Tom Ross — Minot City Council Q&A
Minot City Council candidate Tom Ross would bring a background of community knowledge and involvement to city government if elected in the June 9 city election.
He is one of five candidates seeking to fill three positions on the council.
Ross, who works at Gooseneck Implement, considers himself passionate about Minot and believes leadership and accountability will be key for the city moving forward. He provided the following answers to questions about city issues from the Minot Daily News.
Does the city need more office space, and if so, what do you feel is the best option to create more space?
At the time I do not believe that more office space is a priority for the City. There are many temporary employees that are currently utilizing office space at City Hall and it is prudent to determine what our needs are based upon permanent positions in order to avoid unnecessary expenses.
What is your position on the council’s decision to terminate City Manager Tom Barry? What should the city do differently in developing a city manager contract and establishing a positive work environment in the future?
I can only assume that the city council’s decision to terminate Mr. Barry was a difficult one. I support their decision and applaud their willingness to make difficult decisions after receiving the investigator’s report. I would not be in favor of such a long term contract that was not considered for more than a few days. I also believe that public comment should have been allowed for such a long term commitment. I think that it is unfortunate that the situation escalated in that way. I believe that these situations could be avoided in the future by keeping an open dialogue with city staff and listening when staff come to council members. One of the things that I hope to bring to the council if elected is an open line of communication with staff.
What would be your goals for the National Disaster Resilience Program as the city works to designate and spend funds by September 2022?
The National Disaster Resilience program is an amazing gift that the city has – but we have to complete the projects in order to receive the benefits. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to prioritize these projects and get the community involved to finish the projects timely. My experience in service clubs and other organizations I have served in has given me vast experience getting large scale projects completed on a short timeline and I believe that this experience will translate well to serving on city council.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the city’s revenues by an amount estimated at more than $6 million, which would be partially offset by a council decision to delay construction of a fire station and City Hall retaining wall. How do you feel the City of Minot should respond to that potential shortfall and what do you see as areas of cost savings that could be either immediate or long term?
The coronavirus pandemic is something that is our community – like the rest of the world – has never experienced. It is important to be aware of the global economy, the current city council voted in favor of entering negotiations to purchase the former Wells Fargo building downtown the same day that oil prices fell to negative numbers. This is concerning. I am in favor of the council collaborating with the department heads in order to determine what projects, purchases, expenses can be delayed. I firmly believe that Minot is a resilient community as shown by its residents time and time again. The downturn we are experiencing now is temporary but it is important to remember that council members are stewards of the taxpayer’s money and we always need to maximize every dollar, not just during a downturn.
What is one initiative or project you would like to see the city pursue in the next four years?
An initiative that I would like to see the city pursue is a program that empowers, encourages, and rewards city employees for being innovative. The employees are really in a great position to find ways to save the taxpayers money through more efficient processes. I want to see the employees being encouraged to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money. An incentive to do these things, the employees need to feel respected and appreciated and rewarding them with a bonus based on a percentage of savings is a reasonable way to accomplish this.
What are your top three priorities when it comes to city spending?
1. Public Safety
2. Maintaining current infrastructure
3. Competitive compensation and benefits for city employees
Please describe your background and the perspectives you would bring to the city council.
I was born and raised in Minot. I am one of six children and come from very hardworking parents. My mother was a registered nurse for 40 years. My father was a heavy equipment operator for close to 40 years and I am proud to say that the buildings that he assisted in building still make up the skyline of Minot. My parents instilled a sense of pride in our community and public service in me at a young age and as I entered into adulthood I was drawn to public service through various organizations.
I have served on the Minot State University Board of Regents, on the Beaver Boosters, as a Minot Public Schools volunteer, and on the Ag Education Advisory Board to name a few. I feel that in order for people to really get a sense of their community it is necessary to get involved and expose yourself to people and ideas that you might not come into contact with in your normal 9-5 day.
Now more than ever it is important for the City to be represented by people with a strong sense of self and strong community ties. I have both. As many people are aware I am not afraid to speak up and advocate for what I believe in. Further, it is important to hold people accountable for their actions and although this can be difficult at times it is necessary in public service. If elected I hope to be part of a new chapter in city government where Minot was able to secure victories in economic development, tourism and quality of life for our residents.