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Voice of the people: City Commission hopefuls answer questions during public forum before election

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Left to right, Dickinson City Commission candidates Scott Decker, Shirley Dukart and Klayton Oltmanns prepare to field questions during a forum Thursday at City Hall. The three hopefuls outlined their vision for the growing city in the last public event before June 10 elections, where only two will serve on the commission.

Three candidates vying for two Dickinson City Commission seats told the public why they should be the city’s commissioners.

Incumbents Shirley Dukart and Klayton Oltmanns, and challenger Scott Decker talked up their Dickinson bona fides Thursday during the Dickinson City Commissioners Forum in hopes of winning the election on June 10. The event was hosted by the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce and The Dickinson Press.

Oltmanns said it’s an exciting time in the history to be on the commission and be in this community.

“Four years ago, when I ran for office, the city commission was considering 19 major projects that totalled about $80 million. It’s funny how that looks like the good old days,” he said. “That’s a Monday meeting at the city commission now.”

“Unprecedented growth” was the buzzword of the night, as all three candidates discussed their priorities and plans to handle the city’s expansion and newfound challenges, ranging from affordable housing to taxes and recreation.

As the potential newcomer to the commission, Decker highlighted his military background and leadership training as proof that he deserved the public’s vote next month.

“There’s hard decisions to be made for sure,” he said.

Dukart, sporting a promotional button, told the audience that no matter what their concerns, “I am your voice.”

Roughly 20 community members attended the forum, which was the last public presentation before primary elections. Voter will go to the voting booth in three weeks from today to select two commissioners.

The public was invited to submit questions in the days leading up to the forum. Moderator and Press Publisher Harvey Brock presented the questions to the candidates, who did not hear the questions beforehand.

The submitted questions included inquiries about how to fund public infrastructure projects — like those outlined in the city’s $400 million Capital Infrastructure Improvement Plan — as well as which quality-of-life investments each candidate would like to see the city make. Another submission questioned how the candidates would deal with increasing crime rates if elected.

Though each candidate offered a different answer on to how to deal with such challenges as a prospective leaders, they all agreed that the state — and state oil money — will be needed to support Dickinson in the coming years.

“What’s happening to us is impacted for one reason,” Decker said. “We we won’t kid ourselves; it’s oil. And that oil impact money that’s sitting at the state needs to flow back this way.”

Audience member Irene Schafer said that even though she has worked to collect petitions for Dukart, the forum was an opportunity for the community to listen to and evaluate all three candidates ahead of the vote.

“They all had very good points,” she said. “Enough of the right questions were asked. It helped.”