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Running again: Klayton Oltmanns to run for third term on Dickinson City Commission

At any given Dickinson City Commission meeting, Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns can be seen sitting straight up, intently listening to whoever may be speaking with a look of genuine, slightly joyful curiosity.

Klayton Oltmanns announced to the Press that he will seek re-election for a third term on the City Commission. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)
Klayton Oltmanns announced to the Press that he will seek re-election for a third term on the City Commission. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)

At any given Dickinson City Commission meeting, Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns can be seen sitting straight up, intently listening to whoever may be speaking with a look of genuine, slightly joyful curiosity.

Oltmanns may not be the most outspoken member of the commission, but his comments are always measured, well-researched and sympathetic to other perspectives.

Oltmanns, who has been on the commission since 2010, announced Wednesday he will seek re-election in June 2018.

"I'm very fortunate to work with the commissioners and mayor that I do right now. They are a good group of people," Oltmanns said. "They definitely have the public's interest in mind."

For Oltmanns, the re-election bid comes amid tighter city budgets and more difficult funding priorities now that the oil boom has subsided.

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He believes that this is just the type of environment that where his background in money management and passion for finance can thrive.

Path to Dickinson, and back

As far back as high school Oltmanns dreamed of working in finance, even getting a subscription to the Wall Street Journal so he could devour as much financial information as possible.

It was an unusual passion for someone growing up in Medicine Bow, Wyo., a small mining town in the southeastern part of the state, but Oltmanns had a natural interest in observing stock markets and working with numbers.

He believes that growing up in a small town, where he had a graduating high school class of 10, gave him other skills that proved valuable later in life.

"Living in a small town taught me that everyone in a small town is approachable and no one is better than anyone else," Oltmanns said. "That served me well in life because I grew up in a bubble where you could just approach anyone from the mayor to the superintendent of the schools."

Like many others in Medicine Bow, Oltmanns' father worked in a nearby mine. His mother was a police dispatcher. Mining work has since dried up in Medicine Bow, so the community is not nearly as vibrant as it was when Oltmann grew up there, but it is still home and he returns at least once a year.

Oltmann arrived in Dickinson in 1990 after transferring from a school in Wyoming to study at Dickinson State University.

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"Dickinson was a great community, it had great college," he said. "DSU gave me the tools that I need to succeed in life."

After graduating from DSU, Oltmanns took a job with KQCD-TV as a journalist, also helping out with advertising sales.

He helped start the "Roughrider Report," and while he said the work wasn't necessarily "hard-hitting news," he got to know the community better through covering local events and networking with local businesses.

After a year with KQCD, Oltmanns spent four years in Portland, Oregon, as the dean of admissions for a private college. He liked Portland, with the easy access to beaches and mountains, but knew he wanted to raise his children in a smaller, more closely-knit community.

He and his wife then decided to move with their 2-year-old son back to Dickinson. Oltmanns worked for a few firms in Dickinson before finding his calling in 2009 as a financial adviser with Edward Jones.

"My friend and his wife kept saying, 'Boy, you would really like this,' " Oltmanns said. "I took the plunge and I should have done it right from the start."

Public life

Oltmanns ran for and won a City Commission seat in 2010 because he wanted to ensure that younger generations would be represented in city government.

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"The city was looking at $29 million in city projects. I thought, 'Gosh, this is great but the repayment and responsibility is going to fall on me and future generations,' " Oltmanns said. "At that point I didn't see anyone my age, my demographic making the decisions. I thought I can either gripe about it or I can find a solution, so that's when I ran for City Commission."

Joining the commission in 2010 was a particularly interesting time given the changes brought about by the Bakken oil boom.

"In 2010, Dickinson was still a quiet little town. Things were plugging along but, gosh by 2012 everything just came undid at that point," Oltmanns said. "It was a very interesting time to be on the commission at that point. The decisions that we made during that time would impact Dickinson for a very, very long time."

Commissioner Sarah Trustem-Jennings said she found Oltmanns' background in finance especially valuable to the commission.

"One person that I always look forward to hearing from is Klayton," she said. "He's very articulate in how he voices things and he always has an interesting point of view. I really value his perspective on budgeting and fiscal conservatism."

When Trustem-Jennings was deciding whether to run for a commission seat, she said Oltmanns was encouraging and told her how important it was for new and diverse voices to be on the commission.

"He said to keep an open mind, and make sure that you're doing your research before the meetings," she said. "He was absolutely right. Those are two of the most important factors that go into being a representative."

Oltmanns said one issue he was excited to work on was bringing a better dog shelter to Dickinson.

"We did not have a proper dog pound. Our holding area was horrible," he said. Getting a proper dog pound to Dickinson is "one of the things I'm most proud of for a community this size."

He has also been happy that every decision made by the commission in his tenure has been done publicly and transparently, without the need for closed executive committee meetings.

Besides his work at Edward Jones and on the commission, Oltmanns pioneer activities for the Dickinson community such as Dickinson's Got Talent and Dancing with the Dickinson Stars.

Most of all, though, Oltmanns is grateful to the Dickinson community for what it has provided for him and his family.

"The (Dickinson) community itself has given me a lot of opportunities, all through college and my career," he said. "The City Commission is a good way to give back to the community."

Oltmanns at work in his office in his Edward Jones office in north Dickinson. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)
Oltmanns at work in his office in his Edward Jones office in north Dickinson. (Grady McGregor / The Dickinson Press)

Related Topics: DICKINSON CITY COMMISSION
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