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Dickinson City Commission candidates converse

Press Photo by April Baumgarten Retired Sgt. 1st Class Scott Decker of the National Guard and Dickinson City commissioners Gene Jackson and Carson Steiner debate at the City Commission Candidate Forum Thursday at City Hall. The three will run against each other for two four-year terms Nov. 6.

While Dickinson will face many challenges in the next four years, it will also have an opportunity to become "the new and improved Dickinson," three candidates for two Dickinson City Commission seats said Thursday at a candidate forum at City Hall.

"The biggest opportunity ... is providing our citizens with a quality of life that we've probably never had before," retired Sgt. 1st Class Scott Decker said. "I think we have to embrace. If we keep pushing it away it is just going to push back harder."

Commissioners Carson Steiner and Gene Jackson will defend their seats against the former National Guard recruiter for southwest North Dakota.

The forum was sponsored by the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce and American Bank Center in Dickinson. Two of the three will be elected to a four-year term unless defeated by a write-in.

Decker has not run for public office, but said his 21 years in the military will serve as an advantage.

Jackson will rely on his engineering and commission involvement, he said. Steiner also said his 12 years as a commissioner will help, but he cited his experience during the North Dakota oil boom and bust of the 1980s as a factor.

"I feel like I learned to listen to what people had to say," Steiner said. "We've gone through a lot of challenges over the last 12 years, and as I mentioned before the next four years are going to be more challenging than the last 12 together."

The contenders focused on housing, traffic and city staffing issues, citing the need for a proper mix of temporary and permanent lodging, attracting individuals to work in the public sector and using a bypass to get truck traffic out of town.

"I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make in the next few years is to build permanent housing for that portion of the new people coming to Dickinson that will be a temporary workforce," Jackson said. "The growth that we are seeing means we have much to talk about in this community and so much to do in the next four years."

Mayor Dennis Johnson will also seek re-election for his seat Nov. 6, and Shirley Dukart will run uncontended for the two-year term, a spot held by Commissioner Joe Frenzel who will not seek a second term. Johnson and Dukart were not at the debate.