From start to finish
In 1974, David Waind got his first taste of city government as a college intern with the City of Minot. That six-month exposure to Minot left him eager to come back, and it didn’t take him long to do so. Now, 40 years later, he’s ending his career in city government in the same place it started.
A retirement party will be held for Waind, 62, who is stepping down as Minot city manager, Friday at 2 p.m. in City Hall.
Having experienced the best of times and the worst of times, almost simultaneously, Waind leaves a city still rebounding from a major flood while experiencing some of its strongest growth ever due to the regional oil activity.
“It’s the right time for me to be going,” he said. “Sometimes a new person coming in will bring new ideas. They will bring new concepts. … There is so much growth on our horizon that I think that’s a good thing. It’s good for me because the time is right, but I also think it’s good for the community.”
He said he is leaving with no regrets about having chosen Minot.
“I have had a good run,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better career. I have really enjoyed this.”
He plans to pursue other interests, although he’s not yet identified what that might be beyond fixing up his house at Lake Metigoshe that will become his year-round home and spending more time with family. He and his wife, Charise, have three children and six grandchildren.
A native of Milton and Langdon in northeastern North Dakota, Waind earned a public administation degree from the University of North Dakota. After his internship in Minot, he applied and was accepted to law school. But he knew that wasn’t where his heart was, so he instead went to work for the Bureau of Governmental Affairs at UND.
He worked on special projects for the bureau for a couple of years. He then went to Hillsboro to manage a grant for downtown renovation and later became the city auditor there before returning to UND for graduate studies. While at UND in 1979, a job opened for city clerk in Minot, and Waind jumped at the opportunity to go back.
“It doesn’t take long before you have roots in a community,” he said of the next 35 years in one place. He served as clerk and human resources manager, later holding the title of assistant city manager under then city manager Robert Schempp.
The clerk position gave him a familiarity with the city council and city issues.
“I enjoyed that,” he said. “That’s why when I got the chance to apply for city manager, I did.”
The council selected him as city manager in March 1997.
Over the years, Waind has seen some definite swings in fortune for Minot.
He recalled the council cutting employees 10 percent shortly after he joined the staff. Tough times with the loss of railroad jobs, loss of a fighter wing at Minot Air Force Base, a sagging farm economy and oil bust combined to put the focus on economic development, which birthed the MAGIC Fund.
Contrast that with the 2013 budget proposal that included 62 new city positions, of which 32 were funded.
“When you think back on it, we had very few times when we added more than 10 people in a year,” Waind said. “To suddenly say 62, it was mind-boggling for the council. But I had gone to my department heads and said, ‘Tell us what you need and why you think you need it. If the council feels we can’t go that far, fine, but I want them to know what the need is.’
“Getting the 32 positions did go a long ways towards addressing that,” he added. “It helped, and we were able to handle some of those pressures we were feeling.”
Minot also went from begging airlines to come to trying to squeeze as many into the terminal as possible. Waind said it’s likely more airlines and routes will come once a new, larger terminal is completed.
City building permit values grew from a total of $303 million during his first nine years as city manager to nearly $305 million in 2012 alone. The annual average of about $257 million over the past three years compares to an annual average of $33 million in those earlier years, he said.
“We used to talk about growth in terms of small percentages. If we saw some growth, it was a good thing,” Waind said. Population growth of 6 percent from 1990 to 2000 and 12 percent from 2000 to 2010 seemed like good growth.
“But now, everything we are seeing indicates that we’ve grown as much in the last three years as we grew in 50 years, when you consider we turned 30,000 in 1960 and we turned 40,000 in 2010. That amount of growth we have seen in the last three or four years,” Waind said.
Watching the city grow generates a more positive emotion than the eerie feeling that he experienced in 2011 in looking out of his office window at National Guard equipment building a flood-control dike as high as the roof. Waind remembers the daily meetings all that spring to strategize how to get through a threatening snow melt.
“We kept thinking we are close. We are almost through this thing. We are going to make it,” he recalled.
Then a major June rainstorm hit the upper basin. Waind said the first reports of what was coming didn’t come from officials but from Canadian farmers. When the official news came, the report grew from 11,000 cubic feet per second, to 15,000 cfs, then 18,000 cfs. Within 24 hours, the forecast was for 30,000 cfs, although the actual flow came in around 26,000 cfs, still far more water than Minot had ever seen in the Souris River.
In 46 of the previous 82 years of records, less water flowed in the whole year than flowed on June 26, 2011, Waind said. As much water passed in June 2011 as passed in all of 1976, tripling the annual flow of that previous record year.
Now the city is working on an $800 million flood protection plan.
“From my standpoint, the city getting that piece in place was huge. It was important for people to know what our plan was and how we were going to proceed. Now, of course, it’s trying to figure out how to pay for it,” Waind said.
“The council did put in place the half-cent sales tax that is to pay for the local share of the entire project,” he added. “We are not going to be able to move very fast with the local share limited to that. I think the need is going to grow for additional funding for the local share to keep the project moving at a pace that people will want to see.”
The good things developing in Minot are going to take commitment to see to fruition, he said.
“We are on the road, but it’s a long road,” Waind said. “For somebody who is in city management or wants to be in city management, I can’t think of a city I would rather be in than Minot. It is a dynamic community. It is a growing community. There’s leadership here who have vision.”
A search committee continues the hunt for a successor to Waind.
“What a city manager is going to need are key people in all of the deparment level positions. I personally believe that I have benefitted by having excellent people in leadership as department heads,” Waind said. “You have to have a strong team.”
Waind also has worked with six mayors.
Current mayor, Curt Zimbelman, was on the council when Waind joined the city and when Waind was selected as city manager.
“Overall, David has done a really great job for the city,” Zimbelman said. “He is a very capable person, very genuine, understands people. … He wants to be fair with anyone he’s dealing with.”
Zimbelman said Waind’s long history with the city, his knowledge of the city and his ability to come up with solutions has made him an asset to the council.
Council president Jim Hatlelid agreed. He said Waind’s easy-going manner and calm nature have made him easy to work with in any situation.
Carroll Erickson, a former mayor, said Waind did a good job of balancing the interests of the council, department heads and others who came in contact with the city. As police chief before becoming mayor, Erickson said he didn’t always come out of Waind’s office with what he wanted, but he never felt ignored.
“He did what he thought was good for the city,” he said.