Peggy Thomas O’Brien, general manager of Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson, has announced her candidacy for City Commissioner on a platform of fiscal responsibility, addressing the infrastructure needs of Dickinson and focusing on debt reduction.
According to O’Brien, the need for experienced leadership embodied with conservative and Christian values are critical for Dickinson and something she brings to the table.
“We are really facing a time of uncertainty right now,” O’Brien said. “The impacts of COVID-19 on our community, state, country and world will have consequences that we don’t know and there is no doubt that our city’s budget is going to be profoundly impacted by this.”
According to O’Brien, her experience in managing finances for the Prairie Hills Mall and as vice president of the executive board for the Stark Development Corporation has been a tremendous educational experience and one that she believes provides her with the ability to listen, learn and lead the community as a commissioner.
“I’m confident in my abilities when it comes to working with a budget, because I’ve had to do that my entire life. I’ve had to do that here at the mall for many years and we’ve faced financial challenges when we’ve had businesses go bankrupt and pull out, when the oil was hot and when it was not. To me, that fiscal and budgetary experience is vitally important for times like this.”
A lifelong resident of Dickinson, O’Brien said she was pleased to see the younger people interested in government — but argued that experience was most needed as the city moves into the recovery phase post-COVID-19.
“I am conservative, and I’m fiscally conservative at that,” she said. “I’m 62-years old. I have lived a lot of life in comparison to the others running, and experience is important. Having the reputation that I have to deal with tough decisions is important.”
O’Brien was adamant that faith was a focal point of her life and a catalyst for her decision to launch her campaign.
“Faith is very much a part of my life. I can’t imagine trying to navigate our world without a solid faith in Christ and a trust in knowing that He is there whenever I call out. I can count on him,” O’Brien said. “I do not start a day without reading my Bible and without prayer. I’ve had several people that approached me, over and over again, to run.”
O’Brien said she began to ponder on the promptings of her faith and wanted to be certain that running would be something that aligned with her religious beliefs and responsibilities.
“I asked my family and friends to join me in praying for direction,” she said. “The City Commission is a very big responsibility and I wanted to make sure that I was being obedient to what God wanted in my life, and what he wanted for the city of Dickinson.”
This campaign marks the second attempt by O’Brien for a commission seat, having previously sought election in 2016. In that election O’Brien lost by a narrow margin to current commissioner Jason Fridrich in a race for the vacant seat temporarily held by Mike Lefor.
Four candidates have announced their candidacy to date, O'Brien, Sarah Trustem, Suzi Sobolik, and John Odermann. All candidates are vying for two seats — one vacant seat left by Carson Steiner and one seat with incumbent Trustem.