Three seek mayor’s seat

Mayoral candidate Shaun Sipma favors long-term planning and visioning. Candidate Tim Mihalick wants the city operated as a business. Candidate Nancy Bommelman supports an end to foolish spending.

Minot voters will choose from the three candidates at the June 12 city election to replace outgoing Mayor Chuck Barney. Sipma, an insurance agent, is a current member of the council. Mihalick, a bank business development officer, and Bommelman, who works for a local home improvement store, are making their first bids for public office.

“Long-term planning is critical,” Sipma said in response to a Minot Daily News questionnaire provided to all candidates. “The long-term plan has been absent for too long and needs to be part of the ongoing visioning. We do need to focus on our city’s work force stabilization as the direct and indirect cost of turnover is costing more than any savings done through pay increase delays that passed in the 2018 budget.”

Mihalick said there needs to be innovative ideas to address the budget while maintaining the position that there will be no tax increases.

“Focus on increasing revenue by growing the economic tax base,” he said.

“We need to look at cutting the budget and quit spending money foolishly,” Bommelman said. She objects to building and expanding rather than using existing facilities more fully.

Sipma looks to the report coming from the International Economic Development Council in June for advice on how to more fully utilize city resources to gain better outcomes.

“The biggest efficiency we can gain as a city will be moving away from the growth model based around urban sprawl and instead focusing on interior development and redevelopment. We have already invested substantial dollars into an infrastructure that is now expanded and in place with thousands of undeveloped lots that are not being fully realized on the property tax roll. Infilling our city with development before further expansion will be the biggest efficiency we can make as a community,” he said.

“The automated trash collection system is a prime example of using technology to improve services while reducing costs to the city,” Mihalick said. “I know there has to be other departments that can accomplish this same thing.”

He said he hopes to challenge department heads to identify savings.

“I want them to look at their department as a profit center and treat it like a business. Be cognizant of expenses and maximize production,” he said.

“Our houses are depreciating and our taxes are going up. People are tired of it and want a change,” Bommelman said.

“We have to look at all aspects of city government, whether it be garbage, street department or whatever, and try and make everything more efficient,” she added. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m going to make everybody happy, but I would like to try and solve it and see where we can cut money. I think I can be on the middle ground, where I think I can make a difference. I think I can make a happy medium here for everybody.”

As for any increase in sales tax, Mihalick and Bommelman issue a resounding no, while Sipma notes it’s an unreliable revenue stream that taxpayers aren’t likely to support increasing.

“If it was for property tax subsidy, then no, I would not support it,” Sipma said. “If the leadership body did decide to propose an increase, I would propose that it go before the community for a vote.”

Candidates also have a vision for the city beyond tax issues.

Bommelman said her priority issue is to take care of police and firefighters.

“These heroes risk their lives for us, and we are not taking care of our own. That’s why people keep leaving,” she said. “They are taking care of us. Let’s take care of them.”

Mihalick calls for an attitude change, with increased communication and transparency by the city.

“Operate the city as a business. We have challenges in front of us that are going to require an experienced business leader and I have that experience,” he said. “I intend to lead the council to make fiscally and socially sound decisions, which I believe will bring the magic back to Minot.”

“One significant issue that the mayor has to be centered on is our community’s own self image,” Sipma said. “We live in a great city and we need to remember why it is we choose to live here and why we are proud to be a Minotian. Turning the self-image tide will require a mayor with not only charisma but one who has and continues to play a significant role within our community outside of being mayor.”

He also would seek a unified voice and vision coming from City Hall and strong communication coming from leadership to the community.

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. Scroll down the right-hand column on the home page for the link.

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.