Rep. Mike Lefor honored with two public service awards
Rep. Mike Lefor, of District 37, reflects on his most recent public service awards.
North Dakota State Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, was recently awarded the 2021 Citizen Advocacy Award by the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Association for his service to the City of Dickinson.
Lefor has spent decades serving the public as a business owner, Dickinson Parks and Recreation Board member and a state representative in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.
“Before I was on the park board, I officiated basketball, volleyball and softball. I was very involved at an early point in time. I was probably 20 when I officiated my first park and rec game,” Lefor said. “Then in 1986, I wanted to become part of something to give back to the community because I was so involved early on. And I’ve worked on a lot of different projects in parks and recreation over the years.”
Lefor emphasized that he has strived to maintain the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department as an uplifting pillar of the community. He pointed to the construction of an ice skating rink that began in the early 1990s as an example.
“Attitudes in the community were very negative because of the oil bust in the late '80s. It caused a lot of repossessions, foreclosures and so forth. I remember our director at that time, Doug Jaeger, telling me, ‘Mike, you know in parks and recreation we’re in the stress business. We’re where people go to relieve their stress by having fun.' So I’ve always remembered that from many, many years ago,” Lefor said.
He also made a point to acknowledge the leadership of current Executive Director James Kramer.
“I can’t say enough good things about the leadership. Whether it’s the park board, the executive director or the staff, they really in my opinion are second to none,” Lefor said. “Kramer’s a phenomenal leader. He’s had a lot of people that worked there for many, many years. It’s like you’re part of a family because you go and you work beyond the normal 40 hours a week, whether there’s something that’s on a weekend or a Sunday. I remember when we got thousands of dead fish on Patterson Lake. It was just very, very ugly and people wanted to know what we were going to do about it.”
Lefor said it was a unifying moment for the community.
“Parks and recreation came together to get people in the community to get the dead fish out of that lake. When the community comes together, a lot of things get accomplished,” he said. “Just about anything that’s ever happened here is because we truly live in a community where people have can-do spirits, take a great deal of pride in the quality of life that we have and how we can continue to advance that quality of life for the people that live here.”
Lefor also won the City Champion Award from the North Dakota League of Cities for his legislative efforts to support political subdivisions so they don’t have to lean so heavily on property taxes for infrastructure funding.
“Sen. (Rich) Wardner, the majority leader, has done a wonderful job putting plans together, which I’m glad to have been part of," he said, adding that initiative has allocated money for infrastructure.
While not at the State Capitol, Lefor stays busy as a Dickinson business owner.
“I own Blue 42, my son owns Green 19 Grill at the golf course. Then we have a commercial and residential real estate investment company called Blackridge Enterprises; I serve as president of that organization,” he said.
He said relaxing sounds nice, but it’s just not something he’s inclined to do.
“I always thought that I’d be able to kick back a little bit, but I guess that’s not how I’m wired. I like to see things get done,” he said, adding that his wife and family made it all possible.
“If it wasn’t for the help and understanding of my wife and my family (I wouldn’t have been able to do it). I spent many hours not at home,” he said. “The last eight years in which I’ve served in the Legislature, I had this strong and fantastic support from my wife Sherryl."