Three seek two seats on Ward County Commission

Former county commissioner Kari Lee Conrad, newcomer Larry Louser and incumbent John Fjeldahl filed to run for Ward County Commission Monday.

Commission chairman Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington, did not file. He said retirement is not far away, and he and his wife are interested in wintering in Arizona when that time comes.

“If I run for county commission and if I were fortunate enough to win, it’s not fair to the public that I wouldn’t be at the meetings,” he said. “To be fair to the citizens, it’s time to just step aside.”

Fjeldahl is completing his second term on the commission. He farms and owns a cabinetry business at Berthold. He said he wants to continue on the board to see the county building projects completed and would like to stay involved with road issues and flood recovery.

Louser is a Minot Realtor. A Garrison native, he has resided in Minot since getting out of the Navy in 1965. He was an economics teacher at Minot High School from 1969 to 1978.

“I am very interested in Minot and the growth of Minot,” he said. “I want to make sure that North Dakota keeps growing.”

He chaired an advisory committee a few years ago that traveled the county to hear from residents about their visions for the county.

Conrad is president of Plum Valley Developers, Inc., a group working to develop affordable housing. She holds a master’s degree in social work and has worked in private and public agencies as well as taught social work at Minot State University. She served on the Ward County Commission from 1992 to 2000 and was a Democratic state representative to the North Dakota House from District 3 from 2004 to 2010.

“Ward County residents face tremendous challenges,” Conrad said in announcing her candidacy Monday. The county continues to rebuild from the 2011 flood while at the same time is trying to accommodate a growing population, she said.

“I want to contribute my knowledge of county and state government and my experience with policies and programs to ease the burdens and take advantage of the opportunities associated with these challenges,” she said. “Before the boom, Ward County leaders did much with less, Now, it seems to me that our biggest job is to convince state legislators to invest the new oil revenues in our infrastructure and our citizens. With the kind of wealth we are accumulating in the state coffers, our families should have the safest streets and roads and have access to affordable housing and quality child care. Everyone should have an improved quality of life from this economic development.”

Other county candidates who have filed for re-election are Rozanna Larson, state’s attorney; Steve Kukowski, sheriff; and Alan Walter, Garrison Diversion Conservancy District.