The three finalists for the position of Minot's city manager say they would welcome the opportunity to help guide Minot's growth in the coming years.
Justin Rice, installation inspector general at Minot Air Force Base; Harold Stewart, city manager for Knoxville, Iowa; and Lee Staab of Larkspur, Colo., former president of Versar Engineering and Construction, introduced themselves to the public at a social in the Grand Hotel Monday evening.
Stewart, whose father served with the Air Force, was born in Grand Forks and spent his early years in Minot, attending South Prairie School. The oldest of 11 children, he lived in various states where his family was stationed with the Air Force.
Justin Rice, a candidate for Minot city manager, left, visits with former mayor Orlin Backes at a public social for the candidates Monday.
He has spent the past six years as a city manager, most recently with Knoxville, a community of about 7,400 residents where he and his wife, Andrea, are raising their six children. He has worked for city or county governments in Kansas, Nebraska and Arizona.
Stewart said he enjoys Knoxville but acknowledges the potential opportunity in Minot.
"I am not one to shy away from challenges. There's a lot going on here right now. It would be fun to be a part of it, making sure Minot has a very positive and bright future," he said.
Staab is a Kansas native and marathon runner who spent 28 years in the Army and another seven years largely working for the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates. He was involved in engineering and infrastructure projects while employed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He and his wife, Wanda, now want to settle in the Midwest, where Staab hopes to pursue his interest in city management.
Staab said he is impressed with the community involvement and midwestern work ethic that exists in Minot. He added that he has experience with growth issues like those Minot is experiencing and his approach would be to plan well.
"Make sure the city has a strategic vision so the city grows in a way which is best for the people who have been here a long time plus the new people who are expected to come to Minot in the next few years," he said.
The Air Force introduced Rice, a native of Iowa, to Minot in 1994, and he has spent 14 of the past 20 years here. He's had varied roles in flying B-52s and holding leadership positions in inspection and operations.
"I developed the ability to look at regulations, rules and laws, and determine what needed to be done," he said. "What I really bring to the table here is the leadership and management skills I developed."
Those military skills translate to an ability to apply local rules and laws and determine whether those rules and laws are right for a community, he said. His goal, he said, "above all else is to give the citizens a good value for their tax dollars."
Rice has been involved with youth hockey in Minot and enjoys participating in American Ninja Warrior obstacle course events. He is transitioning from the Air Force and will be fully separated in September. He and his wife, Angie, a Bowbells native, hope to stay in Minot, where they are raising their 9-year-old son and where their two adult children live.