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Know your Dickinson commissioner candidates

One of the most high-profile elections this Tuesday for the area will see three candidates vying for two City Commission seats.

Current commission members Shirley Dukart and Klayton Oltmanns will face off against second-time candidate Scott Decker, who previously ran in 2012.

The three candidates spoke at a May public forum held at Dickinson City Hall, where members of the community submitted questions on everything from housing to taxes to oil money.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Decker, Dukart and Oltmanns discuss why they’re running and what they hope to do if elected. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Scott Decker

Terms served: Would be his first time serving; ran in 2012 against commisioners Carson Steiner and Gene Jackson.

Why are you running for City Commission? Honestly, the reason is I just think we need a younger generation, a voice. I know I’m probably the same age as Klayton (Oltmanns), but I think I’m younger than most of the others. I think it’s time that our generation steps up and starts leading. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. After I retired, a lot of people asked me to run for office.

Campaign strategy: Going out, talking with people, seeing their concerns, and just meeting people in the street, talking to them. I’ve got some signs out. The biggest thing is meet people and talking to them about their concerns. A lot of people have been talking to me about concerns; I’m just listening.

Three biggest issues facing Dickinson, and how you will address them if elected: Taxes are always an issue with people in town. Being on the commission I think working with the state, working with the county within different elements of the city, keeping the tax rate as it is. That’s a big issue that a lot of people have brought up: their property tax, taxes that they’re paying in general.

Housing is a huge issue. I see housing as an issue of supply and demand, but as the commission we can work with organizations to build some affordable housing. We’ll have to work with the state, too, and reiterate that the problems that we’re addressing in Dickinson are directly impacted by oil. Oil is not a bad thing; it’s one of the greatest thing to happen to the state. We need to have the moneys that are impact-designated come to our cities and our counties to address issues we’re having.

One of the biggest things is education for our children — setting it up right and doing the right things. That’s something the commission can do: work with the state board out there, and the land trust, to get some moneys to help us. That will help us with our taxes.

One other thing I want to work with, a big thing, is I would really like to see a new armory for the city of Dickinson. It’s something that our troops deserve — they’ve outgrown their facility.

Traffic in town is also a big issue. That’s on the table all the time.

What should be the commission’s role in handling the rapid changes in the community? Providing guidance is the biggest thing: guidance to the city administrator, city attorney and engineer on how things need to be done, what pace we need to move at, making the right decisions, making the hard decisions. They’re not going to be popular with everybody, just so we can move the city forward.

Shirley Dukart

Terms served: Two two-year terms, now running for a 4-year term

Why are you running for re-election City Commission? Because I feel the community needs my voice. I’m well known in the community, I’m very involved in the community and three of my four children and their families live here.

Campaign strategy: I had buttons and pens and sent out a postcard to every home, including PO Boxes — everyone in city limits. I’ve been out and about at different events, meeting different people, letting them know that’s who I am and to please vote for me. I had an election promotion booth at the Chamber (of Commerce) first annual ice breaker. I’m hoping it turns out great on Tuesday. I’m hoping everyone knows me well enough that that’s all I had to do.

Three biggest issues facing Dickinson, and what is your plan on addressing them if elected to the commission? There’s so many. Snow removal. Manage growth. Housing. They’re all together, period. We have to encourage the legislature to give us more money, to help us manage the growth. Also more funding for income-based housing. Snow removal: we have to work out a plan where we have contractors ready to come in when we do have a storm. I know it’s expensive, but we have to come up with a plan; with the growth we have it’s not very profitable for businesses when they have to shut down for a whole day.

I know we’ve come a long way, and actually it’s the first time we’re going into a huge debt, but we’ll come out of it by managing and especially by working on our budget. Public safety is always No. 1.

What should be the commission’s role in handling the rapid changes in the community? We have to address issues with developers, work with Planning and Zoning and the county. Then the builders need to work with our engineers. Once everything’s in place it’s up to us and the commission to approve it. We’ve got manage that budget, I’ll tell you what. We do not want to raise taxes.

Terms served: One four-year term

Why are you running for City Commission? I am running in order to follow through on what started during my term. As a community we are experiencing incredible growth. The commission established a Road Map to the Future in our 2035 plan to address these concerns and needs. I think it is important to elect a commission that is familiar with what has happened up to this point and what needs to happen moving forward.

Campaign strategy: I am letting my record, accessibility and genuine concern for our community speak for me. I feel very proud about the impact that I have made in the last four years. I have been attending some meet and greets, participated in the candidate forum and have done some limited signage. This is a very different campaign from when I ran four years ago and there were six candidates for two positions. I am not as focused on campaigning as I am on addressing the concerns for our community.

Three biggest issues facing Dickinson, and your plan to address them if elected: Keeping up with infrastructure and capital improvement projects. In order for our community to grow and for housing and apartment prices to drop, we have to get ahead of the building curve.

Funding these (building) projects and securing financing, grants and state participation to pay for them — as a commission, we have been proactive by prioritizing the needs, planning the projects and working them into our long-term budget.

Quality of life, quality of place — for all the growth and new opportunities that or community is experiencing, there are also some negative impacts. I would like to see managed growth, sound financial decisions and that as the growth levels out, we are left with a community that we can all be proud of and be glad to call home.

What should be the commission’s role in handling the rapid changes in the community? We have a strong city staff and management that is very proactive. The commission relies on their expertise in guiding the future of our community, so our first role is to dig into the information that is presented at our commission meeting, do the the research and make a good informed decision.

As a commissioner you are the voice of the people in this community. It’s important to listen and utilize citizens and their concerns in making decisions. I am proud of the fact that in four years of being on the commission, I have not had to abstain from a vote because of a conflict of interest. That is not an easy task in a community our size. It is an edge that I have in really being able to be an unbiased voice of our citizens.