Candidates outline priorities for city council

Flood control is a priority for Minot’s city council candidates, but there’s much more they would like to see addressed.

The six candidates for the three open seats on the June 12 ballot replied to a Minot Daily News questionnaire to talk about their priorities and thoughts on a variety of issues facing the city. Lisa Olson, Mark Jantzer and Stephan Podrygula are seeking re-election while Paul Pitner, David Shomento and Edward Montez are seeking to join the council. Shomento had previously served on the 14-member council, while Montez ran for council last year.

Olson said the projects in the National Disaster Resilience Program would be her priorities, particularly affordable housing.

“I am excited to see the development of the Gathering Space and I am hopeful that this will be another draw to downtown Minot. A tech center in downtown Minot could also serve as an opportunity for citizens to receive training, which would afford them opportunities in various careers. The clock is ticking for NDR, so the City Council will need to keep all of the projects on the front burner so that we can create a resilient community,” she said.

“The commission needs to act as the caretakers to the city,” Pitner said. “We need to ensure Minot is a fun, safe, diverse, and welcoming community that continues to grow and progress in every way. We need to act as ambassadors to the rest of the state and need to do everything in our power to pull in new businesses that can offer a diverse variety of goods and services. I think the Minot council needs to take a step back and look for other ways to fund projects; the answer should not always be ‘raise taxes.'”

Podrygula said his first goal would be to eliminate more mistakes like the parking ramps and, secondly, to spend tax dollars more wisely, including investing in employees and giving them tools to be more efficient. He also wants to continue the process of reform that started with the 2017 vote to change the size and makeup of the council.

“To me, the process of government (e.g., transparency, accountability, citizen involvement, etc.) is just as important as any specific program or objective,” he said.

Shomento said he supports a fair wage for city employees to avoid the high turnover.

“We need to look into establishing term limits in order to bring in new people and ideas to the city council. This could help eliminate the stigma of ‘the good old boys,'” he said.

Jantzer said his priority centers around the budget and doing what needs to be done without raising property and sales taxes beyond what citizens can tolerate or what turns out to be bad for business. He supports moving forward with the Northwest Area Water Supply Project, adequately compensating city employees and maintaining essential city services and infrastructure.

He also supports preparing for the redevelopment of downtown once Trinity vacates its buildings.

“The mayor and council with the city manager can take the lead in gathering stakeholders to work on a plan for the Trinity buildings and downtown. This a big challenge and a great opportunity. We need to work together,” he said.

Montez cites the importance of maintaining necessary city services and continuing the course to address opioid issues.

He added, “We must take into consideration Minot’s growth and making sure we are flourishing as a community. If we spend too much time and money on a single focus, the long-term effects can be disastrous. The council should put more efforts into the city’s public image, especially concerning areas of cost of living, safety and economic development. The city should also continue to expand its use of current technologies to collect and understand the needs and wants of its citizens.”

Montez also suggests placing proposed budget cuts on the ballot to give the voters a chance to voice their views.

Olson and Jantzer would investigate combining the city recreation department with the Minot Park District to determine whether it is possible to improve services and save costs.

Shomento supports eliminating the Renaissance Zone, charging private garbage collectors more to use the city’s landfill and imposing up to another 2 percent in sales tax to fund flood protection.

Pitner believes the city needs to be willing to rely more on the private sector by subcontracting more tasks. He also stresses the need to create a positive environment for business through incentive programs.

“We need to do as much as we can to encourage investment from businesses and I would love to see these programs, if not grown, then in the very least utilized to their full potential,” he said.

Montez added he would like to discuss with downtown businesses that benefit from tax incentives and the parking ramps the possibility of using a percent of their profits to make the parking structures free to the public.

Full responses from the candidates to the entire Minot Daily News questionnaire can be found online at minotdailynews.com by selecting the Election 2018 link on the home page.

Minot will have a single polling place on June 12 in Minot Municipal Auditorium. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting will take place Monday through Friday, June 4 to 8, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Rooms 106 and 108 in the Ward County Administration Building.