pay taxes in order to receive services and keep our infrastructure viable while keeping costs and expenditures at a reasonable level. We currently have a very good working relationship within the city commission, while the competency level of the city staff is very good. I have strong desire and determination to serve the citizens of Mandan. But this is only one part of the task in fulfilling the role of being city commissioner. I have the time and interest to expand my knowledge of city business while striving to make informed decisions. I am willing to take the time to prepare for city business, planning and communicating with others. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • How we determine funding sources to keep our infrastructure in good condition while minimizing future expenditures through the use of good planning strategies. •
How we reduce city debt, keep taxes at an affordable level, and provide the needed services necessary to the citizens while addressing issues pertaining to growth.
How we insure that the growth of our city is reflective of having Mandan as the place where people want to live, work, and raise families.
HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? HOW DO YOU THINK THE CITY OF MANDAN SHOULD APPROACH SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS? In recent decades there has been an increasing dependency on funding from federal and state government to help pay for roadways, water projects, waste water projects and other major projects. Any cutbacks in funding from the Federal or State government can have a significant impact on local governments. The current trend is troubling. Federal and State aid can erode the local official’s accountability to voters, increases the public’s and the state’s dependence on the federal government, weakens incentives to restrain government spending, and even encourages state lawmakers to design and expand their spending to maximize federal aid to their states. The city commission must be acutely aware of any dependency we have on funding from outside sources and how that dependency impacts our budget applications. There is an advantage to obtaining funds from outside sources but a dependency can develop that enslaves the community to overly restrictive rules and regulations or takes away some self reliance on how our community develops. Simply stated: “One must be aware of the advantages and disadvantages in how we obtain funding”. In focusing on local taxes and revenue sources, there appears to be a debate on the value of using property taxes verses sales tax. There has be a balanced approach whereby people are not overburdened with taxes. As a city commissioner, I have some dependency on our finance department in their budget projections. I look to the demographics of people and businesses to see what the trends are. Special assessments can be developer driven or result from improvements, repairs, and special projects. I am for having a balanced approach with developers to keep city debt at a reasonable level. I am still studying and learning about the dynamics of special assessments. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? There has to be a working plan among the taxing governmental agencies (school, park board, county, and city) to allow for taxation that does not overburden the taxpayer. Realistically, these governmental agencies tend to be in competition with each other for the taxpayer dollar. Continued on page 3
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People can only afford a certain level of governmental services and it seems that this cost is always increasing. New schools, new park facilities, new jails and existing services require money. If one taxing entity reduces taxes, it seems to me that others, at times, see this as more room for expanding their fiscal programs. It becomes a perpetual challenge to try to keep taxes affordable. Therefore, local taxing governments and boards need to work together on spending priorities. We cannot overlook the fact that we are adjacent to Bismarck, whereby Bismarck’s policies and activities often reflect on what we do. Cooperation and resource sharing with Bismarck has its place. Yet, we must work on those issues that give us our particular identity.
SHAUNA LABER - MANDAN CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I am running for the Mandan City Commission position to serve my community and offer my time, effort, energy and attention to detail in this time of rapid growth and development within our city. I am well qualified for this position, as I currently serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the Comprehensive Plan’s Advisory Committee, both in a capacity to plan for the development and growth of our city. I have also been employed in a diverse realm of business, from abused child advocacy to manufacturing to mining and presently in utilities. I believe this diverse background has given me a depth of understanding in both the public and private sectors to act as an effective bridge in this role for Mandan. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Infrastructure: Effectively address and plan for the upgrades and/or replacements needed to maintain our aging infrastructure as well as planning for expansion which will place exponential pressure on the existing infrastructure. • Property Taxes: All taxes and funding mechanisms should be thoroughly reviewed prior to increasing the burden on the individual home or business owner. • City Services: As the backbone of our community, I am very interested in maintaining or increasing the quality of our Police, Fire, Schools, Parks and other services in the wake of ever increasing demands due to our current cycle of population growth. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? HOW DO YOU THINK THE CITY OF MANDAN SHOULD APPROACH SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS? The commission should look at all possible ways to fund infrastructure, including state and federal grants or cost sharing, including sales taxes or other mechanisms, leaving special assessments as the funding choice of last resort. Our community should look to our corporate partners and land developers to pay for their fair share of the infrastructure costs rather than transferring that burden to the city to bond and build. Mandan then must assess special taxes on the properties affected and manage the debt load. It may be a better, faster, and cleaner method to require the developer to simply put the infrastructure in place and add this cost to the lots for new or re-development. In the case of rebuilding or replacing existing infrastructure, I would like to encourage our city staff to look to other impact alleviation funds that may be available due to the income growth of our state before using our traditional funding mechanisms, such as taxation increases or special assessments to the affected properties. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? The city commission should encourage collaborative partnerships that establish mutually reinforcing or joint strategies. These partnerships should have a defined outcome, such as to develop necessary improvements or infrastructure needs in a target area (such as along Sunset, Collins , Main, or the Expressway). As a commission, I believe we should work closely with our city staff to encourage the best opportunities and outcomes between public and private entities within our jurisdiction and resources.
JOSH ASKVIG - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? It has been an honor to serve the City of Bismarck the last four years. Working with citizens to ensure that we have strong neighborhoods, quality infrastructure, and making Bismarck a great place to live and raise a family is a passion of mine. My experience over the last four years has taught me the importance of working with my neighbors and fellow residents to strive towards our vision of being “…a preferred destination place and prosperous community where people enjoy living, learning, working and playing…” I hope to earn their votes and trust again this election to build upon my positive record over the last four years. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Fully Implementing the Strategic Plan- It was an honor when Mayor Warford asked me to chair the City of Bismarck Strategic Planning process. Bismarck citizens, community leaders, and our local business leaders wrote the roadmap for our community. With well over 60 percent of the plan either substantially completed or started, we are on the right path to carrying out that directive. I want to see it fully realized. •
Growth Management- When your city is growing you have two choices, you can let growth happen and react to it or you can grow on your terms. For the last four years, I’ve worked to make sure that Bismarck grows on our terms. We have put together a new master plan for our growth and we need consistent leadership to carry it out. In particular, the City needs to work more closely with our partners in the building and trades communities to more clearly communicate the needs to ensure everyone can be successful.
Providing High Quality Public Services- I want to ensure we continue to have clean and beautiful neighborhoods, with adequate police and fire protection. As we grow we need to ensure the primary functions of local government- waste collection, water services, snow removal, etc… keep pace with our growth while not overburdening our tax base. I have kept my eye on the ball the last four years, supporting more police officers, asking for additional inspectors in our community development department to keep up with increased building permits, and pushing for changes to improve our services and reduce costs. Good public service is a vital part of any successful community.
IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? Planning- the City does a fair job of looking at the future but we can do better. Our Strategic Planning process has kick started our movement in the direction of more frequent, clearer, and consistent planning processes for all of our departments. One thing I have heard very clearly from our local business community is their desire to understand how and where we should grow as a community. We need to do a better job at ensuring the public and local community groups know what the plans look like and how they can be involved in helping us set that direction. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? During my tenure on the Commission, the biggest concern I have heard is that of special assessments and how we pay for the local portion of our infrastructure needs. Moving forward we need to examine how we fund necessary public improvements. With decreased federal investments in infrastructure, Bismarck needs to form an infrastructure investment task force, including local business leaders to study how we fund water, sewer, roads, and the other necessary investments to ensure our steady growth continues at a sustainable rate. The infrastructure investment task force would be charged with exploring how other communities fund public improvements, examining Bismarck’s current model for funding public improvements, and making suggestions on how Bismarck should fund them in the future. Done right we can create a model that is right for Bismarck and our businesses and citizens. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? Bismarck succeeds only when we have collaboration. I always push for public input and partnering with organizations and groups to ensure our public policy fits the needs of all of our community. I value the input groups like the Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood groups, and citizens provide on our policy making process. In fact, it is why, as the chair of the City of Bismarck Strategic Planning Committee I made sure we included a list of needed partners and collaborators for every goal and objective we are looking to achieve. Without partnerships and collaboration we will fall short of ensuring we meet our goals and vision. I will continue to advocate for public input and collaborative partnerships for all of our decision making processes.
KIM BADENHOP - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I want to ensure Bismarck maintains all the wonderful qualities I found when I chose to move here. The work of the commission is very similar to a previous employment where I worked with a team of six people who oversaw a two billion dollar operational budget. We evaluated contracts, ensured facilities were maintained and oversaw a police force. I am familiar with listening to constituent concerns, evaluating their requests and balancing them with needs and requirements, while thoughtfully managing taxpayer dollars. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? Road infrastructure, commercial development and residential development are the top three issues the commission should address. All three affect the entire city. Additional road infrastructure should be developed to alleviate increasing traffic. We need to encourage commercial growth in all geographic areas of Bismarck, with a focus on dispersing traffic, providing options in new areas of town while not losing a vibrant downtown. IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? I believe it is more of a focus, not an improvement. In a community growing as quickly as Bismarck, it is common to focus on immediate needs and immediate solutions, without thinking through long term impact. We will all benefit if city government focuses equally on long term impact, while addressing immediate concerns. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? Infrastructure needs pose unique, less frequent and often more costly expenses than day-to-day operational expenses. I would encourage the development of innovative public/private partnerships where and working with State Government for infrastructure projects. Relying on federal assistance is impractical given the current federal budget circumstances. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? In my experience, the private sector accomplishes goals far more efficiently and successfully than any county, city, state or federal government. Government can learn a lot from the private sector and should listen to them. Our country was founded on this fundamental principle. Partnerships with local businesses would greatly benefit the Commission.
STEVE MARQUARDT - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I want to be able to help the city of Bismarck with their growth issues as I have the school district the past Eight years. I think I would bring a asset to the commission and knowledge to help in many areas being President of the school board for two terms. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Manage growth in the city. As with the school district we had to manage growth. We brought in outside consultants and visited with the public our constituents, “ our bosses” to get an idea if we and the consultants were headed in the right direction before we moved on ask the question where is the city growing?
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Having enough staff and personnel to handle the growth. As with any growth you need to eventually look internal to staff and add if not you wont be effective if stretched to thin. This again requires communication with all departments to be successful. Either the city decide where to build or developers this requires communication and as on the school board I have helped bring all parties together and have that conversation.
IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? Communication with all involved keep public informed and listen to them yes tough decisions need to be made but they are easier when everybody is well informed. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? We would have to take a look at different funding mechanisms to utilize with some of the projects whatever they may be. It would have to involve communication with the public along with all parties at the table in a decision that would be best for the city. We on the school board have had those discussions at many different times for our major construction projects while keeping all departments up to date and involved in the process. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? We have partnerships already but we need to cultivate those and do a better job of communicating with everybody involved. While I was on the school board we made sure we were in contact with ALL entities when building a project and getting the best bang for everyone and working with park district to share space and work together with every body.
MYKA MILLER - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I am running for city commission because I want to get involved in my community and I feel that my generation needs to be involved in the decision making process. I am qualified in the fact that I am of legal voting age, I am a U.S. Citizen, resident of Bismarck and I filled my required 300 signature petition before the April 7, 2014 deadline. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? Three issues the city needs to focus on is the repairing of the infrastructure in the city like roads. Funding for such projects and public awareness of where their money is being spent. Funding for city employees including fire department and police department. Affordable housing ie.. property taxes. Protecting our residential areas and help keep them residential. IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? In my experience with politics this past year, I feel the city needs to improve the decision making process and as well trust other committees that were appointed by the city. The city needs to make informed decisions that have the best interest of all the people in Bismarck in mind. Our residents need not only to be listened to but they need to be heard, a thing I feel is lacking at times. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? We need to focus as a city on fixing whats here already, use local contractors for building and planning. Fixing our roads that are in existence but have been pushed aside for other projects, focus on quality of work not how much we pay for it, the cheapest bid is not always the right way to go. We as a city can not focus on building new elaborate things while our existing structures waste away in turn it ends up costing more money. No more frivolous spending of city money. Using the money we have for the betterment of the city as a whole not just one area. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? The city should be collaborating with other local governments to help improve our area as a whole. The city should also be collaborating with local builders and contractors for building and planning. No more out sourcing, we need to keep it local, North Dakotans know what is best for our state and city. Helping local business owners helps our city prosper.
NANCY GUY - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? First and foremost, I love Bismarck and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. In this period of unprecedented growth, it is critical that our city commission take a long view in every aspect of governance. We have only one opportunity to guide this explosive growth in a manner that retains and enhances the quality of life we cherish. My parents, former governor Bill and Jean Guy, believed in public service. They passed down to each of their children basic North Dakota values of community, integrity, accountability and thrift. They believed that you take care of today but still plan for tomorrow. I’ll apply those values to every decision I make as a city commissioner. My background as a small business owner, software development business consultant, consumer advocate and non-profit operations director uniquely qualify me to make the decisions facing our community. Whether it’s streamlining city government for efficient delivery of services, budgeting responsibly to hold down taxes, promoting a diverse economic base, ensuring a transparent local government responsive to the needs of its citizens, or caring for our most vulnerable citizens, my professional and public service experience combined with personal values are the right qualifications for the city commission. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Affordable Housing: Almost every issue, goal, and objective circles back to affordable housing. We are all affected by this issue. Artificial equity and higher property taxes caused by skyrocketing home values, a shortage of affordable homes to purchase, and rising rents are squeezing every age group and economic class. City government must do all it can to streamline their regulatory functions, while maintaining high standards, so the inventory of available homes and apartments catches up with demand. •
Maintaining a Diverse Business Climate: In order for our community to maintain a high quality of life that outlasts the current energy boom, we must do all we can to attract skilled workers to fill existing job openings and continue to attract business from all sectors. That means Bismarck must develop its own unique personality that makes families and businesses want to locate and stay here. In order to do that, we must address affordable housing issues, promote and support thriving arts programs, and continue to offer plenty of opportunities for recreation and high quality education.
Modernize City Government: Our local government must operate as efficiently and creatively as possible in order to deliver high quality services and hold down taxes. Currently, city government is staffed by talented, dedicated, hardworking individuals who have more work than they can handle. We must provide them with the right tools to work as efficiently and quickly as possible to accommodate our present rate of growth. The right tools are a mix of up-to-date technology, processes and staffing levels in order to stay ahead of the growth curve and creatively address strategic and growth plan goals and objectives. The key is to proactively direct growth rather than reactively respond to growth demands.
IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? Modernizing city government is the best way to address prosperity, quality of life, and growth while keeping taxes as low as possible. Up-to-date technology, appropriate staffing levels in city departments, efficient business processes, and agile reaction to demands on services are critical in maintaining and enhancing our community. We owe it to our tax payers to spend tax dollars as prudently as possible. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? City government should rethink the concept of special assessments for infrastructure. Private developers can build the below ground infrastructure, traditionally built by the city, “better, faster, cheaper” with the city ensuring quality through appropriate and timely inspections. The lower cost of that infrastructure is built into the cost of the lots. Developers, both small and large, can utilize short term bridge loan funding to accomplish this infrastructure build out. Quick response to the demands of rapid community growth requires collaboration with state and county governments to most efficiently leverage funding. Our current strategic, growth management and transportation plans are ambitious and visionary. City government must work closely with other government entities in order to accomplish those goals and objectives.
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WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? Attracting talented workers to fill current and future jobs was the chief goal and objective identified by joint strategic planning efforts of the Bismarck Mandan Chamber of Commerce and the Bismarck Mandan Development Association. The city commission must collaborate with these organizations to provide affordable housing and a vibrant quality of life which will attract families and businesses to locate, and stay longterm, in Bismarck. A community arts center is key to creating the unique community personality that draws workers and businesses to locate and stay in Bismarck. The city commission must partner with organizations like the Dakota West Arts Council to create and support an arts center that offers rich, diverse opportunities to participate in all the arts. The arts center is a key goal in the city’s strategic plan and fits well with the Downtown Sub-Area Plan. As our city and county experience unprecedented growth, it is imperative the two governments use every opportunity to collaborate by sharing functions and services. We can take advantage of economies of scale by sharing staff and technology in areas like human resources management, law enforcement and corrections, road building and maintenance, waste management, and planning and permitting.
DUANE POOL - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I am running because I have a fundamental belief in the system. This is not my first or only commitment to public service. I served two terms on the ND Judicial Conduct Commission and currently serve on the State Health Council. I have been a volunteer in the community for a variety of organizations, and as a family, we value volunteerism and community participation. Beyond belief in the system, I believe we all owe something back to the communities that have given us our opportunity to thrive and I want to ensure a safe and vibrant community for our children as they return to Bismarck to start their families and careers. I think we should all participate in our government at whatever lever we are able (run, campaign, testify, and vote) depending on our circumstances. In my particular case I am fortunate to have the support to be involved at this level. I am an economist, scientist and planner. I have a background as a private business owner, a scientist and administrator, and as an educator. I have graduate degrees in economics and natural resources. I have been focusing on natural resource planning at all levels of government and for the private sector for over 20 years. I think the skills as an economist, a planner, and as a teacher all provide tools necessary for the commission to prepare Bismarck for our future. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Public confidence - I think recent events have resulted in skepticism and distrust of the commission. I think this rift needs to be repaired. The public must have confidence in the motives and decisions that come from the city commissioners. We need to respect the peoples input, inform the public when there is information relevant to a decision that may be contrary to their information, and provide for greater participation when controversial issues arise. Open informed and frank discussions go a long way toward rebuilding public trust. We need to rebuild that trust if we are to be effective. •
Keeping up with (ahead of) the speed of growth - Growth in western ND has reverberating impacts to the rest of the state, especially Bismarck as the center of government, regional medical hub, and a business community. We expect significant economic spillover which is a good thing. To enable this business growth we must plan for where business will grow and how to efficiently supply those businesses with the infrastructure they will need to compete. Along with planning for the benefits of growth, we would be naïve to not plan for increased demands for public safety. As we grow we must keep the quality of life we have enjoyed intact. Another issue with growth is the demand on permitting and inspections, these two elements must be sufficient to both keep up with the pace and provide for appropriate levels of inspection and review for public safety. Managed growth is great for our community, but unmanaged growth can have catastrophic impacts on infrastructure, public finance and public safety.
Diversification of our community economic portfolio - As energy industry continues to grow, Bismarck must continue to recruit, promote and grow other economic sectors of our local economy. This balance, much like diversifying a 401k, provides a stabilizing buffer to the local economy in the event of downturns within any one industry and to withstand large national economic fluctuations. Bismarck is a diverse business community and we need to make sure we maintain that balance. Continued on page 9
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IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? I would really like to see better cooperation and engagement with the County. We are citizens of the county and as Bismarck grows county infrastructure must be absorbed into and mesh with the cities infrastructure. Both the county and the city have overlapping public safety concerns. We also have many county residents who work, shop, and recreate in Bismarck as well as Bismarck residents who recreate in the county. It makes sense to leverage our resources and work together on the many overlapping issue. These coordinated efforts are a more efficient way of addressing common issues than funding and going it alone. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? The Commission should address future infrastructure needs through planning. First leverage existing infrastructure rather than building redundant new services and second cluster intensive resource needs together so that systems are not overbuilt for a few users in an area. Make a plan and try to stick to it. These actions help reduce the costs associated with infrastructure growth. In terms of going beyond what we have and long-term build out, when infrastructure is needed to support energy industry growth we should approach the oil impact revenues from the state. I am a fundamental believer in user pay models. There are times when certain types of public spending can be view as investment but we need to be clear in that definition and focus the spending of local taxes on those investments and maintaining the existing infrastructure already serving the community. The other issue that needs to be addressed is sustainability. We need to account for sustainable revenue to maintain and service additional infrastructure before it is built. WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? I think there are a multitude of collaborations that are already in place and that need to be maintained or grown to help our city grow and maintain a great sense of place. We have and need to continue to grow intergovernmental relationships with the county, Mandan, and the state and federal governments. One of the most important local partnerships are private sector collaborations with the local business community, community organizations, and the public as a whole. Cooperation and participation are keys to a true sense of community and if we are sincere in our request for partners the citizens, businesses and our neighbors will respond. I look at the several natural hazard events over the last few years as an example of how we will come to the aid of our neighbors and community. It is in our culture and our values.
MIKE MOTSCHENBACHER - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I am running for city commission primarily because I believe small business needs a voice on the commission. I have spent my whole life working in and managing a small business. Small business are the engine that keeps a city running and I believe my 23 years of experience working in small business qualifies me as a candidate. I have also been very active working with our elected officials for the past ten years to show them different perspectives on how to accomplish their goals. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Shortage of quality employees in Bismarck. We need to be promoting families to move here. But to do so, we need to insure that Bismarck becomes a “destination city” and has all the necessary attractions, such as available and affordable housing, good schools, and a variety of extra-curricular activities available to them. •
Taxes. Taxes need to be held in check. Growth in the community will increase the tax base, and I don’t believe there is any reason to raise taxes. We all need to live within our means, including our city government.
Infrastructure. I think Bismarck needs to plan way into the future, especially in the areas of roads and land acquisition. I keep hearing people talk about how long it takes to get from one side of town to the other, and I agree. We need to provide more lanes of traffic both North- South, and East-West to improve traffic flow.
IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? Communication with the citizens. If elected, I will have a Facebook page where all the citizens of Bismarck will be invited to post their concerns and discuss them. I believe it is currently the best method available for the citizens to give input and discuss, and it doesn’t cost anyone a penny to do so.
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HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? How does the Commission address future funding requirements for infrastructure? I think you can compare it to planning for retirement. A portion of what is collected needs to be put away for future use. That future use should be infrastructure funding. I believe the current tax base can support future growth, and the new money that comes in once taxes are collected on new development, can once again be “reinvested in retirement” WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? I really believe the city and county need to work together and come to a conclusion on extra-territorial zoning that benefits both, and is fair to the citizens. I also think that strategic private-public partnerships can be utilized, but I believe the city should be nothing more than just a tiny spark that helps create development. The city can create the environment for business, but should not be involved in it, and by no means ever compete with private business.
DOUG PHILP - BISMARCK CITY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COMMISSIONER AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION? I’m running for city commission because I believe the city needs both fresh ideas and capable leadership. Being a long time resident of Bismarck qualifies me. Plus my ‘petition of nomination’ being filed with the city containing 392 verified signatures (required is 300 signatures) puts me on the ballot. Speaking more to the heart of what qualifies me, I have 12 years of experience serving on the Board of Trustees at Prairie Family Church, prior owner of a construction business and two years study through INSTE Bible College. In general, life experiences qualify me as well. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? Long range planning is paramount for the city commission on issues. • Bismarck Growth – The Future Land Use Plan (FLUP) is an example as a plan to be followed for at least the next 25 years. Input from residents is essential for the commission to succeed. •
Input from Residents - Residents were invited via public hearings as opportunity, but the city misses several opportunities to involve the public’s ongoing input developing the plan. There were two committees (technical and advisory) giving input during the FLUP’s development. I believe there needed to be a third, a residential committee, comprised of residents in the immediate affected areas. These are people who could have provided valuable insight. The city truly missed an opportunity here.
Crime - Crime isn’t discussed much with the community. We all know it is increasing however, and the city will need to take a good look at how to best help the police department in its mission with crime prevention.
IDENTIFY ONE AREA WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IMPROVEMENT FROM CITY GOVERNMENT? City government needs to come back to a place of accountability to the residents of Bismarck. A good step is for commissioners to publically pledge their intent to put residents’ concerns first. Second, to back this pledge up with action by casting votes in accordance with those concerns. Additionally, city government needs to find more efficient ways to involve Bismarck residents in the governing process. Since these funding sources and others all deal with public money the bigger question to ask would be, “is the project something the public desires?” Then involve the residents by asking them if the project is necessary. If the answer is “yes,” the manner of funding should likewise require the input of residents. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? Depending on the infrastructure, traditional funding sources are available through Federal and State funds; tax specials, mil levies and sales tax as well. I’ll add as a tax payer, none are of particular appeal. Since these funding sources and others all deal with public money the bigger question to ask would be, “is the project something the public desires?” Then involve the residents by asking them if the project is necessary. If the answer is “Yes” the manner of funding should likewise require the input of residents.
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WHAT KIND OF COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIPS SHOULD THE CITY COMMISSION ENGAGE IN TO ACCOMPLISH ITS GOALS? Any collaboration first and foremost should include the residents of Bismarck from the beginning to the end. Yet depending on the goal, experts should be consulted for collaborative input as well. An example that I believe perfectly explains my view is that of the business community’s input on future development around Bismarck. Their input in this type of situation would be crucial for the community and the commission in partnership.
JASON ARENZ - MANDAN PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for my 3rd term and looking forward to being part of bringing a YMCA to Mandan and seeing this project through. I grew up in this community and want to be part of something special by contributing back to a Community that gave to me 20-30 years ago. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? By ensuring that Mandan Parks continues to be fiscally responsible and not over extending our community. Growth is good but it is how we control this growth that makes the City of Mandan what it is today. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? By being flexible with policies and procedures that have been in place for years and jointly working with our local developers to make sure that parks/green space are top of mind in all discussions that pertain to future development. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? This is a great question and one that is difficult to answer. But I would say that this can be achieved by having open discussions with the Mandan Park District, Mandan School District, and the City of Mandan. All three entities need to be on the same page in order to make sure that our community facilities continue to grow with the growth in population.
ANN KELLER - MANDAN PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? In my four years on the Mandan Park Board I’ve experienced working with a great team as we’ve developed new facilities and programs that have enhanced the recreational opportunities for Mandan citizens. I would like to continue to serve the community as we face challenge of new growth and development. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? Mandan is growing rapidly and our citizens deserve quality recreational opportunities. We need to be consistent with all user groups and maintain the current facilities we operate while staying within a budget the citizens can comfortably live with.
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HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? In conjunction with the park director we have developed a comprehensive plan to evaluate existing green space and the need to develop new green space as Mandan continues to grow. By working closely with the planning and zoning committee we will hopefully meet our green space needs. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? By being fair and consistent with all user groups and by listening to and communicating with the citizens of Mandan. Also, by thoughtful planning and careful spending, we can best utilize the taxpayer’s dollars. By doing so we can maintain existing facilities and programs while developing new opportunities for the community.
CHAD HATZENBUHLER - MANDAN PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for Mandan Park Board to give back to the community. I also want to educate the public about the importance of the park district and how much of a part of their life it is. When collecting signatures door-to-door this spring, I learned many people are unfamiliar with the park district and the duties of the Park Board. My goal is to change that by helping Mandan residents understand what the Park Board does for their community. I will offer a fresh perspective to the Board and provide innovative ideas for the community. I am excited to see my hometown growing, and I look forward to helping retain all the things I love about Mandan while embracing new opportunities. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? I plan to listen to the residents of Mandan and let them have a voice within the community. Working together, the Park Board and citizens can do great things for the community. Many topics discussed at recent Park Board meetings reflect the growth Mandan is experiencing. This growth is something many have not experienced, so it is important for the Park Board to adapt to changes and consider what is best for Mandan. As a lifelong resident of Mandan with a young family, planning for future generations is important to me. If elected, I would ensure the park district continued to provide activities for individuals and families. Preparing for coming years will guarantee the Park Board will keep up with the growth Mandan is experiencing. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? Parks are very important to everyone living in Bismarck/Mandan. Parks give families a place for picnics and for kids to play. It is a place for anyone to get away from their busy life and enjoy our wonderful city. My goal is to continue updating Mandan’s current parks while exploring opportunities for new areas around the growing community to add parks. As Mandan grows, it is important to retain green space in the city. Providing easy access to parks is convenient for the community and will ensure the parks continue to be used. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? With a growing city, it is important to determine what can add revenue to the Mandan Park District. Maintaining and developing facilities costs money. My number one concern is maintaining the current facilities to use them as much as possible. With a growing city, adding facilities will need to be an option. Input from the community will be vital when deciding the best facilities to maintain and where development is needed.
MILES MEHLOFF - MANDAN PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? Growing up in Mandan I always enjoyed the many recreation options available. I have very fond memories of riding my bike across town to play frisbee golf, playing teeball, exploring neighborhood parks and learning to swim at the (then) Community Center. I want to ensure that our children and future generations have the same and additional opportunities that I had. I enjoy being active in the community and watching my hometown grow. I feel that I am uniquely qualified for this position as I have been very active utilizing the parkâ€™s programs from my youth into adulthood. I have been active in Basketball, Volleyball, Softball leagues and other programs. I currently have children in the Mandan After-school Care which is a Park district program. I also have board experience as I serve on the Architectural Review Commission, Planning & Zoning Commission, and Mandan Soccer Club board. I am also a member of the Mandan Progress Organization and a volunteer parent for the Mandan Hockey Club. All these experiences have prepared me for serving on the park board. I am dedicated to our community and I want to be a part in the ongoing strengthening of our city. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? As the community grows, so do the recreation needs of the growing population. As those needs grow, the park district must continue to grow as well by adding new facilities, parks, trails and programs. This will take foresight and planning but by offering more quality recreation options to our residents, we will achieve a healthy, active community that will strengthen our great city. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? Continuing to be proactive in acquiring property in these growth areas for recreational use needs to be a priority of the park board. The park district has already made great strides with the purchase of the large acreage north of the middle school and by working with the city to increase the park funding from new building permits. As those funds accumulate we need to continue to acquire additional property for neighborhood parks and green spaces. However this does need to be controlled which is why effective planning and budgeting are so important. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? The park district has consistently done an exceptional job creating and working within their budget. We need to continue this history of success. There is a lot of competition for funding, so we need to keep searching for additional funding sources. By working together with the park district and individual interest groups to forecast and prioritize facility needs we will be successful in developing a solid long term strategy.
JULIE JESKE - BISMARCK PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I believe Bismarck is an incredibly vibrant community, offering its residents a wide range of recreational and cultural opportunities. With so much to offer and even more potential to grow it is vital to have a representative on the Bismarck Park Board who recognizes the need for progressive action. My experiences as a Grand Forks and Bismarck park and recreation commissioner have provided me with the knowledge and expertise needed to effectively represent the people of Bismarck.
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HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? My background in healthcare and my love of cultural and recreational activities help me to be keenly aware of the important role a park system plays in the health and wellness of a community. I have always been, and will continue to be, an advocate for meeting the needs of our residents by staying well-informed on current and future trends in the world of parks and recreation and in our city. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? The allocation of green space for the development of parks was the basis of my platform when I successfully ran four years ago. I was thrilled city leaders and key stakeholders came together on this matter…it was a monumental step in preserving the aesthetic value of our city. The Park District has a master plan for future parks based on projected growth patterns. As a commissioner, I would foster the district’s relationship with land developers, business owners and others to work together in partnership to guarantee we have abundant parks that provide a welcoming, fun and safe environment for all.
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HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? This is a major challenge we face as a district. There is a definite need within our growing community for more recreational space while several of our current facilities need renovation. While daunting on the surface, we can accomplish our goals by identifying new funding sources (outside of taxing property owners), revisiting our current fee structure, and investigating every opportunity for cost savings. For the past four years, I have provided bold leadership with fiscal conservatism to the board.
MIKE SCHWARTZ - BISMARCK PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? As the current president of the Bismarck Park Board it has been my pleasure to spend the past four years serving the citizens of Bismarck by furthering the cause of parks and recreation in our community. My years of service on the Board attest to a record of impartiality and fiscal responsibility. In light of our community’s unprecedented growth I continue to believe the Park District must focus on maintaining its existing infrastructure while looking forward to future growth of Park District facilities and programs. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? No single entity can ensure quality of life in a growing community. As a Park Commissioner I will continue to work with my fellow park commissioners, other governmental bodies, community groups and Park District staff to ensure the Park District’s facilities and programs contribute significantly to Bismarck’s quality of life as our community grows. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? The recently enacted neighborhood Green Space ordinance is a wonderful tool that will definitely help the Park District ensure green spaces continue to be an integral part of our neighborhoods. Perhaps the bigger question is how the Park District will provide space for regional parks in the growing areas of our community. In the past regional parks such as Lions Hillside, Sertoma and Pioneer Parks were the result of generous land donations. As our community grows to the north and east it will be an ongoing challenge for the Park District to plan, acquire and develop regional green spaces. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? The ability to maintain existing facilities and meet the needs of a growing community continues to be the single biggest challenge facing the Bismarck Park District. If you take a deep dive into the Park District operating budget it is no secret that most programs are subsidized to ensure parks and recreation programs remain accessible and affordable to all citizens. The debt load the Park District carries is a real indicator that the current level of property taxes, user fees and grants do not adequately support Park District expansion and development. I believe the solution to this problem will be for the community to provide an additional sustainable revenue stream to assist the Park District with debt retirement and capital projects. In the end we must all ask each other, do we value quality of life in our community and to what level are we willing to support that which we value?
HARLEY ENGELMAN - BISMARCK PARK BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR PARK BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the Bismarck Park Board because I truly care about this community. It has been my life-long home and it has provided a safe environment to raise my four children in. It has presented my wife and me with both personal and professional opportunities. It is quite simply, home and I would like to give back more to this wonderful community that has provided so much to us. I believe that I can make a difference by applying my 40+ years of private/public sector business, marketing, and management experience to the challenges facing our park district. Coupled with roughly 20 years of coaching experience ranging from the varsity high school level to youth programs, I believe I can bring a unique perspective to the board as it grapples with fiscal and growth issues. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENSURE THAT BISMARCK/MANDAN WILL CONTINUE TO ENSURE A GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE WHILE THE CITY GROWS? No one commissioner, whether park or city, can ensure that Bismarck maintains its’ quality of life. It is up to the community as a whole to work towards that goal. What I believe I can offer is the opportunity for citizens’ viewpoints to be heard, thoughtful consideration given and appropriate decisions made. As commissioners, we must redefine our focus to include an emphasis on the arts and the inclusion of all individuals, regardless of abilities. The changing diversity of our community demands no less. It is important that we work to bring together those that have diverse opinions, innovative ideas and a strategic vision so the district will have a long term plan of action. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE INCORPORATION OF GREEN SPACES/PARKS IN FUTURE DEVELOPMENT? Studies demonstrate green space add value to the community. Green spaces in new housing developments add value to the respective owner’s property and enhance the return on investment for the developer. Well-designed and maintained parks and facilities enhance program participation, adding to business stability and economic growth. An equitable arrangement that does not put an unfair burden on the property owner, park district, or developer must be crafted. I would call for the formation of a committee comprised of district, city, developer, business and interest group representation to re-envision the current ordinance. This community approach may prove invaluable to ensuring the city’s growth does not come at the expense of green space. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE INCREASING DEMAND TO DEVELOP AND MAINTAIN FACILITIES WHILE MAINTAINING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? In light of the district’s current debt, it is unrealistic to assume that the district can maintain existing facilities and explore growth without a change to its funding mechanism or enhancing collaborative partnerships with business and/or organizations. Bismarck citizens would not support a tax increase; therefore, we need to look at existing park and city revenue streams to ensure efficiency and to identify potential inequities Many groups have already worked closely with the district on projects of special interest. The board should continue to seek collaborative relationships as a means of augmenting funding of existing and new facilities and programs. Because of my experience with development/fundraising, I understand that business and organizations are looking to collaborative partnerships that lead to tangible results. They believe in community engagement and seek opportunities to work with partners on community projects. How to enhance existing and develop new relationship with the city’s business community should be a key part of a well-designed strategic plan.
SHELDON WOLF - MANDAN SCHOOL BOARD
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the school board to ensure Mandan students can receive the education they need to lead a productive life and make a successful contribution to society, while maintaining fiscal responsibility to the citizens living in the Mandan Public School System. My wife Cheryl is a school teacher in Bismarck, and we have two children in the Mandan School system. A daughter who is a freshman and a son who is a sixth grader. I am a current school board member appointed by the Board to fill a vacated rural position and a member of the district facilities and finance workgroup. As my children went through grade school, I was a member of the Lewis and Clark PTO. My education includes a bachelor of science in accounting and business administration and a master of management from the University of Mary. My work experience includes insurance sales, auditing for a large multistate employer and am currently the Health Information Technology Director for the State of North Dakota. Other leadership roles include serving on non-profit boards, state employee councils and professional organizations. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? The school board has done a great job over the past five years ensuring students have what they need to succeed. For example, they work to ensure teacher pay is competitive with other school districts. This helps to keep well trained teachers in the school system and provides for a continuity of education for our students. Another example is working to ensure we have enough class room space to ensure reasonable class sizes. They have done this by working with the community to build Red Trail Elementary School and finally, they have looked at ways to minimize expenditures, i.e. refinancing higher interest rate loans to lower interest rate loans and sharing of staff between schools. I donâ€™t think there has been much done poorly over the last five years by the school board, however, there are still a lot of things that need to be done. For example, we need to strategically develop a facilities plan for the next five to ten years, taking into consideration our aging facilities and our growing community. Additionally, we must evaluate and react to ever changing federal, state and local financing models and educational requirements. Finally, and most importantly, proactively create educational opportunities to ensure our students are well prepared to lead a productive life and contribute to society after they graduate from Mandan Public Schools. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? As I serve as the only specifically identified rural representative, I will base my decisions on what is best for rural students in particular, and all students in general, ensuring they receive the education they deserve. In addition, decisions will be based on what is good for our teachers, administration and support staff, as without these key employees, we cannot educate our students, while maintaining fiscal responsibility. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY â€“ PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? Balancing a quality education with fiscal responsibility is never easy. However, it really comes down to looking at what programs, staff, facilities and resources are needed to provide an education to our students, so they can reach their potential while ensuring the system remains affordable. Currently, a process that I think works well is to work with the facilities and finance workgroup. This group is made up of citizens, board members, administrators, educators and other support staff. Through this process, major funding decisions can be discussed, and modified as necessary, for recommendation to the school board, who can then modify, approve or deny the recommendations that have been vetted through multiple stakeholders.
BOB KLEMISCH - MANDAN SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? Mandan Public Schools and the city of Mandan have been good to me and my family. I was employed by Mandan Public Schools for 29 years and all three of my children graduated from Mandan High School. I would like to be able to give back something to the school district and community and feel this is the best avenue for me to do so. I worked in the school district as a coach, teacher, principal, technology director, curriculum director, and leader of the district’s school improvement process (AdvancED). With this type of background, I feel I can contribute some background knowledge to the discussions by the board. Also, having attended school board meetings as an administrator, I believe I have a good idea of its functions, procedures, and structure. If the voters of Mandan agree, I would be happy to serve on the school board. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? I think the district has done a good job of planning for the growth of the school district. Passing bond issues is never easy, but with good honest communication with the community they were able to express the need for new schools and the upkeep of our existing schools. I don’t believe the district has anything that I believe was a poor decision that I would need to change at this time. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? Decisions by the board should always be based on the best interests of the children of Mandan. With that in mind, we also have to be prudent with the financial resources available to us, and the fact that we are expending tax payer dollars. We have a very good school district and can continue to have one with the resources available. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? Recognizing the limits of our resources is crucial in this regard. I don’t believe we can spend based on want, but rather on need. Our children deserve the best, but it must be the best we can provide without creating undue burdens on our citizens. In some instances, we may have achieve goals in a step by step process as funding allows.
MARNIE PIEHL - MANDAN SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I’m running because I believe in contributing time and talent to the community I live in, and as the wife of an educator, I respect and want to support teachers. While I’m a Bismarck native, my family is new to Mandan. The schools are where we have made our first connections to the community and I’ve been very impressed. I’ve found everyone from the bus drivers to the teachers to Superintendent Bitz to be responsive and committed to their work. I’ve got three boys in the schools (twins in second grade at Lewis & Clark, and a 7th grader at the middle school) all of whom need different things from the education system. Their teachers rise to the occasion every day. I’d like to support what they do, and ensure that the district remains strong, well-run and prepared for the challenges future growth will bring. My qualifications are two-fold – I’ve been in the communications field for more than 20 years and I’ve long been active in my children’s education and the community through my volunteer and board activities. Much of my volunteer board experience is educational – five years on the Dakota Montessori school board in Fargo, three on the Missouri Valley Montessori school board in Bismarck; and six years (including three years as president) with the Apple Creek PTO. I’m a board member of the West Dakota Red Cross board, and the Bismarck Mandan Unitarian Universalist Fellowship where I’m also involved in religious education. I’m a co-chair of one of the Leadership Bismarck Mandan professional days (and a 2008 graduate of that program); and a volunteer with the Dakota Digital Film Festival. I have found that my communication skills (I’m currently the Director of College Relations at BSC) are helpful in board settings, and I hope to be able to offer those skills to the Mandan School Board. Continued on page 18
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IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? I’m very pleased with the diversity of the current board. I think a board with a range of age and experience does better work, especially when it serves a diverse population like the 3,300 students from a variety of backgrounds and socio-economic situations in the Mandan schools. I think the new schools were vital and well-vetted, and I’ve been very pleased with the reading programs at Lewis & Clark. Ensuring that every child gets the support she or he needs at key points in the learning process is right and important. I know that 18 teachers left Mandan for better paying jobs in Bismarck this past year. That is too many. That brain drain is one of the reasons I decided to run – Mandan should be able to keep its teachers and pay them a competitive salary. I know that is being addressed and I want to help. We need to do our best to keep good teachers – their work is invaluable. We will see the benefit of that effort in the classroom and in the community for years to come. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? My decisions will be based on my experience in educational boards; my observations as a parent and community member; fiscal balance and big picture thinking. Strategy is vital to decision making. You have to know where you’re going to make good decisions in the day-to-day. I’m really impressed with the vision set forth by the district – I believe we do best if we carefully consider the vision at every step of the way HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? I believe that doing what is right for education is in the best interest of the whole community, but that must be balanced with the fiscal realities of the community. As Mandan grows, the tax base too will grow, that helps. I think we need to be the best possible stewards of taxpayer dollars, leveraging every dollar wisely within the district. I believe the district does that now. I believe that fiscal stewardship, well communicated, inspires trust. Then, if and when the taxpayer is asked to do more, he will understand the necessity and trust in the board’s process.
SCOTT HALVORSON - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the School Board because I have devoted my whole life to the education of kids and I wish to continue in that capacity. My background in education and the fact that I have served on the board and helped guide BPS through the challenges of unprecedented growth. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? I believe we have done a good job of planning and taking action to address the challenges that we have faced with the tremendous growth in our student population. We have been very open and transparent in our approach to address these challenges. Community input has been a critical component of the process . While I wouldn’t do anything differently, I believe we always need to look to improve as a board and a board member. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? Before any vote that I make as a board member, I always ask myself how will it impact student learning and is it financially sound. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? With our mill levy and cost per student compared to other large schools in the state I believe we have done a good job of being prudent with our budget and are not falling behind in providing for educational needs of our students. I have always believed education is an investment and as in any investment we must make sure we are getting the highest return. The bond vote was a strong indication of the tremendous support that the people of Bismarck have for education. As a board member we cannot do anything to jeopardize that support which means we need to continue to scrutinize expenditures to make sure they are financially sound.
KARALEE HARPER - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I have been interested in the workings of the Bismarck Public School District since my two children started in the district three years ago, attending Prairie Rose Elementary and most recently Lincoln Elementary. I have proudly watched them learn and grow. I know that my boys and their classmates have many more years to stretch their imaginations and flourish as they learn about the world and their place in it. My desire to help my children succeed, along with my passion for giving back to the community, has inspired me to run for a seat on the Bismarck School Board. I want to provide fresh ideas and positive solutions for Bismarck students and their families. Currently, I serve as Co-President of the Lincoln Elementary PTO and am a parent representative on the Bismarck Public School Health Council. Leadership roles I have held in the past include being Treasurer for the Prairie Rose Parent Teacher Club, as well as President of the University of Mary Alumni Committee. My qualifications for a school board position include having more than 15 years’ experience in human relations, negotiation skills, conflict resolution and public speaking in the public and private sector. I have worked within the mental health and substance abuse field prior to joining the North Dakota Department of Health. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Addiction Counseling and a master’s degree in business management from the University of Mary. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? The Bismarck School Board has had numerous successes in the past five years, including reinforcing the wellness policy. This policy reinforcement demonstrates the value of the health and well-being of our children and the Bismarck Public School staff. Another success is the recent implementation of the Zpass, which is a welcome additional safety measure. The ability for Harlow’s bus service to have access to the exact location of every student who rides the bus is invaluable. In my opinion, the school board has not done anything poorly. However, as with anything, there are always opportunities for improvement. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? I will visit with and listen to other parents about opportunities for improvement within the Bismarck Public School District, and develop solutions that will help our children. I will ask questions and listen. By nature, I consider people more important than things. The value I place on humankind guides my decision-making. It also influences what I say and do, as well as what I choose not to say and do. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS?
I will consider how one thing causes something else to occur and will take time to methodically weigh the facts.
Michael Holly –Bismar
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MICHAEL HOLLY - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? Nor I have been in public service for most of my life and after retiring from the ND National Guard last August Offi this with over 31 years of service, I decided it was time to get involved in local government. Because I have always had an affinity for education, the Sec Bismarck School Board felt like a good fit. Guardsman has held the position. In this p The school board is a unique organization in that it almost requires its members to have a variety of skills and Africa qualifications in order forresponsible it to be Command, he was for c Ghana, Togo, and Benin. When he retired, successful. My life experiences allow me to bring several qualities to the board Military Support, responsible for planning, co Having been educated in Bismarck schools and then choosing Bismarck as the place I wanted my daughters toallgrow up provides me matters. with a domestic operations multi-generational perspective. I can relate with new parents, grand parents, and everyone in between. As a parent, I have been very active in my Mr. Holly is actively involved in the eme daughters’ schools. I was on the Roosevelt School PTO for 11 years and am currently the Century High SchoolIncident PAC vice president.System As a resident of an Command instructor Accreditation Program, a natio Bismarck I served on several community advisory boards, providing input on boundaries, school closure, andManagement principal selection. excellence and accountability in emergency While stationed in Ghana, the American Ambassador appointed me to the Lincoln Community School BoardHolly of Trustees. Duringsupporting my tenureseveral on is currently rur this board we developed and implemented a massive expansion campaign in order to handle our projected growth; interestingly caused by the procedures and with two local-level jurisdi planning.going Mr. Holly also is actively collaborat discovery of very large oil deposits in the country. So in a sense I have already experienced what Bismarck is currently through. Disaster Management Organization, and My professional and educational experiences will also help me be a valuable member of the board. In the military I learned theprofessional importanceand of practition comprehensive planning, accountability, and communications, and the need to provide strategic direction for those who are responsible for administration. When Ghana. I decided to pursue an advanced degree I chose to study public administration because I believe that for public sector leaders to be effective, theyof Scienc Mr. Holly received his Bachelor Masters of Public Administration from the must not only understand the issues, but also the underlying concepts of public administration.
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Mr. Holly an active community memb IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HASisTHE SCHOOL for over a decade and is currently the v BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? Advisory Committee. He served on sever If I had to pick one overarching accomplishment of this board it would be that their selection and empowerment of an of effective member the NDSuperintendent Department of -Public I Whileofinnew Ghana he served on implethe Lincoln Tamara Uselman. Under her leadership several new schools have been built; the district has handled a large influx students; and has international election observer. Mr. Holly pre mented the common core standards to name just a few of the district’s accomplishments. Directors and McCabe United Methodist Chu While these are good things, I struggle with giving many accolades directly to the current board. More often thanMr. notHolly theyhas havetwo acted like a children, Samantha, a passive partner and not a driving force. Bismarck has experienced a lot of growth over the past few years and we it is goingage to continue toat Centur TN,know and Rebecca, 16, a junior grow. In my opinion the school board should be developing a strategic plan that provides direction to the Superintendent. The district is projected You can find more information on his cam to grow by another 3000 + students over the next several years, which means the board should be constantly looking at facilities, boundaries, and resources and then developing a long range plan so everyone knows how this growth is going to be handled. I am also concerned with how the board provides educational oversight. While I think the board does an adequate job with overseeing the school district’s budget, I have not seen the board spend time ensuring an effective tie between resource utilization and educational standards. One example is the implementation of common core standards. While everyone knows educational standards are not new to ND, how they were developed changed with the common core. Before, standards began from kindergarten and worked their way up. Under the common core however, development began at the 12th grade level. This led to the need for instructional revision and curriculum changes. While I personally think the new standards will ultimately provide a better learning environment for Bismarck students, I think the school board should have taken the lead through the implementation, ensuring the administration had a sound plan for teacher and student readiness and then sharing that information with community and parent groups. As an elected body, it should be the school board taking the lead in any issue that impacts the community, whether it is a discussion of boundaries, buildings, calendars, or standards. It is not enough for board members to be in the room, they should be in the front and using the Superintendent as a resource, not as the point person.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? While there are several factors that will have an impact on my decision-making, how I weigh them against each other may change depending on the issue. There is one exception to this of course, and that is we must follow our legal requirements, whether state or federal. The other factors that will always have an impact on my decision-making include addressing the needs and desires of the community, educational standards and requirements, fiscal management, and the long term impact of our decisions.
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One way to effectively manage these factors is for the board to develop a strategic plan. Currently the Superintendent has one, but it is critical for the board to develop one s well, to guide the administration, taking into consideration the factors I listed above. Without it, there is always the concern decisions will be made hastily, haphazardly or belatedly. Everyone has experienced the effects of decisions made like these and we should actively work to make sure they don’t happen again. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? By design, the education of Bismarck Public School students is the responsibility of the district administration, however it provides this education on behalf of the residents of Bismarck, represented by the School Board. In order for this to be a successful relationship, the board must provide clear expectations and instructions to the Superintendent so she can effectively administer. Without established guidance, the Superintendent has to guess what the board expects. Conversely, without establishing clear expectations, the implication is that as long as the Superintendent doesn’t overextend her budget, everything will be fine and we end up hoping Bismarck students will continue to receive an excellent education. While this may have worked in the past, I don’t believe it is the best course for Bismarck. Our students and residents deserve a school board that provides strategic direction, administrative oversight, and community accountability – objectives I will work to bring to the board.
KARL LEMBKE - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I grew up in Bismarck and my kids are growing up in Bismarck. This community has provided so much for me and my family. I am willing and ready serve this community. Representing the students, educators and all citizens in the Bismarck School District as a school board member is the most effective way for me to serve this great community. I work as a Development Officer for the State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation. My wife is a Registered Nurse with Mid Dakota Clinic. We have a son in high school, a daughter in middle school and our youngest daughter is in elementary school. I am very involved and active in Bismarck community committees as well as serving on the Parent Advisory Committee at Century High School and multiple volunteer positions with youth activity organizations. My experiences in life and work give me excellent communication skills. I am a hard worker that will listen to the people of the Bismarck School District to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible with responsible decisions. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? The Bismarck School Board has done a good job for the school district and I thank the school board members for their service to our students and community. The addition of a new high school and two additional elementary schools has helped to address the increasing student population. It will be very important for the future of education in the Bismarck school system. Bismarck is experiencing tremendous growth and the increasing number of students will be an ongoing issue. Effective communication with parents and all citizens are extremely important as we address all the needs of the Bismarck School District. Planning, collaboration and communication with parents, educators, community program providers and students are necessary as the board makes decisions regarding the increasing number of students, support for students with limited resources and special needs, school funding and use of technology in learning, common core standards and standards of grading. The more parents and community members know about the issues and planning, the more they will understand what the district is trying to accomplish. As a public servant, I am committed to listen, educate and communicate effectively with everyone. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? As a parent of kids in high school, middle school and elementary school, I get to see how they learn and what they learn at all levels of our school system. Through involvement in community committees, advisory groups and civic issues, I see how school board issues and decisions affect the community. These experiences and effective communication along with common sense give me valuable skills to make necessary and responsible decisions as a school board member.
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HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? It is important to me to have the highest quality of education and resources to provide for the school system. I will be fiscally responsible without over-burdening taxpayers. I will look at the needs of the school system; identify the solutions and available resources and their potential costs or savings. Through communication, common sense and responsible use of resources, we can provide the highest quality of education. Education is the most important thing for our Bismarck kids. I will work hard to provide the best schools and best methods of learning to ensure they are ready for the next step they choose.
MATT SAGSVEEN - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I grew up in Bismarck and graduated from Bismarck High. I currently have two children in elementary school and our third will enter kindergarten in a few years. I feel strongly about working for the District that provided me with my education and enjoy having the opportunity work for the schools educating my children. The nice thing about running for the school board is that qualifications really aren’t a pre-requisite. Regardless, I think my work on the Board, whether as a board member, vice-president, or president, has provided me with the opportunity to develop valuable decision-making skills that can only be obtained through service on a school board. In addition, my experience on the Board has reinforced the importance of transparency and the necessity of giving parents and area stakeholders a voice in education and operations. Finally, my experience as an Assistant Attorney General has provided me with the necessary tools to be a board member. My representation of the state in complex and contentious cases has provided me with unique problem solving skills that I believe are beneficial to the Board. I also think the management experience I have gained as director of two legal divisions within the Office of Attorney General qualify me for the position. I currently manage the division of Natural Resources and Indian affairs. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? I am proud of the work the Board has done over the last five years, whether it is school construction projects, changing the grade levels in the schools, or the boundary process. All of this hard work was done with input from parents, teachers, and community members. If I had the opportunity to suggest something different, it might be to ask the community to consider approving funds for more substantive building remodeling identified by our consultant. Bismarck has a large number of old schools whose needs and expenses will only become greater. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? If possible, I always try to consider how decisions will impact students, parents, and teachers. Of course, the financial impact of a decision is a variable at every stage of the decision making-process whether the decision relates to books, computers, iPads, or sports. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER- BURDENING TAXPAYERS? YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? As a taxpayer myself my goal is never to over-burden the taxpayer, but the appropriate level of taxation is often a very difficult question - it can vary from year to year. As a board, we must constantly listen to the public to find the appropriate balance. In my opinion, you cannot focus only on education and ignore the associated costs, or vice versa, without throwing the two out of balance. I think we must constantly be aware of how they relate, but really focus on how we can maximize our efforts to help our students excel in positive learning environments.
RISSA WILLIAMS - BISMARCK SCHOOL BOARD WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the school board because I believe there is an under-represented population of students and families within Bismarck Public Schools. A couple years ago, I mentioned going to a school board meeting, and my son’s principal said he couldn’t remember the last time someone from the south end of town had been to one. Poverty and homelessness is a reality for too many kids in BPS, and I know what it feels like to heat water in a coffee pot to wash my hair before school, or go in early to shower in the locker room because the utilities have been disconnected. I also know how it feels to go from that, to owning a home and business, and even being successful enough to give someone else an opportunity to get back to work. I don’t have a college degree. I have three semesters at Minot State University, with four part time jobs and for one semester, a 3.65 GPA. I have half a dozen or so credits from the Community College of the Air Force, from various leadership courses during my four years of active duty, and I have a diploma from an accredited trade school. I earned that diploma while working 60 hours a week at two jobs, and my lowest final grade was a 96.5%. I am qualified because I’m dedicated, hardworking, and intelligent. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE WELL OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS? WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL BOARD DONE POORLY THAT YOU WOULD CHANGE? One of the things the school board has done well in the last five years is hire Tamara Uselman to be our superintendant. I sat on interview boards for both rounds of interviews, and the first group of candidates didn’t present a solid leader. The first thing I wrote on the page when Ms. Uselman introduced herself was, “dynamic”. She has a tough job, but she stays positive and looks for solutions. I also think the school board did a fantastic job with the community forums and boundary meetings regarding our new schools. They stood there with bullseyes on their backs and tried to hear every side they possibly could. I’m not looking forward to times like that, but I intend to serve honestly and with dignity, and always work towards the best possible outcome for everyone. One area that I have heard a lot of negative feedback about is communication. I’m not sure what the answers are, but many people have told me on several topics, that they did not feel like they had all of the information in a timely manner, or felt like they were told one thing and then the opposite was true. I don’t believe it was due to a lack of integrity by the school board, but I definitely feel that is an area we could address and improve. WHAT ARE THE FACTORS ON WHICH YOU WILL BASE YOUR DECISIONS AS A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? The factors I will base my decisions on as a school board member will always be centered on the students. I have no political aspirations, and am interested only in serving my community. As far as thinking outside the box is concerned, anyone who knows me will agree, I tend to disassemble the box, paint it, put wheels on it, and see if we can make something useful out of The Box. I’m not afraid to ask hard questions. I’m not afraid to make a mistake and be corrected, and I’m not afraid to negotiate and compromise. In a community this size, it is nearly impossible to give everyone what they want or need. The only fair option is to figure out what most people agree on, without excluding anyone whenever possible. HOW WILL YOU BALANCE QUALITY OF EDUCATION WITH A FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY – PROVIDING A QUALITY EDUCATION WITHOUT OVER-BURDENING TAXPAYERS? My plan to provide a quality education without overburdening taxpayers is to utilize other community organizations to whatever extent possible. I’m sure there are some guidelines regarding volunteers, as there should be, but if a local senior center has willing and able participants, maybe even some retired educators, one of the many needs in elementary schools is for people to listen to students read. As a parent in my son’s first school, I was trained as a volunteer to do just that. Every day I showed up at 10am and listened to groups of children read, and corrected mistakes when they happened. It wasn’t that difficult to commit to one hour a day, and I believe there are other individuals willing to do so. I would also love to see a mentoring program for at risk students, if there isn’t one already. I can’t possibly be the only person in Bismarck willing to give up a little of my time to encourage a kid who feels like giving up. I’m a strong believer in positive reinforcement and giving kids specific goals, then helping them see the necessary steps to reach those goals. One last bit of wisdom from one of my favorite educators: The most important thing we can give our students is our time. That is exactly why I want to be a member of the Bismarck School Board.
JIM BOEHM - MORTON COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? To give the citizens a choice who they would prefer to represent them on the commission. With my experience on the school board and legislature, I feel I have a lot to offer the citizens of Morton County, rural and city. I get along with people and would like to continue to represent them. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? At this time the joint jail proposal is the number one issue that we are asking of citizens of Morton and Burleigh counties to decide which way we should proceed. Taxes are always a concern and we need to provide the services at the least possible cost and keep taxes as low as possible. Roads are going to be more and more of an issue as traffic increases. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? With the oil boom, the infrastructure growth funding is a major issue. We need to look at private funding where possible and work with the cities, counties, and the state to help with the major issues.
ANDY ZACHMEIER - MORTON COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am seeking another term as County Commissioner because I thoroughly enjoy the work. I want to see Morton County continue to grow. The County right now is turning the page to a higher level of public service. The citizens have demanded a more accountable county government that will provide professional and timely service. I enjoy being involved in these new changes and demands. It is rewarding to see the county move forward. I have served eight years as a Morton County Commissioner. During that time, I have worked with Social Services, Elderly Services, County Planning and Zoning, Metropolitan Planning, Mandan City Planning and Zoning, Bismarck-Mandan Development Association, and County Parks. I have also had the opportunity to work with the various communities within Morton County. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • Jail Overcrowding- Currently there is a shortage of jail space in both Morton and Burleigh Counties. This is causing a public safety concern. This can also become a liability concern if this problem is not addressed. Morton and Burleigh Counties are currently working on the final plans for a joint jail to be constructed in Bismarck. The joint jail question will be on the June, 2014 ballot. •
Controlling Government Expenses- Commissioners always have to weigh the needs of the County vs. what the county taxpayer can afford. The citizens want and need certain services, but there is only so much money the citizens can afford to spend. Commissioners must remember that they are managing their constituent’s money when they are making their decisions. There has already been one attempt to eliminate property taxes. If local government is not careful in their decisions in regards to controlling expenses, there will be another attempt to eliminate property taxes. Elimination of property taxes will give State Government more discretion in determining Local Government expenditures, programs, and projects.
Affordable Housing- This is a difficult area because contractors and developers should be able to build the types of structures and homes that they think that the current market place will support. Free market concepts would also state that the rental rates should be driven by the current rental market. County government could assist in this area by offering property tax breaks to those developers who are willing to build homes or rental units marketed towards all citizens who are trying to make their homes in this County. Affordable housing is important to all citizens including the elderly and middle class. The County Commission must also remember that property tax breaks to one area will push that tax burden onto the rest of the citizens they represent. Continued on page 25
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HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? Right now Morton County is asking its voters to approve a Home Rule Charter. The County was very careful not to increase overall County governmental powers during the creation of this Charter. The only area that the County Government would have increased powers is in the area to levy a sales tax. Right now the voters are being asked to approve the Charter so that the County can use a sales tax to pay for the construction of a new Jail. This Charter could also be used to assist funding other projects as well. These other projects could include road and highway projects, water projects, and county park development. It must be pointed out that even though the Charter can be used to fund infrastructure projects, the Charter is written so that the voters will still have the opportunity to vote if they would want the additional tax or would want the infrastructure project. The County Commission cannot use the Home Rule Charter to approve a new tax without voter approval. The only other way to address future funding for infrastructure needs would be to continue to depend on Property Taxes or Special Assessments. Neither of these options is particularly popular. Another area for funding would be to rely on Federal and State grants. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? Intergovernmental cooperation can be successful in reducing expenditures. There is cooperation in some areas of emergency services. Morton and Burleigh Counties are currently studying a $50 million joint jail. There is already cooperation in transportation and certain land use identifiers taking place on the Metropolitan Planning Board. Joint Boards is one area that can promote cooperation. The Bismarck, Mandan, and Lincoln communities are creating one big metro area. A Joint Board between these entities and the counties to discuss the concerns of all involved may lead to understandings or agreements that can lessen expenditures in the areas of emergency services and transportation issues.
WOODY BARTH - MORTON COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I worked as a member of the government relations team and an elected leader of our stateâ€™s largest general farm organization for over a dozen years. This experience gives me a great understanding of the work of county government. I have a great desire to serve the citizens of Morton county as their commissioner. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? Morton county will continue to see population growth, the commission needs to ensure that this growth is good for all. We need to develop budgets that are adequate to meet the projected needs of our county and employ a strong county workforce to deliver these services. The safety and wellness of our citizens should be the number one priority of our county government. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? The need for adequate infrastructure is very important to all. Our roads and bridges, along with other services, are of vital need to promote and continue our strong economy in Morton county. We will need to utilize and explore all options to maintain these needs and services. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? All entities of government need to cooperate to meet the needs of their constituents. We can best do this by openly communicating with all involved in setting public policy.
JIM PELUSO - BURLEIGH COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the position because I feel my experience in the last two terms is valuable. We have been through two floods, numerous infrastructure projects, seven budget cycles, and we are currently working on a detention center project. I am currently the chair person on the commission and have held the sheriff and detention portfolio for both of my terms. I would like to see the project to completion. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? The top three issues in Burleigh County are jail space, flooding issues, and the importance of maintaining the quality of life we have enjoyed here. I know that is broad but it is foremost in my decision making. We need to keep our county safe. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? Future funding is an issue. I think a good example is that we are trying to pass a sales tax for the funding of our combined Burleigh, Morton detention center. We have combined our home rule charter with the sales tax so it will sunset when the project is complete. We must also look to our legislators for help because of the oil boom. We are not considered an oil county but we are experiencing many of the impacts. We are seeing many impacts in our social services department. Not only from oil but from the affordable care act as well. The state needs to step up and take the pressure off the local taxpayer. I would like the state to run the entire SS dept. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? We are always trying to promote consolidation of government. I think a good example is that we are working with Morton on the jail project. We also could combine with Morton on our 911 service as well. You need to build relations out of trust and I think this is on going. Most important is working with the city on cooperating at many levels. I think it is silly that we have an emergency manager for the city and the county. We need to have more conversation about intergovernmental cooperation.
DOUG SCHONERT - BURLEIGH COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? Burleigh County is in the beginning stages of a 20 – 30 year growth expansion at the rate of 3% or more per year. Burleigh County will face new problems as a result of both population and commercial growth. As a result of my years of service with township government and the Burleigh County Commission as well as being a life-long resident of Burleigh County, I have gained the knowledge, understanding, and experience necessary to continue to serve Burleigh County. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • The health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. I encourage responsible development of our resources – water, wind, coal, oil, natural gas, agriculture products, and our biggest and best resource - people. •
Another concern of mine has been and is to provide orderly development by managing and guiding housing and business growth within Burleigh County’s planning and zoning jurisdiction. Over the years, I have advocated for a county zoning and planning department. Burleigh County Planning & Zoning Department was established in January 2014. A county planning department will ensure a more rural approach to sensible rural development. In addition, this Department is in the process of streamlining the permit and inspection division, which has been and continues to be an issue of the rural residents, builders, contractors, and developers.
Maintain and develop infrastructure and facilities to serve the ever growing needs of our citizens.
I strongly support a favorable vote to build a new detention facility (jail). On a daily basis, an average of 30 plus inmates is held at other detention centers (jails) at a significant cost to Burleigh County. Due to North Dakota’s economic growth, it is anticipated that this number will continue to go.
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HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? Burleigh County relies strongly on the state gas tax distribution funds for the major portion of infrastructure funding for roads and bridges. On special road and bridge projects Burleigh County may receive some federal and or state funding. Burleigh County maintains township roads in all 46 townships and receives funding from those townships. There will be a measure on the June 10th ballot to allow a Home Rule Charter to establish a ½ cent sales tax for a combined Burleigh – Morton Detention Center (jail), which I strongly support. The Home Rule Charter and ½ cent sales tax will end when the Burleigh – Morton Detention Center (jail) is paid for. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? I have always promoted intergovernmental cooperation by maintaining good dialog and relations with all governmental agencies. It is very important to work closely with townships, other counties, cities, state and federal agencies. By doing so, we can provide a more efficient, effective way of governing and providing needed services. Burleigh County has many cooperative agreements in place with these agencies at the present time. I will continue to keep open a channel of communication, interchange ideas, and look for more and better ways to cooperate.
LAROY BAIRD - BURLEIGH COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I feel that it is time I gave back to the community that I have called home since 1971. My family and I have lived in Bismarck, Wilton and now rural Burleigh County and I feel that my time spent here qualifies me to be a county commissioner. I have been an attorney and a business owner for 30 + years and my experience in those fields also lend themselves to governance. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? Because I would be the junior member of the commission (by time served, not age, of course!) I would hope that the first years of my service would be a time of listening and information gathering. I will listen to the needs of the county residents and the county government and use that information to make appropriate decisions for the needs of all. I’m certain one issue is potential impact from Western North Dakota moving here. We need to be prepared for that eventuality. Any decisions that I make with regard to the needs of the residents and the county services will always be weighted heavily against what will be best long term for all, and not a knee-jerk reaction to the latest supposed crises. HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? If there was anything I learned from the 2011 flood, it’s how much we rely on competent and swiftly acting governmental decisions to ensure the safety of our residents. Having well planned and maintained infrastructure is key to being able to act and react in a competent and swift manner. Now, paying for that infrastructure is of course a matter of ever changing debate. I will work diligently to ensure that property taxes remain at a level that is minimally burdensome to property owners while still maintaining the standard to which the residents have become accustomed. North Dakotans, as much as all citizens, dislike paying taxes. Yet, no one can live in a vacuum and simply provide for their own existence. Roads, bridges, avenues of safe passage all need attention for the common good. Keeping quality high and costs low is a balance that is the target of the changing debate. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? Every elected government official is simply a servant of the people, so whether it is the county, the city or the state – we all need to work together to make decisions that are for the best of the people of North Dakota. In Burleigh County, there are unique needs of rural residents verses Bismarck residents – and those needs require that city and county commissions work together to best serve the people. There’s no doubt that under my guidance, I will work diligently and cooperate with city and county governmental departments to ensure that all citizens receive fair treatment. I have the ability to analyze an issue, debate its merits and at the same time assure my constituency in Burleigh County that it is in their best interests. A huge component of practicing law is finding that compromise that serves the better interests of all, yet maintains fairness and equity for the individual entities.
KATHLEEN JONES - BURLEIGH COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I am running for the Burleigh County Commission because I do believe that life is not what you get but what you give. I have the time and knowledge from working with FEMA and the Burleigh County Water Resource District to move this county forward to assist with improving infrastructure, planning for the future population growth, and building partnership with other counties, private businesses, and individuals to make Burleigh County the première spot in North Dakota to live with family and friends. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? • The first issue is one of developing a VISION of family which includes churches, schools, roads, green space, recreational facilities and businesses. As the county continues to grow there is a growing need for additional business and personnel. This issue needs to be addressed immediately. Burleigh County needs to develop a specific vision of what we want our community to feel like, to be like, and to look like in the next 25 to 50 years. To accomplish a develop plan of the future it takes identification of specific goals, deliberate thought, planning, and focus. It takes getting people involved so that the best ideas come forward and get serious consideration by the community. •
PLANNING for future population growth is very important but having the proper vision for Burleigh County needs serious attention. Burleigh County has a population of approximately 85,000 people. Currently 80% of those people live within the city limits of Bismarck, with approximately 20% living in rural residential areas. The needs of each of those communities have been considerably different in the past. As Rural Residential continues to increase, the needs of people are changing. Burleigh County needs new VISIONS, PLANNING and IMPLEMENTATION to meet our future
INFRASTRUCTURE to improve, maintain, and develop new infrastructure to keep up with the population growth is a must for Burleigh County. The current infrastructure is aging and as the community continues to develop the county needs to prepare and plan to fix, replace and develop new infrastructure.
HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? The immediate need for funding is Burleigh County is roads and bridges. Currently the funding for 85% of the infrastructure is gasoline highway taxes. The County Highway Department receives about ¼ of a mil or for 2014 approximately $83,000.00 from the property taxes collected. Additional funding for infrastructure needs can be obtained with grants from several government agencies. These are some of existing statutes that provide funding. With the rapid growth in the state of North Dakota, these statutes are outdated or inadequate. All County Commissions need to get involved in making a case with legislative bodies as they have means and authority to augment county budgets in this era. HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? Cooperation only takes place when people of good faith deal respectfully with others and give serious consideration to the ideas of others. Burleigh and Morton Counties have been very successful with a respectful and meaningful relationship with the proposal of a new shared jail space. The current commissioners need to continue with their minds to new ideas and new opinions and realize they are building something for future generations. The formula for achieving “intergovernmental cooperation” will work with businesses, and communities as well as government agencies to achieve the greatest good for the community.
JERRY SAUDE - BURLEIGH COUNTY COMMISSION WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR COUNTY COMMISSION AND WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THE POSITION? I served on the 2013 Home Rule Charter Commission for the jail funding issue. I have since decided that it was my civic duty to offer the voters a choice and bring another perspective to the decisions that come before the commission. I work hard for all the groups and activities that I join. It’s what I was taught to do. The qualities I would bring as a Commissioner are a dedication to the issues, a vision for the county growth that will continue to challenge us and a readiness to glean the facts, make a decision and move forward. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE ISSUES THE CITY COMMISSION SHOULD ADDRESS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS? •
Educating the public on how real property is assessed and taxed, including the public sector budgeting process. There are many local entities that levy taxes on our land, our homes and our businesses.
Public safety and law enforcement needs.
Ensuring cost effective county services.
HOW DOES THE COMMISSION ADDRESS FUTURE FUNDING REQUIREMENTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE? • If the voters support a new county jail, a ½ cent sales tax brings together the entire trade region to pay their fair share. Our county jail population is not all home-grown. We drafted the language for the home rule and sales tax to terminate as soon as the bond is paid for. This ½ cent is for one purpose only, a cooperative effort by Burleigh and Morton Counties to pay for the new jail bond. •
There should be a discussion about user fees instead of property tax. One example is recording fees and the limits that can only be addressed by the state legislature. It will take an organized effort by county commissioners in the next legislative session
HOW WOULD YOU PROMOTE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION IF ELECTED? Our local government in the county begins at the organized township level, then cities and finally the county offices. Burleigh County, with a larger urban footprint needs to work together at all levels to consolidate tasks, not duplicate them. We are going to experience great challenges and hopefully great rewards in the next 4 years. I’m ready for that challenge.