March 21, 2012

Local elections drawing few candidates

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

There has been a mixture of feelings in the air since the start of the Bakken oil boom in western North Dakota. With those feelings have come a myriad of questions surrounding the boom and its duration and queries concerning the future of McKenzie County and the schools, cities and townships therein.
Therefore, the fact that this is an election year should cause area residents concerned about the future of McKenzie County to rise up and get involved in leadership, especially since many of the incumbents that currently hold expiring city, school and county leadership terms do not plan on seeking re-election.
“Based on my daily conversations with residents, people do have concerns about traffic, new housing growth, police coverage, water quality, garbage service and street maintenance,” states Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor.
According to Sanford, there is no better way to help local communities take shape in these changing and uncertain times than through public office.
“For those interested in policy formulation, City Council is where it happens,” states Sanford. “And with the growth we are facing, the next few years will be very important in plotting the future of our town.”
But Sanford’s statement holds truth that extends beyond Watford City, which is why he goes on to say that, “The School Board and County Commission have equally daunting tasks in dealing with the growth.”
With so much of McKenzie County being impacted by the oil boom, local governments and schools need interested and invested individuals to run for local government. And fortunately, it’s not too late.
Watford City has three four-year term city council incumbent seats up for re-election, Justin Voll, Deanne Valenzuela and Bruce Erickson. And at least one, Valenzuela, will not be seeking re-election.
Any Watford City resident interested in running for city council is no longer required to worry about which ward they are from when considering their eligibility. As of this year, Watford City will have one ward.
Watford City also has two people on the park board whose term will expire, Peni Peterson and Doug Bolken, both of whom are planning to seek re-election.
The City of Alexander is facing a mayoral election this year as incumbent Kay Glick’s term will expire and she is not planning to run for re-election.
Alexander also has two four-year councilman positions for election this year. The incumbents, Terrille Jacobson and Dusty Bratsberg, are planning to run for another term.
For the City of Arnegard, two four-year councilman seats will expire and it is unknown whether the incumbents, Tim Homiston and Milt Hanson, will run again.
Arnegard also has two park board positions with incumbents, Bekki Larson and Amanda Kindel, choosing not to seek another term.
McKenzie County has three commission seats expiring this year and it is unknown whether incumbent Richard Cayko will run again. Incumbent Ron Anderson, however, does plan to seek re-election.
“There is a lot of work to be done for the county,” Anderson states. “We’re trying to work hard with the state Legislature and the governor to let them know how great the needs are for McKenzie County.”
But incumbent Dale Patten, though he, too, feels the needs of the county are great, worries he would be doing the county a disservice by seeking another term.
“There is a lot going on both with the bank and the county,” states Patten. “I don’t feel like there’s enough time to do justice to both positions.”
McKenzie County Auditor Linda Svihovec and McKenzie County Treasurer Cheryl Grantier are both up for election this year. Svihovec and Grantier were appointed to their positions for a period of two years. They are both required to seek election for the remaining two years of their position’s four-year term, which they plan on doing.
McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 has four four-year terms expiring in this election year. Pat Fitzgerald for Area Five is the only incumbent planning to seek another term. Incumbents Jerry Samuelson for Area One, Brent Arnegard for Area Two and Three and Kelly Norby for Area Six will not be running for re-election.
“I’ve been on for eight years, and my kids are long out of school,” Samuelson states. “It is time for me to let someone else step up and I really hope that someone does. The school is facing many decisions concerning expansion and building and it’s an important time to be involved in school leadership.”
The Alexander School District No. 2 has two four-year terms becoming available and both incumbents, Jessica Cayko and Jason Rau, plan to seek re-election.
“Hopefully, anyone with an interest in local government will step forward and at least ask what elected office entails,” states Sanford. “We need people with a passion for our community to step forward and volunteer a few hours per month and help plan our future.”
Time is running out for candidates who intend to run for city or county office or for their local school board.
Candidates running for county office must file a Petition/Certificate of Nomination, an Affidavit of Candidacy, and a Statement of Interest with the county auditor. Those running for city office must file a Petition/Certificate of Nomination and a Statement of Interest with their respective city auditors.
Persons running for school board positions must file a statement with their name and the position for which they are a candidate and a Statement of Interest with their respective school district business manager.
Forms are available from the filing officer or from the Secretary of State’s Election web site:
Interested individuals will need to contact the appropriate filing officer for the minimum/maximum number of signatures needed for petitions for city and county positions. The last day a petition can be filed is 4 p.m. on Friday, April 13, 2012. The last day to file a Legislative Certificate of Write-in Candidacy is 4 p.m. on Friday, June 8, 2012.