Election 2016 News

Your vote, their words: Q&A with candidates for Bowman city commission

The Bowman County Pioneer asks questions of each candidate for Bowman City Commission.

By BRYCE MARTIN
Pioneer Editor | bmartin@countrymedia.net

The following questions and answers mark the first part of The Pioneer’s engagement with the candidates for public office across the county.

There are four candidates for the Bowman City Commission, with two seats left vacant by Mike Sondeland, who’s not seeking re-election, and Chuck Whitney, who is vacating his seat to run for commission president.

The four candidates, Sonia Campbell, Ryan Shear, Dan Peterson and Myron Vail, were each asked to respond to the same questions.

Unfortunately due to some email problems on our behalf, candidate Ryan Shear did not receive the questions in a timely manner and had limited time on Wednesday, the paper’s print deadline, to provide answers.

We start alphabetically, with Sonia Campbell.

Sonia Campbell, 75

Why are you running to become a commissioner?

I want to serve the city that has been so good to me and my family. Being retired, I have the time to commit.

What is your previous experience with the city commission? Have you ever attended a city commission meeting?

Nothing specific. I’ve attended several meetings to help me better understand how the system works.

What are your feelings regarding the new industrial park?

I have no specific opinion on the new industrial park as I was not able to attend any of the public meetings.

How well do you feel the current city commission operates?  Do you believe they are effective? What are some examples of situations where you disagree with their motions, etc., if any?

With the variety of experience and ideas on the commission I feel they operate well. Yes, they are effective. I have no motions to disagree with.

What do you believe is the role of a commissioner?

To listen to your constituents and try to do the best you can for the city within the limits of what the state will allow.

What city level topics most speak to you? Why?

Fixing infrastructure problems. Maintaining current employees that do such a good job of keeping the city running smoothly.

What leadership experience do you possess?

Postmaster in Bowman and Rhame for 24 years.

What is your vision for the future of Bowman?

Revitalize Main Street.

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing the city at the present time?

Friction between current commissioners. When we don’t work together it drives a wedge between people in the community.

Do you believe in government transparency? How would you work to ensure that all proceedings of the city commission are met with fairness, equality and that the public is aware of such proceedings?

Yes. I feel the meetings already meet these criteria. There is adequate notice of meetings, meetings are open, recorded and published in the paper.

How do you approach controversial issues?

Educate myself on the issue from both sides before I make a decision.

 

Dan Peterson, 47

Why are you running to become a commissioner?

To continue to make Bowman a great place to live, by using my experience as a local business owner, military leadership training and common sense approach to issues.

What is your previous experience with the city commission? Have you ever attended a city commission meeting?

I have attended numerous city commission meetings over the years and feel I have a solid understanding of how local government works.

What are your feelings regarding the new industrial park?

I’m very much in favor of economic development when it makes sense and there is an obvious need. I’m not opposed to the idea of a new industrial park, but not in the location that has been chose. I’m in favor of the county buying the old airport to protect the adjacent land owners, but not spending over $1M for infrastructure that most likely will never be used.

How well do you feel the current city commission operates? 

Fair and open to public opinion.

 Do you believe they are effective? What are some examples of situations where you disagree with their motions, etc., if any?

Spending over $1M of surge funds for the new industrial park infrastructure, when there were no written requirements as to how the surge funds were to be spent.

What do you believe is the role of a commissioner?

An advocate of the citizens of Bowman. This includes fiscal responsibility, listening to constitutes, consider all sides of every issue from every point of view.

What city level topics most speak to you? Why?

Fiscal responsibility. The city lost approximately $10 million in taxable sales, from $41 million in 2014 to $31 million in 2015. How do we adjust and still meet the needs of the community?

What leadership experience do you possess?

16 years of school board experience. 25 years of military experience, to include top leadership positions within the state of North Dakota. Former Bowman County Economic Development Corp. committee board member. Commander of Bowman American Legion post.

What is your vision for the future of Bowman?

Increase and maintain economic growth in the community. Maintain the high level of services being provided to the citizens of Bowman.

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing the city at the present time?

Declining business growth. When the new grocery store is built, there could be at least 7 empty businesses on Main Street. What can the city do to assist the BCDC in recruiting new businesses to fill these empty buildings? Secondly, how does the city maintain its current level of services with less state funds and reduced sales tax revenue?

Do you believe in government transparency? How would you work to ensure that all proceedings of the city commission are met with fairness, equality and that the public is aware of such proceedings?

Transparency is the only way government should be operated. (How would you work to ensure that all proceedings of the city commission are met with fairness, equality and that the public is aware of such proceedings?) I believe that is being done already, so I would support the environment and procedures that are already in place.

How do you approach controversial issues?

Fact finding, when time is available. Case in point is the approach I took before attending the public meetings for the industrial park. However, there are times when issues are sprung on you at a meeting and you have to think on your feet (this has happened a couple times over the years on the school board). You try to gather information as it’s presented and you may not be able to form an opinion until a later date. It’s okay to tell someone with an issue that we will get back to them at a later date, but it’s critical to follow through with it and not keep someone guessing.

 

Ryan Shear, 26

Why are you running to become a commissioner?

I am running for commissioner because the current generation needs to play a role in our community. The leadership of our town has been composed of the later generations in the past. It is time for new ideas and involvement in our community from the younger generation. I also want to make sure our community stays operating on the right track and continues to thrive and grow for many generations to come.

What is your previous experience with the city commission? Have you ever attended a city commission meeting?

I have attended city commission meetings in the past to get educated on various projects and issues the community was facing at the time.

What are your feelings regarding the new industrial park?

I know the new industrial park is a very controversial subject in our community. I feel that Bowman would benefit from an industrial park. We need somewhere presentable for businesses, that wouldn’t be suitable for Main Street, to go. With that being said, I believe that the location chose was not the right decision. First off, it is going to take a lot of money to make the land suitable to build on. Second, the location is out of the way. People don’t want to go out of town, that far, to go to a business. The decision has been made though, so my thoughts are: we work with what we are given.

How well do you feel the current city commission operates?  Do you believe they are effective? What are some examples of situations where you disagree with their motions, etc., if any?

I feel the current and past commission has done a good job running our town. They are effective and tend to justify their actions. Not everyone is going to agree or disagree with every single motion carried out in a meeting. The biggest thing is that the voice of the community needs to be heard before a decision is made!

What do you believe is the role of a commissioner?

The commissioners are in charge of taxation, ordinances, and the general operations of the city. Commissioners are representing the community members. They are the voice of the community when it comes time to make vital decisions for their town.

What city level topics most speak to you? Why?

There are three topics that speak to me the most. First is the industrial park. As I said before, it is a big topic in our community and I want to make sure the citizen’s voices are heard moving forward with the project. Second is the infrastructure. Over the last year Bowman has had a lot of sewer issues. Funding needs to be spent accordingly to assure the necessities are taken care of before projects that could be postponed. Lastly we need to focus on the businesses in our community. We need to make sure the great businesses we have here already feel comfortable doing business here and feel comfortable growing if they need to. Also new businesses should be welcomed into the community to give us a variety to choose from when shopping, rather than going out of town to shop.

What leadership experience do you possess?

My leadership experience I posses comes from managerial positions I have held in my careers. Currently I am the manager of Professional Auto Body LLC/ High Plains Glass & Towing. While being a manager, it has given me great experience of public relations and leadership.

What is your vision for the future of Bowman?

Bowman has a very promising future. We sit in a perfect location where opportunities are always arising. With my new ideas and dedication to our community, I will make sure we get ourselves put out there to be seen and we can continue to be proud to call Bowman, home!

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing the city at the present time?

The biggest challenge the city is facing at the present time is the slump in the economy. With oil prices and farm commodities down drastically, we all feel the pressure. As long as we have eager and ambitious people running our community, we can make it through the tough times.

Do you believe in government transparency? How would you work to ensure that all proceedings of the city commission are met with fairness, equality and that the public is aware of such proceedings?

Government transparency is crucial. The citizens need to be informed about what is happening in their city, every step of the way. Meeting notices need to be posted in the papers and advertized on the radio station. Minutes from the meeting should be easily accessible to all the citizens.

How do you approach controversial issues?

Controversial issues should be approached first, by getting the communities voice on the subject. After all, the commissioner’s job is to represent the citizens. A lot of research needs to be done on the issue before a motion is made. The community also needs to be made aware of the pros and cons of the issue in a community meeting.

 

Myron ‘Tiger’  Vail, 57

Why are you running to become a commissioner?

With careful consideration I have decided to run for Bowman City Commission. Since my wife and I moved back within city limits (yes, my wife is tired of moving), my interest in public service has grown, and I’m not without experience.

What is your previous experience with the city commission? Have you ever attended a city commission meeting?

I previously served on the city commission 20 years ago, and I really enjoyed my time serving the community. My wife and I have been involved in renovating many homes and trying to keep Bowman beautiful.

What are your feelings regarding the new industrial park?

As a lifelong member of this community, I am committed to Bowman. I am unsure of the impact the industrial park will have on the city. I also wonder if it will benefit Bowman, as much as a housing development would have, as there are limited lots available for building homes within the city. Affordable housing for young families is a must for a community to progress.

How well do you feel the current city commission operates? Do you believe they are effective? What are some examples of situations where you disagree with their motions, etc., if any?

I feel that the current commission has done a good job addressing issues in our community. I believe that a commission should be committed and willing to work hard for the community.

What do you believe is the role of a commissioner?

As a business owner I believe it is very important to keep our Main Street vibrant. I think it is very important for the city commission to assist in attracting new businesses and retaining current ones. Each is an integral part of our community.

What leadership experience do you possess?

Along with my previous work on the commission, I have been a member of the Bowman County School Board, and currently serve on my church board.

What do you see are the biggest challenges facing the city at the present time?

I believe one of our biggest challenges will be keeping our budget in check as some of our funding is based off sales tax revenue and oil activity in our state, and we need to be proactive in this matter.

Do you believe in government transparency? How would you work to ensure that all proceedings of the city commission are met with fairness, equality and that the public is aware of such proceedings?

I believe that we should be very transparent in our endeavors and let the community know what is going on in our city.

How do you approach controversial issues?

I believe that I have the ability to tackle controversial issues and discuss them reasonably with other council members.