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Dickinson voters choose Decker for mayor

Dickinson voters chose a new mayor and City Commission member Tuesday. Scott Decker was voted in as City Commission president -- and the unofficial title of mayor -- after spending two years serving on the commission. The 49-year-old former U.S. ...

Dickinson City Commissioner Scott Decker, a 49-year-old retired military officer, is one of three men running for city commission president, the position that functions as mayor of Dickinson. (Press Photo by Dustin Monke)
Dickinson City Commissioner Scott Decker, a 49-year-old retired military officer, is one of three men running for city commission president, the position that functions as mayor of Dickinson. (Press Photo by Dustin Monke)

Dickinson voters chose a new mayor and City Commission member Tuesday.

Scott Decker was voted in as City Commission president -- and the unofficial title of mayor -- after spending two years serving on the commission.

The 49-year-old former U.S. Army officer described the victory Tuesday night, in which he won just shy of 52 percent of the 3,389 votes cast, as “a surprise, but welcome” and praised his opponents Klayton Oltmanns, a fellow commissioner, and Rod Landblom for well-run campaigns.

Decker said he was grateful for the support he’d received and that it was “time to get to work.”

“Now we got to sit down as a commission and start work on the budget coming up and go from there,” he said. “I think it’s important that the people get a feeling for where we’re headed in the future.”

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Decker’s campaign focused largely on Dickinson’s ongoing budgetary issues. The city took on a considerable amount of debt in the oil boom years to address infrastructural updates built to address the impacts of boom activity.

While his opponents also spoke to the budget as their top priority, Decker’s campaign emphasized a fiscally conservative tone from an early point. Moving forward, Decker said he was ready to get started.

After the dust settled Tuesday and the results were announced, Oltmanns, who netted a little more than 22 percent of the total with 753 votes, said he was “very glad” for his commission peer.

“(Decker) ran a very good race and as much change will take place on the commission, it’ll be nice to have the consistency of having someone who’s already a commissioner in that position,” he said.

Oltmanns, a commission member of six years, will keep his commission seat for the two years remaining in his current term. He said during the campaign that he had intended to run for the mayor’s seat for the past two years and believed his experience on the commission was his strongest qualifier for the office and the trait that best set him apart from his opponents.

During the race, Oltmanns said the major points of his campaign were rooted in the city’s budgetary standing and its long-term planning laid out officially in the city’s development guide called Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future. Oltmanns said Tuesday he was happy to have a new mayor who was in touch with the city’s path.

“Part of my biggest fear was that we’d get someone who didn’t know the direction we were going and what lies ahead,” he said. “I’m very pleased with Scott.”

Landblom, who took 25 percent of the total with 870 votes, also congratulated Decker and wished him the best in office. Like his opponents, Landblom also had City Commission experience, though he spent a much briefer time in office and resigned shortly after winning his seat due to a potential conflict of interest.

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During the mayoral campaign, Landblom stated he was running against the two commission members to give voters an “alternative option.” Though he also spoke to the importance of the budget, Landblom also ran on the issues of maintaining the “integrity of single-family housing” in a rapidly developing city and turning the city’s focus to infill rather than continuous expansion of borders.

Landblom said, looking forward, he’d move on to enjoying his retirement.

“I had to give the public an option and obviously they didn’t take to it,” he said. “That’s the way it goes.”

Incumbent Steiner and newcomer Jennings win City Commission seats

Joining Decker and Oltmanns on the commission will be the winners of the City Commission election, incumbent Carson Steiner and newcomer Sarah Jennings.

Steiner, Jennings and Fridrich had been competing for two open seats made available by the ending of commission terms for Steiner and his counterpart Joe Frenzel.

Jennings, 26, received 1,962 votes, a little more than 33 percent of the 5,862 total votes cast. On Tuesday night, she said the victory “feels amazing.”

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“I think it really speaks volumes for Dickinson to elect a young woman,” Jennings said. “I never felt one time that this race was going to be easy or that I had an advantage and I’m really excited for the outcome.”

Jennings is a former aide to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and the youngest candidate across the entirety of the city and county ballot. She spoke throughout her campaign to the importance of investing in quality of life improvements and attracting young families to the area.

Steiner, who received the most votes of the three with 2,070 votes, 35 percent of the total.

He said he wanted to thank the voters for their confidence and his opponents for their participation. Looking forward, Steiner said he was planning simply on “going back to work.”

“Nothing stops with the city. Gotta get up and go tomorrow,” Steiner said. “I’m looking forward to working with Sarah and Scott Decker as the mayor. I don’t think we’ll skip a beat, we’ll just keep going and I feel good about it.”

Fridrich, who finished third with 1,820 votes, a little more than 31 percent of the total, said his post-election mood was “a little somber,” but he was happy for both Jennings and Steiner.

He commented on the closeness of the race and said he’d regroup to consider another run in the future.

With Decker’s election to commission president, his former seat will likely be open to election, possibly for the general election in November. Fridrich said his future plans depend on how the commission decides to fill that role.

“If they have somebody re-run in November for the open seat Scott’s going to vacate, we’ll think about it then,” Fridrich said.

Related Topics: DICKINSONELECTION 2016
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