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  • Summer 2020 Area Election Guide: Candidate Q&A

  • Summer 2020 Area Election Guide: Candidate Q&A

    Summer 2020 Area Election Guide: Candidate Q&A

    North Dakota, get ready to vote! Local elections for our ND cities and Cass County will be held on June 9 this year. To keep you informed and learn more about the candidates, keep reading.

    Summer 2020 election information
    Cass County residents will only have a mail-in ballot option for the Tuesday, June 9, 2020 primary election. Any voter who is listed in the Central Voter File with the North Dakota Secretary of State will receive, by mail starting the week of April 20, the information and necessary documents to request their ballot. Residents who don’t receive this should request their ballot by visiting vote.nd.gov. or casscountynd.gov. Ballots must be postmarked by June 8, 2020.

    Please reference our Asking the Experts article for more details.

    Minnesota’s primary election will be held on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. Watch for future information on candidates and election information.

    Visit our Election Guide page for contested city, county and statewide races and candidate videos. For a full list of candidates, refer to the ND Secretary of State’s page.

    The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but we do want to spread educational information to help our members and the public make informed decisions when heading to the polls. We reached out to all candidates in this election and invited them to submit an answer to the following questions.

    All answers below have been pasted exactly as they were sent to us. No editing has been made.

     

    Fargo City Commission
     
    Tony Grindberg

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    My experience in both the public and private sectors uniquely qualifies me for this position. Skills I bring to city government include, sound fiscal budget planning, public/private partnerships, results driven actions, knowledge of state and federal government, common sense, a vast network and a growth “Jobs” driven mindset.  

    My leadership over the past four years has led to positive changes in city organizational reform, election process, special assessment reform and support for FMWF Chamber of Commerce initiatives.

    How can the City of Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Successful community economic development is a team sport!  The majority of my professional career has been involved with economic and workforce development, “growth” strategies.  Growth is a vital to providing stable government, opportunities for residents and a growing economic climate to live, work and raise a family.  

    The Chamber’s vision for “Fueling the Future” is a great example of how the City of Fargo can partner.   We need to continue working together to accomplish our identified community goals.

    What is your vision for the future of Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    I believe the City of Fargo’s future is poised for future growth and opportunity.   My vision includes a long-held belief that business growth provides opportunities for citizens to allow them to realize their dreams to work, live and raise a family.  

    A flourishing business, entrepreneur, education and healthcare sector is essential for our long-term success. As city leaders, we must set the stage for a productive, thoughtful and compassionate environment for the City of Fargo’s future.

    What do you believe the city should do in order to help our core neighborhoods prosper?
    Our current Core Neighborhood study will provide a roadmap to advance a core neighborhood vitality plan.  The plan is scheduled for release in December, 2020 and will provide citizen led ideas, consensus and a blueprint for each distinct neighborhood.   Financial tools like the proposed Legacy Zone program will provide incentives for financial investment.


    Edward Krystosek

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    •    My time in the military has taught me to think clearly and stay calm in critical situations.
    •    My various employment experience allows me to see things from the perspective of a business owner and an employee.
    •    I have experience in budgeting and prioritizing valuable resources.
    •    I have had to manage personnel in both military and civilian roles.
    •    I obtained my degree later in life while working a fulltime job, being a husband, and father and still managed to graduate Suma Cum Laude.

    How can the City of Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead are all in this together. We are in such proximity that without the Red River, it would be hard to differentiate the city borders. Fargo needs to work with our sister communities to ensure a safe and healthy community. Lowering taxes, special assessments and using our citizens money responsibly will make our communities thrive. People would be more willing to live here, and businesses would thrive because of a vibrant work force and lower operating costs.

    What is your vision for the future of Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    I would like to see Fargo a more affordable place to live and raise a family. This can be achieved through lower taxes and proper management of tax payer dollars. I would like total transparency of city operations and everyone getting the same breaks, home owners and business alike. I would like to ensure that city government safeguards our inalienable human rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, always. Preservation all our constitutional rights is critical to this endeavor.

    What do you believe the city should do in order to help our core neighborhoods prosper?
    Ensure there is affordable housing with adequate infrastructure. Ensure the neighborhoods are safe and appealing places to live. Provide reliable and consistent services such as timely snow removal, flood protection, excellent schools, electrical power and outstanding sewer and water services. Use our taxpayer’s money wisely and not throwing it away by funding wants over the needs.


    Arlette Preston
    Prestonforfargo@gmail.com
    arletteforfargo.com

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    Financial management -- I spent the past 16 years owning and operating my own business giving me an acute understanding of the challenges facing businesses.

    Planning and change management -- I served on the Fargo City Commission for 8 years (1992 – 2000) managing a portfolio of Planning & Development, Health and Police Departments. During that tenure, I led the effort to revise the Land Development Code. I also provided leadership in creating and implementing the first comprehensive downtown redevelopment plan.

    Broad perspective -- Serving on the Fargo Board of Education (2002 – 2006) gave me a solid understanding of the challenges meeting the educational needs of our students.

    How can the City of Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    There are numerous small entrepreneurial businesses growing organically in our communities. They have to be recognized and supported. What form that support takes would need some study. Just opening the door to listen to these business owners – many in the tech industry and other creatives – would be a start. Many of these small, start-up businesses are young professionals who look for a diverse, open, accessible community. The City can, with other partners, help to provide a culture to attract entrepreneurs.

    What is your vision for the future of Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    As a City Commissioner, I will work to ensure thriving neighborhoods, a thriving workforce, and thriving families. We need to:
    -Strengthen our community with more affordable housing options, property tax relief, and incentives to uplift our aging neighborhoods.
    -Ensure living wages, workforce training to meet the needs of the job market and support entrepreneurs.
    -Prioritize childcare access and affordability -- essential for thriving families, thriving neighborhoods and a thriving workforce.

    What do you believe the city should do in order to help our core neighborhoods prosper?
    Support older neighborhoods to remain vibrant, attractive places to live & play. New projects inside existing neighborhoods must be designed to fit into the neighborhoods while allowing for increased density. Ensure healthy housing stock by increasing the incentives to encourage upgrades/improvements to older homes. Implement processes to discourage the conversion of single-family residences to rental units and to upgrade the appearance of current rental units. Ensure the Core Neighborhood Plan is completed and implemented to guide decision-making for redevelopment in established neighborhoods. Strengthen the planning process to support decision-making by the City’s staff, Planning & City Commissioner.


    Bradford Shaffer

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    35 years of construction projects in both the federal, state, and local level. For the last 25 of those years, I have managed the cost of these construction projects. Massive recent cost overruns have cost city taxpayers millions of dollars. Some construction projects have been allowed to break ground without  necessary permits. One of these projects was started, then stopped, then started again. Common sense from an engineering perspective needs to return to City Hall.

    How can the City of Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Stabilize taxes. Past and current City Commissions have taxed and spent money that we now do not have. People will not live where they do not know what their future tax burden will be. Having the bond rating of the city recently downgraded is a huge concern for all citizens.

    What is your vision for the future of Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    I have great confidence in the private sector of both Fargo and this country that we will come out of this current economic crisis and prosper. Spending needs to be controlled by all governments. Solid projections of the tax revenue stream is critical. The new budget that will be established needs to protect the health of our citizens.

    What do you believe the city should do in order to help our core neighborhoods prosper?
    This may sound like a broken record but taxes need to be fair. Fargo has had amazing economic growth in recent years. This will come back. Rebuilding will take vision. Developments in neighborhoods will take place, however economic incentives (tax abatements) likely will be a thing of the past until we recover.


    John Strand

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    Frankly, I’m effective and tell the truth. I dream big and I have a keen ability to enroll others in collective action. That said, our community needs more leaders who emphasize inclusion, who do not focus selectively on those with the most social capital in life, who in fact see greatness and opportunity for the many who get left out when decisions affecting their lives are decided. I fight for those whose voice is not heard, who don’t have a seat at the table, who face hardships and barriers that are too often insurmountable without community support.

    How can the City of Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Shoring up our circumstances during and after the COVID-19 crisis which has wreaked havoc on our community and the world. Jobs, food, shelter, health and public safety, etc. Government as we know it may never be the same and we need to be prepared for that reality. My 12 consecutive years leading the community will be critical to a continuation of policy and action that supports the people, our workforce, our employers, our housing base, and our institutions, while at the same time reinventing our methods to assure prioritized deployment of public resources and also tightening our belts to avoid overburdening taxpayers.

    What is your vision for the future of Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    My service on the commission should amplify the concerns of our residents. This COVID-19 pandemic is a game-changer and my sense is nothing will be “normal” for some time, if ever again.

    Aside from the pandemic, priorities include affordable housing, healthy, vibrant neighborhoods, and responsible fiscal oversight. In addition, Fargo needs to be protected from wildly erratic weather events from floods to droughts. As for the FM Diversion, it’s simply time to reach a resolution with neighbors upstream. We cannot afford the $60-plus million cost escalation for each year of delay, and the lack of protection, plain and simple.

    What do you believe the city should do in order to help our core neighborhoods prosper?
    I’d like to see stepped up incentive programs for rehabbing homes in core neighborhoods, especially, and stepped up incentive programs for new home purchases. As for one key element of securing affordable housing, I will continue working for a successful launch of the Cass Clay Community Land Trust which will ultimately lead to 25 families per year attaining home ownership.
     



    West Fargo City Commission
     
    Roben Anderson
    anderson4wf@gmail.com
    https://www.robenanderson.com
    https://www.facebook.com/anderson4wf

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    I had the opportunity to participate in the leadership development program with my employer. Through that we created purpose statements, mine was “Continuously Study Improvement.” I feel this sets me apart from others because I will always look for ways to improve things, regardless of obstacles. I am analytical, an achiever and highly responsible. These strengths make me unique and I will accomplish what I set out to do. I will look at as much data and information as possible to understand what is happening and make proper decisions to impact all interest groups as positively as possible.

    How can the City of West Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    The City of West Fargo should continue to partner with businesses to fill opportunities in different areas of the city. Like the development happening north of Main Ave and along Sheyenne Street. New businesses are moving in and existing businesses are expanding. To attract more businesses, the City should continue to promote the values of the community, work to develop it further, and partner with businesses to attract members of the workforce to fill open positions. This can be done through marketing materials that talk about reasons why to do business in, live in and work in West Fargo.

    What is your vision for the future of West Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    My vision for the future is to have a city that my children would be proud to raise their families in. We’ve seen this happen many times here in West Fargo with children living in West Fargo and raising their family here. I would love to see increased community engagement with the City and programs, and areas around town where people spend the day shopping and playing. Through partnership with the Chamber, we can engage business leaders and residents through different activities and events to keep moving in a positive direction.

    The City of West Fargo's comprehensive plan "West Fargo 2.0" has received much positive feedback. What's your analysis of the plan?
    It’s great to have a plan and something to help keep focus on all the expansion and growth that has occurred over the last few years. Creating areas in West Fargo where people can live work and play is something that strong communities have and is something I support. The key part for me is maintaining or improving the current high quality of life. I want to ensure that whatever decisions are made ensure that the quality of life is improved for everyone, especially residents directly impacted by any improvements/changes made because of the plan.


    Amanda “Mandy” George
    momsfly@gmail.com

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    I have been a professional pilot for nearly 20 years. The skills I have gained as an aviator translate into many aspects of life. There have been multiple times that I have dealt with emergency situations. In response, you are trained to look at all the known information at hand and make the best possible decision. Of course, in an airplane, you only have seconds to decide and your decision can be life or death. I also co-owned a small flight school for a few years and can relate to the challenges of being a small business owner.

    How can the City of West Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    West Fargo has become a very desirable place to both live and work. I believe that businesses will want to come here if we provide a low, sustainable, predictable tax rate that is fair to everyone. West Fargo needs to be competitive with our neighbors and we need to continue to revitalize our downtown, so I would support reasonable tax incentives. I prefer incentives no longer than ten years, so that they are contributing financially to the community in a reasonable amount of time.  I also think P3, private/public, options are a good way to partner with businesses.

    What is your vision for the future of West Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    I would like our renaissance zone booming with new businesses and have increased growth beyond our current city borders. I would like our degraded infrastructure renewed so everyone has good roads and pipes. And I would like to be green by developing and utilizing mixed use spaces where people can live, work, and eat, all within walking distance. By ending special assessments, implementing a low, sustainable, predictable tax, and supporting the F-M area diversion, I believe that all these things are possible.  With an expanded tax base, then we can have wants as well as needs.   

    The City of West Fargo’s comprehensive plan “West Fargo 2. 0” has received much positive feedback.  What’s your analysis of the plan?
    West Fargo 2.0 provides a visionary look into what the future of West Fargo can be. As a candidate for commissioner it’s a guide that should be studied and followed and provides valuable blueprints that clearly define projects that move the city into an exciting future. There are multiple projects that are important to me from bike trails, to economic development, to updating codes and ordinances to allow for “microhousing”, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to potentially having the opportunity to serve on the West Fargo City Commission and getting to be part of many of these fantastic projects!


    Mark Simmons
    mark.simmonswestfargond.gov

    What necessary and unique skills do you bring to the table?
    I bring alot of experience  to the table. I have been a City Commissioner for 16 years and in that time have had to do alot of negotiating and compromising on issue's. I know the way to get things done at City Hall. I am vary good at listening and understanding other people's concerns and working through them to come up with the best plan.

    How can the City of West Fargo lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    I think we already have by investing in Fuling Our Future along with other cities within our region.

    I believe that we are all in this together, and must collabrate on all issue's concerning our future. Economic Development is the back bone of our future and we must do everthing we can to provide opertunities and good paying jobs. Also investing in the work force acadamy will produce a better work force to fit our area and our needs.

    What is your vision for the future of West Fargo and how would you help take us there?
    One of my vision's for the future is, to keep growing our primary sector jobs and providing good paying jobs. If we can continue down that road, most other jobs will fall into place as well....

    The City of West Fargo's comprehensive plan "West Fargo 2.0" has received much positive feedback. What's your analysis of the plan?
    I like the plan very much. I was very involved with the implimantation of the plan and continue to be a supporter.
     

    Cass County Commission District 3
     
    Al Carlson

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    My experience in both the private and public sector have prepared me for this spot on the commission. I have a proven record of seeking responsible, responsive, cost efficient government.  I am a fiscal conservative who will work tirelessly to find solutions to problems.

    How can Cass County lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Economic Development is a group effort, it takes all political subdivisions working together to get the job done. Businesses seek a stable and predictable tax and regulatory environment. They want an educated work force and an adequate affordable housing supply. We need to work on those issues and businesses will continue to come.  

    What is your vision for the future of Cass County and how would you help take us there?
    All the ingredients are already here. We just need to keep enhancing them. The largest county in the state, at the intersection of 2 interstate highways, exceptional health care facilities, great universities, accessible air travel, a growing hi-tech economy and the list goes on.  We need to keep our eye on the ball and build on our strength—our citizens.

    What role do you believe the county can play in solving our workforce challenges?
    The county has already stepped into work force development with its 1 mil tax to support the Academy.  There is no lack on spending on our Education system. We need to change our model- bring all the education players together. The private sector knows what skills they need—listen to them. Partner with them and give them the work force they need. That’s how our economy and businesses grow.

    Ken Pawluk
    kpawluk@aol.com
    701-238-1808

    What necessary unique skills do I bring to the table?
    I have good common sense and am not afraid to ask tough questions. I respect the taxpayers. I understand that the preparation of the budget is the most important job of the County Commission. It is the blueprint for the following years spending, and the basis for the mill levy and resulting property tax assessments
     
    For fifteen years I have been working on County issues as a Commissioner and a Water Resource District Manager. I see the value in helping the public prevent damage to their property. I understand the countywide water issues. I know the drains and bridges.

    How can Cass County lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Cass County can continue to lead the state in economic development primarily by promoting a good business environment with reasonable property taxes.
     
    The County’s relationship with Fargo Cass County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is the real basis of economic development. As it's primary funding organization, the County holds two seats on their board.
     
    I sit on the steering committee for the Career Workforce Academy, a training center for students interested in non-traditional and industry-specific training. These students graduate with little or no student debt and are ready to move right into the job market in months rather than years.
     
    What is your vision for the future of Cass County and how would you help take us there?
    My vision for Cass County is of a place where there is no disruption of any activity when a spring or summer flood occurs, because of the FM Diversion. I have supported this from the very start. Cass County is viewed as a leader in Counties across the State of North Dakota, and I am proud that Cass is looked to for solutions by other Counties. My vision of the future is to do more of what is working well for the people of Cass County, like continuing to offer technology solutions that allows business to be more productive.

    What role do you believe the county can play in solving our workforce challenges?
    We historically have a very strong economy. This incents business to work on a much needed private/public partnership as the Career Workforce Academy advances. The County is a primary player in this effort and I sit on it's steering committee.

    The economic downturn underway due to the coronavirus outbreak may force us to take a more long-term approach to workforce challenges since we do not yet understand what shape the recovery might take.

    Cass is a good example of local government that quietly works for the people, solves problems, and otherwise gets out of the way for business to flourish.


    Jim Kapitan

    What necessary unique skills do you bring to the table?
    I have an education in construction technology. I have designed and built both residential and commercial buildings. I have 23 years as the Principal Appraiser for the City of Fargo. 18 years as the Airport Manager, I know how to develop a multimillion dollar budget, negotiate leases and contracts. I commanded 125 security and law enforcement personnel for 10 years. I served 8 years as a Fargo Park Board Commissioner and President of the Board twice. I have served as the Human Resource Director for the City of Fargo. I am a Certified Emergency Management Professional. I was a Homeland Security Instructor for 3 years specialized in Incident Command System, NBC. I have 44 years’ experience in Emergency Management. As an Independent Contractor the last 16 years as a State Public Assistance Coordinator for North Dakota

    How can Cass County lead and partner with others to further economic development?
    Cass County has to do a better job working with the City of Fargo when it comes to the TIF and PILOT programs. In the past at the Cass County meetings the county commissioners paid a lot of lip service to the program but in the end reluctant to approve projects that the City of Fargo had approved and brought to the County Commission for their approval. The County has to be more involved with Lutheran Social Services when it comes to the refugee program, as to the cost and the numbers of folks coming to the community. While I welcome them to our community I do think the Commission has the right to know the cost and how many will be here.

    The Commission needs to be in closer contact with the Home Builders Assn. and the Chamber of Commerce in dealing with economic development.

    What is your vision for the future of Cass County and how would you help take us there?
    Cass County consists of 1768 square miles and takes care of 628 miles of roadway and approximately 500 bridges, 274 are in excess of 20’ in length this represents around $20 million per year and increases. I want to make sure that the Cass County Highway Dept. continues to maintain all county roads and bridges in the best manner possible. The Construction Cost index increases annually by about 8%, so it costs about 1.8 million to rebuild just one mile of road.

    I want to insure the sheriff’s department has the personnel and equipment available to him to complete his mission.
    I want to insure affordable housing in the County whether it be a single family dwelling or apartment style.
    I want to insure Tax Equalization on all Properties.
    I want to see the Flood Diversion Project come to a completion sooner than later.

    What role do you believe the county can play in solving our workforce challenge?
    By becoming a partner in the plan that NDSCS has in establishing the workforce academy, along with the city of Fargo, West Fargo, several school districts. The Commission has committed one mill towards the workforce academy in the 2020 budget. But they need to come up with considerably more somehow to make this project fly. The Federal Government and the State need to get on board with this project also.  

    While the county can’t do this alone they can join with other entities such as the Chamber, Home builders Assn. and other organizations to remedy this problem.

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